Since the 19th century, philanthropic actions have always been present in the life of Chicago community, so they have had a critical role in the progress of the city. From helping homeless people or stray animals, to volunteering for some community center activities, Chicagoans are well known for being always involved around numerous charitable works. For this reason, there are many foundations working for different important aspects of the community of Chicago such as health, children, animals, and people with disabilities, environment, culture, education, etc. In the past two decades, the latter aspect mentioned here has been in the agenda of many organizations around the world, and Chicago is not the exception. The work of these foundations goes from encouraging in early childhood education to supporting actions to end illiteracy in adults. Among all these foundations, there are five that will have an especial space here due to its work for the Chicago community.
The Chicago Foundation for Education
Founded in 1985 by Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, The Chicago Foundation for Education has been working for over 30 years, focusing on the basics of education; classroom materials and practical training. One of the main purposes of the CFE has been to offer help to the teachers of Chicago public schools to improve on their competences and effectiveness in the classroom. In order to do that, the foundation has created fellowships, grant making programs, and workshops to help teachers in the curriculum innovation. The given money for allowances can go from 100 to 1000 dollars, and they donate it depending on the program. The applications for the grant programs are unsolicited, a people interested can see the deadlines on the website of the foundation. In 2014, The Chicago Foundation for Education provided money for 687 grants and worked with 1,022 teachers in 344 schools. The numbers of the Chicago Foundation for Education have been consistently in the past 5 years.
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation
This foundation was founded in 1955 after the death of famous Colonel Robert R. McCormick who was a veteran editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. McCormick was one of the first philanthropists in Chicago, helping in this way on the progress of his beloved city. In his will, the Colonel McCormick stated that all his fortune would be inherited by the Illinois community. The main commitment of The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is to support the communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. This work is done through philanthropic programs that focus on developing leaders for the communities. Besides, the foundation founded the Cantigny Park and several museums, helping to improve the lives of people in the community. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the largest foundations in the United States, giving over than $1 billion in benefits.
The Spencer Foundation
Lyle M. Spencer founded in 1962 the Spencer Foundation in a way of returning to education its prior help in the establishment of his family fortune. In 1968, after the death of Lyle M. Spencer, the Foundation obtained an extensive inheritance and started its formal grant making program in 1971. By Spencer’s will, this foundation principal purpose is to research into new ways to make education better. For this reason, the Spencer Foundation has created high quality research, training and fellowship programs all related to education. Since the first grants made with the given money upon Lyle M. Spencer’s death, the Spencer Foundation has made grants that go near $500 million.
Big Shoulders Fund
Big Shoulders Fund was founded in 1986, and since then it has supported Catholic schools of the more needed parts in inner Chicago. The donations of Big Shoulders Fund are destined to help the hardest working students in these needed Catholic schools. This has been made through the main programs of the Fund which provide them with scholarships, teacher development, operating grants, academic programs, instructional equipments, school facilities improvements, and faculty support. The Big Shoulders Fund has reported that 88 percent of the students graduated from the 82 schools it supports have registered for college.
Comer Family Foundation
The Comer Family Foundation is committed to improve education on the Greater Grand Crossing community on the Southside of Chicago. Recognizing that there are a lot of factors influencing learning in children, the work of the Foundation is a collaborative effort to support these fundamental components in the growth and well-being of every child in the community. Therefore, the Comer Family Foundation has created programs for academic support, college readiness, after-school enrichment, teen employment, housing and healthcare. In May 2006, they built one of the main pillars of the foundation, the Gary Comer Youth Center forms which mission is to make better the education and lives of children.