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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

An Aurora-Based Nonprofit Needs Help


An Aurora-based nonprofit with a mission to cultivate community through the arts had to leave the space that housed its bookstore and community center two years ago. The group is now looking to purchase a new building but needs help to do so.

Nicole Mullins is the founder and board president of L.I.F.T. (Live. Improve. Flourish. Thrive.) Aurora, better known locally as Culture Stock. Mullins said the nonprofit is looking for monthly donors and sponsorships. Proceeds would help secure financing for the purchase of a building on Aurora’s Near East Side that currently houses St. John’s United Church of Christ. But Culture Stock is having a hard time securing financing.

“Our struggle right now is that, because we've been closed for two years, we do not have a verifiable income,” Mullins said. "And so, to get a mortgage for the space is like impossible or a traditional mortgage.”

She shared that the monthly donations would help because they count as a stream of income.

Mullins said the building is right down the street from Waldo Middle School and she suggested that location is important.

“The numbers for the families that are at or below the poverty line is over 75%," Mullins explained. "If you look at their academic numbers for the 2018-19 school year, they are struggling academically. So, there is a real need in our community, for this type of space.”

Mullins said many organizations used the bookstore to hold events.

“It wasn't just a space that we utilized to run a bookstore. You know, there were countless organizations, grassroots groups that used our bookstore,” she shared. “Aurora University used it on a quarterly basis for their literary magazine launch.”

Mullins said there was a mold issue with the former building. This was confirmed by a company called Pur360.

She said the City owned the former property and ultimately decided to close the building.

Mullins said, by owning the building, the organization will be eligible for grants that will help them maintain the space. She said they were not eligible for this in the City-owned property.

Donations can be made at culturestock.org.

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org


Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.