Matt Blakely, Motorola Solutions Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director 

FUNDING AREAS: Science education, public safety, and disaster relief

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: This lifelong Chicagoan has worked at some of the region's largest private and corporate foundations and now oversees Motorola's philanthropy, which includes significant funding for science education.

PROFILE: Matt Blakely is Executive Director of the corporate foundation for Motorola Solutions, which gives to programs that include science education, public safety, and disaster relief. A lifelong Chicagoan, Blakely has nearly 20 years of experience working in philanthropy in the region, with particular expertise in corporate giving and support for education. He's also quite plugged in to the city's philanthropic and nonprofit community, serving on a number of boards and advisory committees.

Blakely has worked with Motorola's corporate giving since he was hired by the telecommunications company in 2005. When the firm split and rebranded as Motorola Solutions in 2011, he took over as director of Motorola Solutions Foundation.

The foundation gives hundreds of wide-ranging grants in the United States and more than 37 other countries, but the major programs involve STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, public safety support for first responders, and humanitarian relief for disasters. (Download a list of grants here.)

While program officers and foundation directors often start in a field and then move into philanthropy supporting that field, Blakely has worked chiefly in grantmaking since he graduated college in 1992. In particular, he has experience with guiding corporate giving in Chicago and across the U.S.

A true Illinoisan, he attended high school in Chicago Heights just south of the city and went on to attend DePaul University and graduate from Illinois State University. Early in his career, Blakely interned at MacArthur Foundation, the largest funder in the state and one of the largest in the country. He went on to work for the corporate foundation of Sara Lee, which was dissolved when the company split and became the Hillshire Brands Company.

Blakely took on his largest role prior to Motorola serving as senior program officer in the Communities Program at McCormick Tribune Foundation, which is now the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. McCormick is a billion-dollar-plus foundation, and the program Blakely ran takes a unique strategy of partnering with other organizations—media outlets, sports teams, and philanthropic organizations—to support work in their communities, helping with fund-raising and then matching funds. In that program, he helped guide the charitable giving of 11 different companies across the country.

Now at Motorola Solutions Foundation, Blakely oversees not only grantmaking but the company's overall corporate social responsibility, including corporate contributions and employee volunteer programs.

Like many corporate foundations, Motorola Solutions seeks to tie its philanthropy into the mission of the company. In this case, the foundation is a big supporter STEM education in the United States and globally, which Blakely says addresses the troubling shortage of scientists and engineers in the tech and manufacturing sectors. This support includes a combination of scholarship funds, professional societies, youth programs, minority programs, science centers, K-12 schools, universities and libraries. It’s a long list of diverse grants.

The foundation also backs the public safety community, with a focus on first responders, which connects to the fact that Motorola has long provided such workers with their telecommunications equipment. Another are of support is humanitarian response to disasters. Blakely even personally toured Haiti two years after the devastating earthquake occurred to see how reconstruction was progressing. This kind of trip is not uncommon for Blakely. He often travels as a representative of Motorola's philanthropy, whether to disaster sites, to participate in science competitions, or to award specific grants.

Blakely is also quite active in the Chicago area, particularly in the education community. He is board chairman for science education nonprofit Project Exploration, serves on the Corporate Advisory Council for the Adler Planetarium, sits on the leadership committee of the STEM Funders Network, and is on the Chicago History Museum’s LGBT Advisory Council.

Learn more about the foundation's giving here.