Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: Retired Merrill Lynch investment banking executive Charles Ashby Lewis and his wife, Penny Bender Sebring, established Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation to support youth services, education, higher education, and human services in the Chicago area.

FUNDING AREAS: Youth services, education, higher education, human services

IP TAKE: Urban schooling has been one of the biggest points of focus for the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation over the years. Grants tend to go to large, well-established nonprofits, and grants in the millions of dollars aren’t uncommon.

PROFILE: Established in 1996, the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation is based in Evanston, Illinois and giving is mostly limited to Chicago and this northern suburb. It is the foundation of Retired Merrill Lynch investment banking executive Charles Ashby Lewis and his wife, Penny Bender Sebring. Charles Ashby Lewis serves as the family foundation’s Chairman today. Prior to assuming this role full-time, he spent 34 years at Merrill Lynch & Co. as the investment bank’s vice chairman. Foundation grantmaking interests include youth services, education, higher education, and human services.

Public education is a Lewis-Sebring priority, and the foundation has been a prominent supporter of The Chicago Public Education Fund. The funder once awarded a $5 million grant to the University of Chicago to support its work to improve urban schooling in Chicago and nationwide. Other foundation grants have gone to the University of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Lewis-Sebring giving tends to gravitate toward big-name and well-established institutions in the city that already have a pre-existing relationship with the couple.

Most foundation grants range in size between $10,000 and $100,000 each. Assets and giving have remained fairly steady over recent years. View the funder's recent tax records to learn about past grantees. The Lewis-Sebring couple has strong ties to Evanston, as they and some of their children and grandchildren live in the suburb. However, the foundation also gives heavily in the city of Chicago.

The Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation doesn’t have a website and doesn’t make its grantmaking processes known to the public. It does not appear to accept unsolicited grant applications. Direct general inquiries to the foundation at 847-328-4310.  


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