Last time we wrote about 77-year-old Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation that he runs with his kids, Bluhm had recently given his alma mater Northwestern University $25 million. Bluhm got his law degree at Northwestern and made partner at a law firm before pivoting into real estate.
But that headlining gift is not all Bluhm is up to in Chicago, and of late it appears that the family has been ramping up its giving, making $7 million in grants in 2013. The numbers were likely higher last year. Bluhm has a net worth of $2 billion.
Where's the money been going? Here's a quick rundown on this Chicago funder:
1. Bluhm's Education Philanthropy Extends Beyond Northwestern
Recently, education outfits in Chicago receiving funding from Bluhm include Year Up-Chicago, and the Erickson Institute, a graduate school in child development. Bluhm also seems keen on arts education, giving to Marwen Arts Campus, Intonation Music Workshop, and Urban Getaways, which describes itself as giving "high-quality, accessible arts experiences to young people." Most grants have been under $100,000 annually.
2. Bluhm's Arts Philanthropy Is Guided By His Passion for Arts
Bluhm is yet another billionaire deep into art collecting with a reported $100 million worth of art. He's a life trustee at the Art Institute of Chicago and is president of the board of trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Back in the early 2000s, the Art Institute of Chicago received at least $20 million. These days, the huge giving toward that outfit appears to have tapered off, but the museum received around $1 million in 2012. A similar trail of Chicago arts and culture outfits such as Chicago Children's Museum, and the Harris Museum of Music and Dance, have appeared on recent tax records.
3. Other Causes Are Important, Too
Bluhm, who was born into a Jewish family, has supported Jewish causes such as the United Jewish Fund, which received $1.3 million in 2013. A component of Bluhm's philanthropy involves social justice issues. He's given to the John Howard Association of Illinois, an outfit that works to "achieve a fair, humane and cost-effective criminal justice system," and to the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU.
4. Giving Is a Family Project
Bluhm's three children serve as trustees of the foundation with their father. One of Bluhm's daughters, Leslie, cofounded Chicago Cares, a local volunteer program which addresses issues such as education and health, in 1991. In addition, Leslie and her husband started the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship, which supports young social entrepreneurs under 35. Recent awardees of the fellowship have been based in Chicago.