A Vision for the Future

“The first time I saw generosity in action, I didn’t know that I’d seen it,” says John O’Connor, Dubuque resident, business owner and co-founder of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

“It was in 1959, when the Wahlert Foundation made a gift to establish Wahlert High School. They created this foundation to put money aside today to take care of the needs of the future. That’s stuck with me, and it’s one of the things that motivated me to get involved in the formation of a community foundation for Dubuque.”

Today, O’Connor’s passion for community and memories of that example of generosity drive him to give back, helping Greater Dubuque grow stronger for future generations.  

“People here take care of each other. Everyone works together without a sense of authorship to accomplish things,” he explains. “It’s great to be in a community where there’s a vision for the future, and there’s a work ethic to get it done.” 

O’Connor remembers his father, who was involved with Dubuque’s colleges, impressing upon him the importance of endowments for education. So when O’Connor joined the effort to start a community foundation in the early 2000s, he applied that same theory to an entire region.

He describes an endowment like a community’s savings account. As the principal grows, the earnings increase and can be used to meet future needs.

That’s why he chose to make his own gift to the Greater Dubuque Forever Fund, an endowment to address a range of community challenges and opportunities as they emerge. “The needs of our charitable organizations in Dubuque accelerate every year – so those of us who want to give to benefit a specific area can do so. But we should also think about leaving money to the Forever Fund for needs that are yet to come.” 

As a former board member, O’Connor is confident current and future Community Foundation leaders will steward the Forever Fund expertly so it has a lasting impact on the people of the community he loves.

“We have a very strong board. We have a committee that decides who receives grants each year. We have a group of strong investment representatives who look after our investments. When I pass away, there’s no better place for the money I want to leave for this community than in their hands — so it does last forever.” 

To support the Greater Dubuque Forever Fund, contact Faye Finnegan at faye@dbqfoundation.org 563.588.2700.

Press Contact

Jeff Danna
Communications Manager

About Us
The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque envisions a vibrant and inclusive Dubuque region where everyone can thrive. Since 2002, we have inspired people to give back to their community, and we turn this generosity into lasting change across our region, increasing access to resources and opportunities that help all people succeed. 

Connect with us to learn about the many ways we are building a strong, thriving Greater Dubuque for all.


Help your neighbors in need during COVID-19

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has activated the Greater Dubuque Disaster Recovery Fund in partnership with the United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States to provide a coordinated response to COVID-19. More than $550,000 has been raised so far to address pressing needs. Please consider a gift of any amount.