Will Exelon’s Funding Move Away from Chicago with This Leadership Change?

Exelon’s STEM giving has caught our attention in the past, and since the company is headquartered in Chicago, much of its corporate giving has remained local. In fact, Exelon has been one of Chicago's most generous corporate givers over the years. However, there’s a big change happening with this corporate funder that local groups should definitely be aware of.

Related: We'll Say It Again: Energy Companies Are Loaded. Just Look at Exelon's STEM Giving

Exelon recently hired a new senior executive to be in charge of philanthropy and customer engagement, and she won’t be based in Chicago. We bring this up because it is a significant shift from how the company has approached the position in the past. The new exec’s name is Maggie FitzPatrick, and she’ll be working from D.C. as she takes over on August 29.

FitzPatrick is taking over for James Firth, who was based in Chicago but is retiring after 11 years with the company. She previously worked for Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Numerous other Exelon senior executives are based in D.C. these days, too. When Exelon bought out Pepco, it agreed to move its chief financial officer and chief strategy positions to the nation’s capital too.

Lots of local nonprofits in Chicago have come to depend upon the support of Exelon and its subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, over the years. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Exelon and its subsidiaries kicked back $14.1 million to nonprofits in the Illinois last year. An Exelon spokeswoman said that Exelon committed 38 percent of its total giving last year (a total of $36.7 million) to Illinois groups, and most of these were in the Chicago area.

Yet the rumors are true: Exelon’s D.C. office is definitely growing and gaining power. It’s clear that Exelon’s influence is "eastward bound" after acquiring Pepco Holdings and taking over utilities in East Coast locations like D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Of note, Exelon has indicated that it’ll ramp up grantmaking a bit this year, but it's also adding new regions of focus into the mix.

Admittedly, this is all a bit unsettling for Chicago groups, but Exelon says that it isn’t abandoning local groups with all this shifting. Exelon’sspokeswoman wrote in an email:

"Exelon remains fully committed to Chicago and our local community, and our philanthropy approach in Illinois will not change. We have a rigorous and disciplined approach to corporate giving, overseen by our Corporate Citizenship Review Committee and the Exelon Foundation Board, which include leaders from across the Exelon family of companies. Maggie FitzPatrick's joining Exelon will serve to strengthen and enhance our impact in the communities we serve."

So with that slight peace of mind, let’s do a quick recap of what Exelon likes to fund and where its grantmaking is focused these days.

The four areas of giving at Exelon are education, the environment, arts and culture, and neighborhood development. It’s also really into diversity and inclusion in each of these areas.

STEM education is still a big part of this funder’s strategy too, so keep Exelon in mind for all your local STEM projects. xelon gave 22 percent of its contributions to education programs last year. However, it also supports stay-in-school efforts and mentoring.

But overall, Exelon considers giving grants to nonprofits in all the communities where its employees and customers live and work. Although Chicago and Illinois have often seen favoritism, it’s important to note that Exelon does business in 48 states, D.C., and even Canada. A list of locations can be found here, and instructions on how to apply can be found on the funder’s community grants page.