A Wealthy Chicago Couple Focuses On Education Reform and Policy

In recent years, the Satter Foundation has held upwards of $70 million in assets and has given away some $6 million annually. A recent 990 filing listed close to 90 grantees. The active foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of former Goldman partner Muneer Satter and his wife Kristine Hertel. Satter spent years commuting from Chicago to New York racking up frequent flier miles, kind of like George Clooney's character in Up in the Air. Satter reportedly donated millions of these miles to Room to Read, a nonprofit that delivers books to children in developing countries. 

The Satters reside in Winnetka, Illinois, outside Chicago. Satter is only in his mid-50s, but has racked up a number of charitable interest areas, including education reform and charters, policy, global development, health and even the environment. Satter is a national council co-chair of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He's also a top backer of a number of Republican candidates, but also Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat. Of the many Goldman Sachs pre-1999 IPO partners I've written about, Satter's philanthropy is among the more robust.

The Satters are active figures in the Chicago education reform space. They are primary supporters of New Schools for Chicago, which opens and supports charter and district-run schools. Between 2011 and 2016, the Satter Foundation gave between $1 million and $2 million to New Schools for Chicago alone. The couple, via their Satter Foundation, have also recently funded Academy for Urban School Leadership (which received a recent $200,000 grant), KIPP Ascend Charter School, Noble Network of Charter Schools, Perspectives Charter Schools, Teach for America, and Winnetka Public Schools Foundation.

Another important grantee here is Accelerate Institute, which is committed to closing the achievement by creating "high-impact, transformational school leaders that accelerate student achievement." The outfit also runs a charter school. 

Kristine Satter plays an important role in the couple's philanthropy and serves as an active member of the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy’s advisory board. In fact, her bachelor's degree from Northwestern is in education and social policy. A recent Satter Foundation grant went to Northwestern School of Education, and last year, the couple gave a large $10.5 million gift to Northwestern (Muneer is also an alum) mainly to support scholarships at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

The Satters are also strongly interested in policy, and recently gave conservative think tank AEI a $100,000 grant via their foundation. Other recent policy grantees include the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Foundation for Defense of Democracy, the Heritage Foundation, the Illinois Policy Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), which received a $515,000 grant recently. The couple pumps serious money into policy work, and while some of these outfits are decidedly right-leaning, like AEI and Heritage Foundation, others are not.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the Satter Foundation doesn't have a website or a clear way to get in touch. Kristine is available on LinkedIn. For a complete snapshot of all that the Satter couple is interested in, click on the links below. 

Related: Muneer Satter

Related: Satter Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

Related: Satter Foundation: Grants for Global Development

Related: Satter Foundation: Chicago Grants