Negaunee Foundation: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: The Negaunee Foundation was created in 1987 to celebrate the arts and education in greater Chicagoland. 

IP TAKE: A good chunk of this funder's music grants go to organizations in and around Chicago, but Los Angeles is another site of philanthropy. The foundation and its trustees keep a low profile, and the charity does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals. 

PROFILE: The Negaunee Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of Richard W. Colburn and his wife, Robin. The Colburn family was once on Forbes' Richest American Families list. The late Richard D. Colburn steered Consolidated Electrical Distributors (CED) and was also a major financier and advocate of music and music education in Los Angeles. The family still runs CED and Richard W. Colburn is also president of Henley Management Company in Illinois. 

Richard has continued along in the footsteps of his father and strongly focuses on music through the Negaunee Foundation. Much of this grantmaking takes place in Chicago, but Los Angeles is another site of giving. The couple, via Negaunee Foundation, support The Colburn School, a performing arts school in Los Angeles that bears Richard D. Colburn's name. The school includes a conservatory and dance institute. The couple also supports The Colburn Collection, a repository of instruments.

The bulk of this funder's support of music centers on Chicagoland, though. The family via their foundation has given strong support to places like Chicago Lyric Opera, and the Ravinia Festival, an outdoor music festival in Highland Park, Illinois. The family has also supported Steans Institute, Ravinia's summer conservatory. Other Chicago music grantees have included Chicago Youth Symphony, Highland Park Strings, Baroque Band, The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation, Lake Forest Symphony Association, Orchestral Society of Illinois, and Chicago Children’s Choir. 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra is an especially important outfit for the family and home to the Negaunee Institute for Learning, whose mission is to "create and sustain connections to music for individuals and communities." In a recent year, Negaunee Foundation made a $15 million gift to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Outside of Chicago, the couple has supported music outfits like American Friends of the Edinburgh International Festival, and Los Angeles Philharmonic,  where Colburn's father was a lifetime director. The Negaunee Foundation's grantmaking also includes support of music education. Grantees have included Merit School of Music, and the Sherwood Conservatory of Music. 

In a recently reported tax year, the foundation made a total of around $9.4 million in grants, up from around $5 million a few years prior. It appears that grantmaking is on the rise. Grants tend to be under $100,000 but a handful exceed that number. 


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The Negaunee Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the family but below is an address:

The Negaunee Foundation
555 Skokie Blvd., Ste. 555
Northbrook, IL 60062