A Few Key Details about the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation

Although the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation doesn’t have a website and doesn’t exactly make grantseeking an easy task for nonprofits, there are a few things we’ve discovered about this local funder.

With almost a billion in foundation assets and individual donations being made on the side, Charles and Penny wield a lot of power in the Chicago area. Here are a few key details to keep in mind about the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation.

Urban Education and Youth Services are Top Priorities

This past August, the foundation made headlines for teaming up with Col. Jennifer Pritzker to pay for a youth development center in Evanston. Pritzker donated land valued at $2.5 million and an undisclosed cash prize, and Lewis-Sebring  tossed another $1 million on top of that. All this money is going to Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) to develop a new headquarters for youth development activities.

Even more recently, the foundation awarded a $150,000 grant to Foundation 65, a nonprofit that promotes literacy and arts projects that complement educational opportunities in Evanston-Skokie District 65. Back in 2010, Lewis-Sebring gave $5 million to the University of Chicago to support its efforts to improve urban schooling in Chicago and nationwide. Penny Bender Sebring is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Chicago and co-founded the Consortium on Chicago School Research as part of the Urban Education Institute.

Giving is Mostly Limited to Chicago and Evanston

As you might have guessed from this list of sample grants, the Lewis-Sebring Foundation places a strong geographical priority on the city of Chicago and the northern suburb of Evanston. The couple and their children and grandchildren call Evanston home. And Charles is a trustee for some of the biggest institutions in Chicago, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Grants Flow to Established and Connected Organizations

More often than not, Lewis-Sebring grants flow to local organizations with which the couple already has established relationships. Recent foundation grants have gone to the University of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. There are some definite overlaps among grantees and the couple's board memberships.

Unsolicited Requests Aren’t Accepted

Unfortunately, the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation doesn’t have a website and doesn’t publicize much about its giving strategy. This is another one of those private foundations that only contributes to pre-selected organizations and doesn’t have staff members on call to reach out to. General inquiries can be directed to 847-855-5300.  

Related - Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation: Chicago Grants