Big Corporations doing important things for Chicago

It may shock some people, but some of the most powerful individuals contributing to Chicago welfare come from the corporate world. It does not matter why they do it –if it is a matter of altruism, self-interest or both-, these big corporations are responsible every year for donating millions to philanthropy in Chicago.

In this article, Yosef Meystel will describe a few corporations that are actually recognized for being big charity funders. Companies such as Northern Trust, W.W Grainger Inc, and Exelon are just a few that should be known worldwide for their amazing job in the not-for-profit arena.

Northern Trust

This financial giant located in Chicago, Illinois, is an American international company dedicated to providing investment administration, fund and assets management, fiduciary and banking services in more than 85 branch offices in 18 U.S states and 20 international branch offices in the rest of North America, Asia, and Europe.

The company believes that strategic philanthropy enhances individuals and families to make a long-lasting impact on the community and future generations. They help individuals put their wealth to work in support of a charity or cause, supporting three main funding areas: disadvantaged women, their children and people with mental and physical disabilities. Their entire philosophy argues that disadvantaged women and their children are a vulnerable population growing exceedingly fast in the world. Therefore, economic advantages should be given to them, so they can become stronger and build more sustainable communities. In the same way, people with disabilities need to help improve their well-being and quality of life.

Northern Trust is one of the few companies in the U.S that has kept up its donations despite the multiple recessions and financial crisis that have taken place in the country. They have always stated that in rough times, is when people are in need the most, for this reason, the company shouldn’t turn its back on them. Instead, Northern Trust and its philanthropic experts collaborate with every family to identify, refine and evaluate which charitable solutions that best suits their needs.

Northern Trust building_Philanthropic corporations_Yosef Meystel_Philanthropy in Chicago

Image courtesy of Julie Kertesz at

Exelon Corp

This corporation is an energy giant that works in every single stage of the energy business, including competitive energy sales, power generation, transmission, and delivery. The company does business in over 48 states and Canada, employing more than 34,000 people only in the U.S.

Exelon funds a corporate giving program that aims to help communities grow and thrive in Chicago and other cities in the U.S, as one of their main goals is to have a positive impact in the areas they serve.

Some of the areas Exelon Corp funds offer measurable, sustainable improvements in the communities. These areas are listed below:

  •    Education: These programs promote scholarships and internships, encouraging students to stay in school and develop their potential.
  •    Environment: Programs here aim to improve the quality of our environment, working for environmental education, conservation, and preservation of species.
  •    Arts & Culture: In this area, programs are dedicated to making arts and culture more accessible to a wider and more diverse audience.
  •    Development: Programs here support different options from health and human services to after-school programming.

The 606: In June 2015, Exelon Corp opened the 606, a ground-breaking green space in Chicago’s park-poor neighborhoods. The 606 transformed an unused rail line that once divided neighborhoods into an elevated path of green areas on Chicago’s northwest side.

According to Exelon website “Long-term plans for The 606 include six ground-level parks, a wheel-friendly event plaza, an observatory, art installations, educational programming and other amenities”. It is known that new education programs will guide Chicago’s youth and teachers as they explore and learn from The 606 initiative.

Exelon_Team_Philanthropy in Chicago_Yosef Meystel_Philanthropic corporations

Image courtesy of City Year at

W.W. Grainger, Inc.

This Company presents itself as industrial supply company operating since 1927 in Chicago, Illinois. The Company works as a business-to-business distributor of items needed to maintain, repair and operate facilities. At least 3 million organizations and institutions in the world depend on Grainger for products like safety gloves, motors, ladders and janitorial supplies. Grainger also provides services such as inventory management and technical support.

The Grainger Foundation thrives for disaster prevention and response, support for programs related to skilled trades, an employee matching gifts program, and a combined volunteer/financial local giving program in the cities where the company has a corporate presence. The Foundation also gives community college scholarship support for training in technical skills and public safety.

The company has also made some major contributions to different universities during the past years. One of the most remarkable of these contributions was made to the University of Illinois through the Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger Engineering Breakthroughs Initiative (GEBI), boosting a massive expansion of its Engineering department with tens of millions of dollars in Grainger Foundation funding and an initial focus on “bioengineering and big data”.


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