What’s the Oppenheimer Family Foundation Doing for Chicago Teachers?

Unless you’re working for the Chicago Public School (CPS) system, you might not yet be familiar with the Oppenheimer Family Foundation. 

Established back in 1933, the Oppenheimer Family Foundation (OFF) has been focused on its Teacher Incentive Grant program for the past 26 years. The exclusive purpose of these grants is to reward outstanding Chicago Public School teachers. But over the years, the foundation has also supported the work of Chicago nonprofit groups in the areas of education, the environment, and crime prevention.

At the end of 2013, OFF reported over $4.5 million in assets and $437,625 in total giving. Almost all giving is centered on the city of Chicago, but OFF occasionally supports organizations in the suburbs and elsewhere in Illinois.

CPS teachers, administrators, counselors, social workers, and other certified personnel from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible to apply for OFF grants. Even charter school personnel can applyas long as the schools serve CPS students. You can request a grant up to $2,000 per project, and grants are given to enhance the school curriculum with project-based learning. This means you should send your requests for computers, LCD projectors, teacher stipends, food/beverages, school fundraisers, equipment, uniforms, and materials elsewhere.

“Hands-on learning often falls by the wayside as instructors struggle to balance teaching with test preparation and funding restrictions,” explained Ted Oppenheimer, president of the Oppenheimer Family Foundation. “These grants ensure that teachers have the resources to develop powerful, exciting, project-based lessons.”

OFF accepts grant applications via online submission, mail, and hand delivery. Grant applications are judged by a group of current and retired CPS teachers and the Oppenheimer family on staff. Application deadlines have historically fallen on the first of October and projects must be completed by the end of June the following year. There were around 86 elementary school winners and about 48 high school winners for 2015.

To learn more about OFF grantmaking, check out the FAQ page and the Application Guidelines page. General questions should be directed to the foundation staff by email at grantinfo@offtig.org.