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2015 Class of Rising Stars – Jeremy Lillig

Jeremy Lillig feels honored to be one of The Independent’s Rising Stars of Philanthropy and finds it to be a great privilege to be able to contribute to our wonderful Town. Philanthropy is an ingrained part of his professional, civic and personal life. As managing director of the Bright Futures Fund, Jeremy helps to improve the lives of disadvantaged children by providing them with scholarships to attend Catholic grade schools. The average family Jeremy serves is a family of four with an annual income of less than $16,000. The education students receive allows them to excel, and most students test two and a half grade levels above their peers in public schools.

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Under Jeremy’s leadership, the Bright Futures Fund provides more than one million dollars in scholarships to needy students every year. He also doubled revenue raised during an annual Chiefs Watch Party event, raised the most funds ever for a single event with the 2014 School Bell Breakfast, led the first capital improvement project in 28 years in partnering schools, increased foundation funding by 300 percent, grew the board by 20 percent, and increased funding to schools for the first time in 12 years.

In addition to growing philanthropy professionally, Jeremy also dedicates a significant amount of time and personal resources to make a difference in the lives of people in need. He is a board member of the Folly Theatre and is a member of the Heritage Society, which is made up of individuals who have left Avila University in their estates. Jeremy is a regular supporter of Avila’s premier fundraising event, the Steer Dinner, as well as Avila’s fine arts program and scholarships for low-income students.

Jeremy is a painter and regularly donates his artwork to area charities to auction off at events. He also is a co-founder of Full Circle Theatre Company, a non-profit social justice theatre company. His play, Whispers from the Street, which is based on interviews Jeremy conducted with more than 200 homeless individuals in Kansas City, has been produced 36 times and raised more than two million dollars for organizations that serve the homeless.

More than an idealistic dreamer, Jeremy is committed to leaving this world better than he found it. “I have always been inspired by Dorothy Day, specifically her theory that ‘the greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us.’ The more we can use our gifts, whatever they may be, to help those in need and to give them dignity, the more fruitful and productive our society will be. Whether it is serving food to the hungry, creating art for an auction or helping students receive an education, I feel the most alive when I am part of a community.”

Also featured in the August 8, 2015 issue of The Independent

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