Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation mainly supports film in Chicago, but also awards grants to an array of arts and human services causes across the city.

FUNDING AREAS: Film, music, theater, human services, arts for public good

IP TAKE:  Empathy is at the heart of this funder’s giving. Nonprofit programs that show empathy to Chicago’s disadvantaged groups that need it most catch Ebert’s attention.

PROFILE: Established in 2004, the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation is the foundation of the late film critic and his wife, Chaz. Roger Ebert became well known for his film reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times and as a co-host of “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies” and “Sneak Previews.” He also wrote over a dozen books during his lifetime, won a Pulitzer Prize, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Grantmaking supports film, music, theater, human services, and arts for public good.

This foundation does not have a website to guide grantseekers. It has its roots in the entertainment industry, yet it gives to a variety of causes. In addition to film-related grants, the Ebert Foundation supports programs that deploy the arts for public good, and various music and theater causes. Basic needs and human services programs have also been of interest, and much of the foundation’s giving is focused on Chicago. The foundation has previously worked with Sundance Institute to create a fellowship for aspiring film critics. It has also awarded “anniversary grants” to remember the legacy of Roger Ebert around the time of his death from cancer in April of the year. Empathy has been a driving force in this funder’s philanthropic work thus far.

Grants have been relatively small, around $1,000 each, awarded to approximately 10 to 30 local groups in past grant cycles. Grantseekers can review the funder’s recent tax records to learn about past grantees and grant amounts. It is not yet clear if this foundation will ramp up grantmaking in the near future or if its priorities will shift to other local topics in Chicago or beyond. However, it prioritizes the Chicago area.

It does not appear to accept unsolicited applications or provide a clear way to get in touch about grants or general questions. However, the phone number for the Chicago-based foundation is 312-321-9700.


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