Behind the Crown Family’s $10 Million Global Gift

“Crown” is a name of philanthropy royalty in Chicago, and the Crown Family Philanthropies has always had a soft spot for its home city.

Related: IP’s profile, Crown Family Philanthropies: Chicago Grants

However, there are a few different Crowns around town, and some of them have more of a local focus than others. Crown Family Philanthropies used to be known as the Arie and Ida Crown Memorial until 2009, when it took on a new name and revamped its grantmaking focus.

Lester Crown is the grandson of Arie and Ida and the outgoing Council Chairman of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. But most recently, Lester’s family made headlines by committing a $10 million gift to develop a global fellowship program in his name.

The whole point of this program is to help young, emerging leaders get global policy experience right here in Chicago. These leaders must be no older than 35 and will likely need to have impressive background experience in academics or policy analysis. As part of the program, these fellows will spend a year at the council conducting research, running working groups, and developing staff task forces. We’re still waiting to see more details about the application and evaluation process.

Throughout his career, Lester Crown has focused on international affairs, serving as an honorary trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the director of the Jerusalem Foundation, and the director of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Earlier this summer, he was honored with the 2015 Global Leadership Award for his “contributions to the city, the nation, and the world and for more than 10 years as the visionary chairman of The Chicago Council.”

So it really comes as no surprise that the bulk of his grantmaking stretches far beyond the city borders of Chicago. However, Lester has always been a true Chicagoan at heart, and this legacy will keep Chicago relevant as a training ground for global policy leaders.

“The fellowship will reflect Dad's vision, shaping a new generation of leaders who care deeply about global issues and about Chicago's place in the world,” said Patricia Crown in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chicago nonprofits should stick to Crown Family Philanthropies, which gives locally in the areas of the arts, civic affairs, education, environment, health, human services and Jewish causes. This Crown foundation publishes its upcoming letters of inquiry deadlines on the front page of its website, and the arts, civic affairs, and education program areas have an especially local focus. Get in touch with general questions by contacting the staff at 312-750-6671 or sending an inquiry through its online contact form.