FUNDING AREAS: Children's charities.
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Former baseball pitcher, Chicago Cubs
NET WORTH: $2.5 million
CONTACT: Alex, Wood Family Foundation, 2531 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL, 60614, 312-924-9234, firstname.lastname@example.org
INSIDE TAKE: The Woods support almost any cause having to do with making children's lives better.
PROFILE: Regardless if you’re a Cubs fan or a Sox fan, Kerry Wood is a good name to get familiar with if you’re in the business of philanthropy. With a net worth of more than $2.5 million, the former Chicago Cubs pitcher and his wife have been giving to children’s charities for the past ten years. They developed the Wood Family Foundation (WFF) in June 2011 to raise awareness about the programs and causes they support for Chicago’s children.
Kerry and Sarah kicked off their foundation by funding a playroom at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Since that time, the Woods have sponsored back-to-school supply and clothing drives, summer baseball clinics, and toy drives for Chicago Public School students in targeted neighborhoods.
While thirteen years playing in major league baseball, Kerry Wood started a family with wife, Sarah, and three children, Justin, Katie, and Charlotte. In the near future, the Woods will host an opening day celebration with oncology patients at the Lurie Children’s Hospital, a mother-daughter tea and fashion show at Neiman Marcus, and Woody’s Whiffle Ball Classic at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The Woods have also teamed up with the University of Illinois at Chicago to offer a scholarship to benefit graduating seniors from Chicago’s low income Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, and Lawndale neighborhoods.
The Woods’ non-profit foundation welcomes public contributions in the form of cash, stocks, or appreciated assets. They also have Major League Baseball store items up for auction to benefit the foundation. Kerry has done everything from dress up as Santa Claus to throw pizza parties at elementary schools in their four targeted low-income neighborhoods, especially Nash Elementary in the Austin neighborhood.
In a Huffington Post interview, Kerry said, “We don’t really have a family business to pass on to the kids, and I think my wife and I decided that this is something we want to have something there for them. My son is already involved and I know my daughters are going to get involved as they get older. This is something that we can leave to them and continue to help people.” Kerry went on to say, “Anything to do with kids, anything we can do to help. Any organization in the community that needs help and wants to help out kids, we want to be involved in.”
This is good news if your non-profit organization is looking for a grant that has anything at all to do with children. Upcoming funding projects for Kerry and Sarah include building a baseball field one of their targeted neighborhoods, community-wide drives for toys, coats, and school supplies, and developing the Wood Family Foundation Baseball Clinic.
"I am proud of the work I have done in the past, but when I see how dedicated former Chicago athletes are or were to philanthropies, like Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Bob Love, Walter Payton and Gayle Sayers, those people inspire me to do more and help more," Kerry said in a press release. The Woods are being honored with the Emerging Philanthropist Award at Chicago’s Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ upcoming luncheon.
The Woods like to be directly and heavily involved with their projects, rather than simply writing a check. They use tried-and-true fundraising methods like baking cupcakes and hosting bowling tournaments. Simply put, Kerry and Sarah’s down-to-earth version of philanthropy makes them approachable. Your organization doesn’t have to involve baseball, but being a Cubs fan sure wouldn’t hurt…as long as your focus is on Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods. Although WFF doesn’t publicize grant application guidelines or deadlines, your best bet it to contact them by email at email@example.com.