Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation

OVERVIEW: Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation's Chicagoland grantmaking involves DuPage County, as well as Chicago proper. The Kolschowskys are steady backers of the Lutheran church and interested in fighting hunger and poverty, not only in the Chicago area, but also on a global level.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, religious, health and human services

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

PROFILE: Gerald and Karen Kolschowsky founded the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation in the 1980s. Gerald was once the chairman and co-CEO of OSI Industries, a global food company, and Karen is a former teacher. Their son, Tim, now serves as the foundation's president. Grantmaking areas of interest include education, religious, and health and human services.

The Kolschowsky family via their foundation has given nearly $2 million annually to nonprofits in recent years. The couple is Lutheran, and they support various churches and religious causes through their foundation. In the Chicago area, they've supported Parliament of the World's Religions, which was "created to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world." Other grantees have included Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, ELCA Foundation, Lutheran Campus Ministry at Northwestern University, and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). The couple has an interest in interfaith relations and helped establish A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at LSTC.

The couple's Lutheran faith also seems to inform their human services grantmaking in Chicago and beyond. For instance, they've supported Bethel New Life, a social services organization in Chicago formed by a Lutheran church. The family has given especially strong sums to Bridge Communities, a "grassroots, nonprofit organization that provides transitional housing and programs to assist homeless families." Other grantees have included Children's Home & Aid Society of Illinois. The family also supports health outfits in the Chicago area like Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in DuPage County and American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. 

The Kolschowskys support education in Chicago, as well. Grantees have included Art Institute of Chicago, Augustana College, and Aurora University, where they've helped support the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School. Outside of Chicago it's worth noting that the Kolschowskys have given millions to Kolschowsky's alma mater Iowa State, largely towards supporting a College of Agriculture program that helps developing nations address rural hunger and poverty.

Foundation grants tend to range from $500 to $20,000. Review the funder’s recent tax records to learn about past grantees. Grantmaking is not restricted to the Chicago area, but a significant portion of grants still stay in this region.

The foundation keeps a low-profile and does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals. Based in suburban Downers Grove, Illinois, the funder’s phone number is 630-969-2000.


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