Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

OVERVIEW: Chicago investment advisor, Richard H. Driehaus, started his own family foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, to provide grants for historic preservation, arts, and economic development organizations in the Chicago metropolitan area.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and culture, built environment, economic opportunities for the working poor, investigative reporting

IP TAKE: Support for museum and historic building restoration is only rivaled by the foundation’s dedication to Chicago’s arts and culture community.

PROFILE: Established in 1983, the Richard Driehaus Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of the Chicago investment advisor of the same name. Driehaus started his own firm in the late 1970s. The foundation’s first few years were experimental, but Richard’s personal and professional interests have always driven his foundation’s grantmaking. The foundation’s current funding areas are arts and culture, the built environment, economic opportunity for the working poor, and government accountability/investigative reporting.

Arts and culture grants focus on how the arts play an essential role in life in Chicago, strengthen traditions, and challenge perceptions. The investigative journalism and governmental accountability grant category involves helping democracy to thrive and helping the public improve society. Built environment grants go towards historic preservation, new architecture, and urban planning to establish a sense of place. Finally, economic opportunity grants assist the working poor in Chicago through public policy and advocacy. The foundation does not fund programs for arts education, arts outreach, community theater, community dance, public, private or parochial education, or health care. This foundation tends not to fund large, multi-million-dollar organizations that are well-known throughout the city. 

Foundation grants tend to be between $10,000 and $100,000. A listing of recent grants is published on the funder’s website. Grantmaking is largely limited to Chicago. With only a few exceptions, all Driehaus grantmaking is focused on the Chicago metropolitan area.

At times in the recent past, the foundation has accepted unsolicited grant applications. But at other times it has focused on current grantees and not considered any new proposals. However, grantseekers can apply for the MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation by January or May. These grants range from $3,000 to $20,000. Direct general questions to the staff at 312-577-0987 or via staff member email.

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