Satter Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

OVERVIEW: The Satter Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of finance couple Muneer Satter and his wife Kristen Hertel, and the foundation disperses grants in a number of different areas. One priority is education reform (charters and advocacy organizations) in Chicago, but the foundation also backs national conservative policy organizations whose portfolios include education work.

IP TAKE: The foundation flies well under the radar, making it difficult to get a handle on exactly what the Satters look for in education grantees. Moreover, a recent 990 indicates that the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.

PROFILE: The Satter Foundation was established in 1997 by then Goldman Sachs partner Muneer Satter and his wife Kristen Hertel. Satter held a 0.325 percent stake in Goldman prior to its 1999 IPO, worth millions. Satter spent years commuting from Chicago to New York racking up frequent flier miles, and reportedly donated millions of them to Room to Read, a nonprofit that delivers books to children in developing countries.

Like many charitable vehicles associated with Goldman Sachs veterans, the Satter Foundation flies well under the radar, with minimal information for grantseekers. The foundation held some $73 million in assets in a recent fiscal year and gave away around $6.3 million. Another recent tax form reflects some 90 grantees.

Muneer Satter is an active Republican donor and a top backer of a number of Republican candidates as well as a supporter of major conservative policy outfits like American Enterprise Institute (where he serves as a national council cochair) and the Heritage Foundation. 

These perspectives also influence the Satter couple's education philanthropy through their foundation, which is strongly in favor of charters. They are primary supporters of New Schools for Chicago, which opens and supports charter and district-run schools. Between 2011 and 2016, the Satter Foundation gave between $1 million and $2 million to New Schools for Chicago alone.

The couple via their Satter Foundation have also recently funded Academy for Urban School Leadership (which received a $200,000 grant recently), KIPP Ascend Charter School, Noble Network of Charter Schools, Perspectives Charter Schools, Teach for America, and Winnetka Public Schools Foundation.

Another important grantee is Accelerate Institute (formerly known as Alain Locke Initiative), which is committed to closing the achievement by creating "high-impact, transformational school leaders that accelerate student achievement." The outfit also runs a charter school.  While Satter's K-12 education philanthropy is focused on Chicagoland, they've also recently supported Bronx Success Academy in New York.

Kristen, by the way, graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in education and social policy and serves as an active member of the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy’s advisory board. A recent Satter Foundation grant went to Northwestern School of Education. The couple also supports youth organizations like StreetSquash, Jumpstart, and Girls, Inc.

In addition to education, the Satter couple's philanthropy extends to interest areas that include global development, health, the environment and policy organizations, at the national and regional levels. While it's unclear what the foundation's recent grants to outfits like American Enterprise Institute and Illinois Policy Institute were directed towards, these organizations do include education policy in their work.

Bottom line: those working in education reform in Chicago might find a friend in Satter. The foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the couple, but you can try reaching them at the address below.


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The Satter Foundation
500 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 1700
Chicago, IL 60611