What’s the CME Group Foundation and Why Does It Care about Math Education in Chicago?

Math education is a huge concern for funders around the country, and a growing interest among corporate funders in particular. A Chicago-based corporate funder, the CME Group Foundation recently announced the second phase of its Early Math Education Initiative, which has been part of its overall funding program for almost six years now.

Along with this new announcement came $3.6 million in new grants whose purpose is to help children from low-income communities get better at math. More specifically, it’s aiming to boost the math skills of young children from infancy through fifth grade studying at public schools, charter schools, parochial schools, childcare centers and with home-based providers.

Something interesting about this funder is that it sticks to supporting math education in the state of Illinois, but largely in the city of Chicago and the suburbs. Recent grantees include the Ounce of Prevention Fund, University of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Children’s Museum.

“In launching the Early Math Education Initiative, CME Group Foundation developed a theory of change with the goal of helping Illinois children become proficient at their grade level and prepared for success in mathematics later in their education,” said Jim Oliff, chairman of CME Group Foundation.

To learn more about this funder’s math education program and the CME Group Foundation in general, I connected with Michael Shore, CME Group’s executive director of corporate communications.

To start, Shore told me that this is why early math is so important to the CME Group Foundation:

We believe that a solid foundation in mathematics is crucial for success, particularly in the financial industry. Through our investments in early education, we strive to increase economic opportunity, especially for young people from disadvantaged communities. This $3.6 million in new grants will promote family engagement, improve teacher preparation, and influence policies for early childhood math education.

When I asked him what the biggest issue facing Chicago and Illinois is right now, he responded:

Illinois and Chicago, like the rest of the nation, face the challenge of ensuring that the next generations are equipped to meet the demands of a changing economy. At a time when education is more important than ever, investing and supporting students throughout their academic career will help position the young people in our community for success.

The latest CME grants will be distributed over a three-year period and go towards scaling up programs for professional development and family engagement in early math education and towards piloting investments in pre-service teacher preparation and influencers of early math policy.

Overall, the CME Group Foundation supports education from the earliest to the most advanced levels, primarily in Chicago. It does this through grantmaking to schools and education groups for at-risk pre-K children, K-12 education, and college/career readiness.

But as a company, CME Group provides a marketplace for individuals, companies and institutions that need to manage risk or that want to profit by accepting risk. So accordingly, the foundation also supports efforts that prepare university students for careers in financial services and risk management, as well as supporting academic research in this field.

Fortunately for local grantseekers in the Chicago area, the CME Group Foundation is currently looking for new grantees and accepting new applications. This opportunity extends to groups working in the following fields:

  • Higher education
  • K-12 education
  • Early childhood education
  • Academic research on exchange-traded derivatives and central clearing house policy issues.

Finally, Shore shared the following information about how CME selects new grantees:

CME Group Foundation chooses grantees that share our values of leading with conviction and integrity, advancing the economy, building lasting relationships and acting with ingenuity. Our grant partners are universities, school districts, charter networks and nonprofit organizations with a track record of excellence and a commitment to innovation.

To learn more about how this funder works, check out our full profile of the CME Group Foundation’s Chicago giving.