Grant to advance counseling named in honor of Toni Tollerud

Toni Tollerud
Toni Tollerud

Toni Tollerud’s service to education, from teaching to counseling, spans nearly 50 years.

Yet her legacy will last far longer through the new Toni R. Tollerud School Counselor Grant, created and funded by the Schultz Foundation for Advancing Counseling.

Recipients will use grants of up to $1,000 to finance school counseling projects in Illinois that benefit underserved student populations, boost awareness of counseling, raise knowledge of obtaining support for school counseling, implement technology, improve counselor education and encourage counselors and students to become involved in the profession.

After the projects are completed, recipients must submit the results for publication in appropriate professional journals or as proposals for presentations at professional conferences on counseling.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” says Tollerud, who retired from NIU in 2016 as interim associate dean of the College of Education and helped to write the grant criteria. “It’s overwhelming for me to think that my name will live on and provide something to professionals in the field.”

Melanie Rawlins, founder and board president of the Schultz Foundation, calls Tollerud a “leader” and “change agent” clearly deserving of the honor.

“I have known Toni since she’s been in Illinois, and I don’t know of any other professional counselor – or professional – that I respect more than Toni Tollerud,” Rawlins says.

“No other counselor-educator in Illinois has impacted counselor-ed training, professional development for counselors in the field, counseling in the public schools and working with mental health affiliates across the state than Dr. Tollerud,” she adds. “Her work continues to regenerate itself well after her initial efforts.”

schultz-logoAmy Rasing, executive director of the Schultz Foundation, calls the new grant “an exciting addition to the resources – grants, programs, networking – that the foundation offers to counseling graduate students and mental health professionals throughout the state.”

“Since 2007, over $230,000 has been awarded in in grant funds,” Rasing says. “It is our hope that this grant will help to promote the opportunities offered and engage more people in becoming involved in contributing to the funds we have to offer, literally helping put our tagline to action: Empowering Professionals, Enriching Lives.”

Empowering professionals and enriching lives are lifelong passions for Tollerud, a Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education who remains an icon in the world of school counseling.

The former president of the Illinois Counseling Association helped to write the state standards in 2003, work that redefined the role of a school counselor in the Prairie State. The new language held that school counselors need not have teaching experience.

She also was instrumental in writing the first Developmental Counseling Model for Illinois Schools, which contains the guidelines for program development and recommended practices and procedures for professional school counselors.

For more information about applying for, or making a donation in honor of Tollerud to support the grants awarded by the foundation, visit

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