Baskes Family Foundation: Grants for Chicago

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 and 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: The Baskes Family Foundation is the foundation of Roger Baskes and based in Chicago. A Harvard Law graduate, Roger Baskes practiced law in Chicago for 20 years., Baskes is also an avid collector of atlases and other books with maps. He's the 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. Grantmaking areas of interest are arts and culture, education, health and human services, and Jewish causes.

In Chicago, the family's largest sums have gone to arts and culture organizations over the years. The foundation often supports opera and theater organizations. Grantees 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.

Many grants range from $1,000 to $25,000. In a recent tax year, the foundation gave away around $2.3 million. Grantseekers can learn more about this funder’s giving by examining its tax records. The family is based in the eastern half of the United States, and Chicagoland, in particular, serves as an important site of philanthropy.

The foundation does not have a website, and it does not appear to accept unsolicited grant requests from nonprofits. The foundation phone number is 312-642-3737, and its address is 980 N. Michigan Ave., No. 1380, Chicago, IL 60611. 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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