Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation: Chicago Grants

OVERVIEW: The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation funds education, health and fitness, and arts and culture organizations almost exclusively in the Chicago area. The foundation's emphasis is on youth programs, and it accepts proposals on an invitation-only basis.

IP TAKE: Pritzker Traubert is one of the few city foundations that make addressing childhood obesity a priority. Although the other funding areas are pretty broad, this one is very specific, which is good news for Chicago nonprofits working in this area.

PROFILE: The Pritzker-Traubert Family Foundation is the creation of the billionaire Chicago power couple Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert. Penny Pritzker is currently the U.S. Commerce Secretary. Her husband, Bryan, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and a nationally renowned medical expert. The larger Pritzker clan is one of the wealthiest families in the country, and are among the leading philanthropists in Chicago.

In a recent year, the foundation reported about $175 million in assets and gave away around $10 million, but it is all over the board in terms of grant amounts, with recent grants ranging from $250 to $5.8 million.

The couple's foundation focuses its grantmaking on three areas: Education, Health and Fitness, and Arts and Culture. Many of Pritzker Traubert grants have gone toward general operating support, rather than particular program funding, and all are concerned in one way or another with "people and programs that enrich the life experiences of Chicago’s children."

In the area of Health and Fitness, Pritzker Traubert has made quite a few grants to fund the construction of athletic fields in Chicago's parksyouth running programs, efforts to adress the childhood obesity epidemic, and initiatives to get Chicago's kids outside and active.

In the education realm, Pritzker has an eye towards developing school leadership, teacher training, and “expanding successful charter school models.” Some recent grantees have included Teach for America, the Academy for Urban School Leadership, Illinois Network of Charter Schools, City Year, and Perspectives Charter Schools. These gifts have generally been in the tens of thousands of dollars, though some have reached into the six figures. 

Past activity at the Pritker Traubert Family Foundation has also included significant support for the arts - particularly initiatives seeking "to broaden access to the arts," espeically for Chicago's children.

Yet the foundation has also made a big recent commitment outside its normal focus on the Windy City. The Smithsonian Institution, which has a number of programs and initiatives geared at youth education, received about $100,000 in a recent year, and according to SI’s Museum of African American History and Culture, Pritzker has committed at least $1 million to this new national museum, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

Although the foundation doesn't publicly share its grantmaking guidelines or application deadlines, grantees are encouraged to contact the program director, Jody Boutell. It wouldn't hurt to take a look at the foundation's grantee portfolio to get a sense of the grantees it considers especially noteworthy.

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