Baskes Family Foundation: Chicago Guide

OVERVIEW: The Baskes Family Foundation is a philanthropic vehicle of veteran lawyer Robert Baskes, his wife, Julie, and their family. Baskes' Chicago grantmaking strongly focuses on arts and culture, particularly supporting theater and opera. 

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and Culture, Education, Health & Human Services, Jewish Causes

IP TAKE: The foundation keeps a low profile, and does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals. Networking is key for getting on this family's radar.

PROFILE: A Harvard Law graduate, Roger Baskes  practiced law in Chicago for 20 years. Away from that world, Baskes is an avid collector of atlases and other books with maps. He's immediate past chair of the board of trustees of The Newberry Library in Chicago, home to the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections. 

Baskes, his wife, and family move their philanthropy through the Baskes Family Foundation. The family is based in the eastern half of the United States, and Chicagoland in particular serves as an important site of philanthropy. In Chicago, the family's largest sums of late have gone to arts and culture organizations. Opera and theater organizations are especially well featured. Big winners include Goodman Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Chicago Opera Theatre. Other grantees have included Newberry Library, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Chicago History Museum. 

Baskes also supports his alma mater, University of Chicago, home to the Julie and Roger Baskes Group Study. The couple has donated rare and historical books with maps that they have collected. Other education grantees in the Chicago area include  Merit School of Music, Chicago High School for Arts, Payton Prep Initiative for Education,  and Young Women’s Leadership Charter School. 

The Baskes have given large sums to Northwestern University's Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. The family has supported other health and human services outfits in Chicagoland like Chicago Women's Health Center, Metropolitan Family Services, The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and Lakeview Food Pantry. 

The family also funds Jewish organizations in Chicago like Jewish United Fund, and Chicago Sinai Congregation. The Baskes have supported Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, too, and it's worth noting that Julie Baskes is a member of the Zell family and daughter of Rochelle Zell, who was active in Holocaust remembrence and Jewish education. 

As stated, the family's largest sums go to arts and culture, with a recent high grant in this area being $260,000. Many other grants range from $1,000 to $25,000. In a recent tax year, the foundation gave away around $2.3 million. Roger and Julie Baskes also move philanthropy through a more modestly sized charity, the Julie and Roger Baskes Charitable Trust, supporting a similar collection of outfits. 


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The Baskes Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the family, but below is an address:

Baskes Family Foundation
980 N. Michigan Ave., No. 1380
Chicago, IL 60611