Crown Family Philanthropies: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Crown Family Philanthropies favor Jewish causes but also fund a wide range of education, arts, environmental, and human services organizations throughout the Chicago area.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and culture, civic affairs, education, environment, global health, health, human services, Jewish charitable causes

IP TAKE: Although Crown spreads its grants among community and arts causes each year, a vast majority of the grants are awarded to Jewish organizations. Individuals not running a Jewish organization should make sure proposals serve underprivileged youth in some way.

PROFILE: The Crown Family Philanthropies was known as the Arie and Ida Crown Memorial until 2009, but the foundation's objectives have remained constant. With humble beginnings, founders Arie and Ida Crown emigrated from Eastern Europe to Chicago in hopes of a better life for their children. Their company, Material Service Corporation, ended up being one of the most successful corporations in America, and the Crown family has been giving to local causes ever since. Crown's current program areas include arts, civic affairs, environment, education, health, human services, and Jewish causes.

The Crowns have granted funds to homeless causes like Inspiration Corporation, music programs like the Merit School of Music, and educational resources like Urban Prep Academies. There are three educational categories that aim to boost promising schools, leadership programs, and holistic education support. Although the environment program budget usually isn't as large as the others, a Chicago-based program will need to focus on Great Lakes preservation, climate change, or energy conservation. The Chicago health program addresses both access to care and prevention, and the human services program is all about community safety, stable housing, and economic stability. Crown has honored Jewish community and education leaders with Covenant Awards in the past. Within the arts category, grantseekers should contact Crown for programs that increase access to arts education for pre-K to grade 12 students. The civic affairs program focuses on youth engagement and service learning.

This foundation does not have an online grants database, and grant amounts vary widely. Grantmaking is typically restricted to Chicago, except for its global health program. As a general rule, Crown does not fund individuals, associations, coalitions, film, video, exhibitions, or conferences.

The foundation accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry for its Jewish charitable program, but the other funding categories are typically by invitation only. The foundation has two annual grant cycles, spring and fall. Grantseekers should direct general questions to the staff at 312-750-6671 or


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