Getting to Know the Guthman Fund’s Giving Strategy

The Leo S. Guthman Fund is a private family funder that Chicago groups should get familiar with because of its local focus. In a recent year, the foundation reported over $2.6 million in assets and committed over $2.2 million for grants.

This funder has primarily given for the arts, education, children, youth and social services, women's organizations, and Jewish organizations in Chicago. However, we dug a little deeper to learn more about the types of causes LSGF funds and how new grantseekers can get in touch for funding.

Existing Grantees Only for Art & Leadership

Earlier this year, Guthman announced some disheartening news for new grantseekers. It is no longer accepting proposals from new organizations for its art and youth leadership programs. Only existing grantees looking for additional funding are now considered in these categories. And these types of funding have traditionally comprised the bulk of Guthman grantmaking.  

Urban Gardening & Farming

But as one door closed for new grantees, another one opened this year. Urban farming and gardening is a new venture for this funder, so the specificity and eligibility requirements could change in the months and years ahead. There's a big movement for city farms, community gardens, and organics in Chicago neighborhoods right now, so it's interesting to see Guthman jump on this trend.

At least for now, this is what Guthman is looking for in new grantees:

  • Addressing the lack of fresh produce in Chicago neighborhoods by growing, donating or selling healthy food in areas considered to be "food deserts."
  • Providing community-building opportunities for residents of all ages.
  • Educating neighbors about growing their own food in urban areas, especially organics.
  • Creating and maintaining community gardens or urban farms.
  • Demonstrating unique models of partnerships of urban agriculture or food distribution.

And these are some of the groups the fund has recently supported

  • Advocates for Urban Agriculture to increase its organizational capacity
  • Chicago Botanic Garden for its Green Youth Farm program
  • Chicago Lights for its urban farm
  • Experimental Station for educational and outreach activities for its 61st Street Farmers Market
  • Advocates for Urban Agriculture to increase its organizational capacity
  • Chicago Botanic Garden for its Green Youth Farm program 

LSGF Support Outside Chicago

While most Guthman grantmaking is focused on Chicago, the trustees occasionally make discretionary grants in other U.S. locations. Although LSGF isn’t known around town as a big tech funder, it does keep an eye out for promising solutions when it comes to youth. A high school robotics team at Petoskey High School in Michigan received Guthman's support to integrate 3D printing into local libraries. The foundation also recently supported a theater production in San Diego.

Invitation Only, but Inquiries Welcome

LSGF considers grant proposals on an invitation-only basis, but it’s not inaccessible or unapproachable. If you can address a urban farming/gardening need in Chicago or have an idea about early childhood education or a summer youth employment program, simply reach out to the two-member staff to discuss your idea.

The foundation phone number is 312-641-6330, and Iris Krieg, the executive director, can be reached via email at She leads a professional philanthropic advisory service and is also a co-founder of the Chicago Foundation for Women.