Illinois Tool Works Foundation: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Illinois Tool Works Foundation collaborates with other philanthropic entities to carry out most of its grantmaking. The foundation funds a range of programs in the arts, education, environment, health, and social service areas.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, youth programs

IP TAKE: The Illinois Tool Works Foundation follows a model of "lead, do not follow." It prefers to fund organizations that its employees support, although science causes get special attention.

PROFILE: Founded in 1954, the ITW Foundation has a long history of getting its employees involved and volunteering in their communities. Historically, the foundation has given money for every service hour its employees complete at approved organizations of an employee's choice. ITW offers one of the most generous matching programs in the country, with minimum contributions of $25 to eligible organizations of an employee's choice as well. The ITW company got its start in 1912 when a financier named Byron Smith placed an ad in the Economist looking for a Chicago-area business to invest in. The company makes every type of equipment, from automotive parts to dishwashers, and has transformed itself from a Chicago business to a global company and philanthropy machine. Grantmaking areas of interest include arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and youth programs.

ITW Foundation has had several long-term priorities, including support for education, workforce development and readiness around the world, health and human services, and the increasing globalization of the company's outreach efforts. Although science is not one of ITW's grantmaking focus areas, the foundation pays attention to science, math, engineering, and technology organizations that submit proposals. The foundation often teams up with others to make philanthropy a reality. The foundation often put funds into employee matching gifts, scholarships, and United Way donations.

Foundation grants often range from $10,000 to $200,000. Historically, ITW has given out about 250 grants each year, ranging in size from $100 to $6 million, but for the most part, large grants are uncommon and the great majority of them stay below $10,000. Grantees include the United Way, American Cancer Society, and the Red Cross. It also funds organizations like the Adler Planetarium, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Chicago's division of Teach for America, and the University of Chicago. Grantmaking is not limited to the city of Chicago and suburbs because the company has a national and international presence. However, much of the foundation funds still stay in this region.

To see if an organization is eligible for an ITW grant, nonprofits will need to take its funding questionnaire. If approved, the staff will forward an application to complete. ITW typically makes nonprofits wait two years before applying for a second grant. To get in touch with ITW, call the suburban office at (847) 724-7500.


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