Helen V. Brach Foundation: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Helen V. Brach Foundation is based in Chicago and supports animal anti-cruelty organizations, education, youth services, and art.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, literacy, animal cruelty, youth services, and arts and culture

IP TAKE: Brach is one of the few foundations that award grants to animal shelters and anti-cruelty programs in the city. There is a lot of Chicago history surrounding this foundation, so learn a bit about this funder’s background before getting involved.

PROFILE: Established in 1974, Helen V. Brach Foundation is the foundation of Helen Brach, the wife of Frank Brach, who was the principal and owner of E.J. Brach and Sons Candy Company. Frank sold the company in 1966 and died in 1970. Helen started the foundation a few years later as a way to use the fortune to stop abuses against children and animals. On February 17, 1977, Helen mysteriously disappeared, prompting an investigation that uncovered criminal activity associated with stable owners in Chicago. She was never heard from again, her body was never found, and she was declared legally dead in 1984. Today, foundation areas of giving interest are education, literacy, animal cruelty, youth services, and arts and culture.

Although the foundation's main focus has been on the prevention of cruelty against animals and children, grants are also awarded regularly to education and arts organizations. Past Brach grantees in the Chicago area include the Big Shoulders Fund, Dominican University, the Brookfield Zoo and the Anti-Animal Cruelty Society of Chicago. The foundation doesn't have a website and doesn't make itself very accessible to nonprofit organizations or the general public.

Brach keeps most of its grants within the $5,000 to $50,000 range and doesn't typically approve any grants under $5,000. In a recent year, the funder exceeded over $7 million in total giving. Grantseekers can learn more about this funder’s giving by examining its tax records. Grant proposals are typically reviewed by Brach's board during its March meetings each year, meaning application deadlines tend to fall on December 31.

It does not appear that this foundation accepts unsolicited grant applications from nonprofits. The foundation’s phone number is 312-372-4417 and its address is 104 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603.


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