Christopher Family Foundation: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Christopher Family Foundation supports initiatives that strengthen Christian faith, educate and encourage health and family wellbeing, and that inspire creativity. Much of the family's philanthropy takes place in the Chicago area. 

FUNDING AREAS: Religious, health and human services, arts and culture, education, youth

IP TAKE: The foundation does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals and keeps a low profile. 

PROFILE: Established in 1997 the by Jay and Doris Christopher, the Christopher Family Foundation is an outgrowth of The Pampered Chef, a business Doris founded in 1980 out of their home. While the foundation does not have much of a web presence,  an Idealist page for the foundation describes its mission as supporting "initiatives that strengthen Christian faith, that educate, that encourage health and family wellbeing, and that inspire creativity. “Grantmaking areas of interest are religion, health and human services, arts and culture, education, and youth.

Supporting Christian organizations, particularly those related to the Lutheran faith, is a critical part of this funder's grantmaking. Jay Christopher serves as the chairman of the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation, which supports inner city Lutheran schools in the area. Apart from steadily supporting that outfit, the Christophers have funded organizations like Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Wheat Ridge Ministries, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of River Forest, Timothy Christian Schools, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Walther Lutheran High School Association, and Lutheran School of Theology. 

The Christophers are longtime supporters of Concordia University Chicago. In 1999, the Christopher family helped establish the Walter and Maxine Christopher Center for Learning and Leadership. University of Illinois, meanwhile, is home to the Christopher Family Foundation Food and Family Program, whose mission is to "build positive connections between food and family life in order to promote healthy eating, preserve family traditions, and build stronger relationships with an emphasis on children and youth." The family has also helped fund a Chicago diabetes project via the University of Illinois Foundation. 

The family also supports health and human services outfits in Chicago like Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Robert Crown Center for Health Education, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. The Christophers also support youth organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, and Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Chicago.

In arts and culture, an important grantee has been Chicago Zoological Society, home to the Christopher Family Foundation Plaza at Wild Encounters Exhibit. Other grantees have included the Museum of Science and Industry and DuPage Children's Museum. 

Foundation grants tend to range from $1,000 to $100,000. In a recent year, the foundation made around $3.6 million in grants. Grantseekers can learn more about how this funder gives by examining its recent tax forms. Much of the Christopher family's philanthropy centers around the Chicago area and the Midwest. The foundation does not provide grantseeking guidelines.

Also, the foundation does not have a strong web presence and does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals. The foundation is based in suburban Hinsdale, Illinois, and its phone number is 800-839-1754.


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