Our Partnerships

NIU’s partnerships with the surrounding communities are too many and too varied to count – and new partnerships are always beginning as we find new opportunities to pursue and new challenges to address together. Here are a few examples of the partnerships we nurture to benefit NIU and the northern Illinois region.

DeKalb County UNITES

In response to the coronavirus and the challenges that have come with the pandemic, a group of NIU and DeKalb County leaders banded together to form DeKalb County University and Neighbors Investing Together for Economic Success (DeKalb County UNITES), a task force focused on helping small businesses remain viable during this period of restrictions and economic uncertainty.


Since June of 2020, residents of the City of DeKalb, DeKalb County and NIU have come together for community discussions on race and inclusion and established a Belonging Council. Our work is supported by a Healing Illinois Grant facilitated by the City of DeKalb, Northern Illinois University, Family Service Agency, the DeKalb County Community Foundation, the Ellwood House Museum and the DeKalb County Regional History Center.


Small businesses and nonprofits are the heart of our community, and they were struggling during the COVID crisis. 40TUDE Business and 40TUDE Nonprofit bring together the expertise of NIU faculty and students, local business owners, and experienced marketing and nonprofit professionals to provide affordable professional marketing and consulting services to local organizations. 

Economic Development

NIU participates in various economic development efforts to connect to the businesses that have recently been attracted to DeKalb County, to support local and minority-owned businesses, to maximize the economic development impact of these wins and to revitalize neighborhoods around the university. NIU’s economic development partnerships include:

Leadership and Nonprofit Development

NIU experts provide support to countless boards and organizations to enhance knowledge about strategic planning, social justice, financial planning and leadership skills.

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