Richard and Barbara Franke

NET WORTH: Unknown 

SOURCE OF WEALTH: John Nuveen Company

FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth (Humanities), Arts & Culture

OVERVIEW: Richard Franke and his wife Barbara move their philanthropy through the Franke Family Charitable Foundation. The couple are strong patrons of the humanities at their alma maters and several other institutions. The Chicago area is a significant site of giving.

BACKGROUND: Richard J. Franke received a B.A. from Yale University in 1953, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Franke spent his business career as an investment banker with the John Nuveen Company, retiring in 1996 as chairman and CEO. 


EDUCATION & YOUTH: The Frankes have been strong patrons of the humanities for years. In 1988, Franke helped found the Chicago Humanities Festival, which brings together artists and cultural critics from all over the world. In 1997, he was in the first cohort to receive the new National Humanities Medal from President Clinton. In the late 1990s, Franke and Barbara gave $2.5 million to University of Chicago's Humanities Institute, renaming it The Franke Institute for the Humanities. Yale University is home to the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities.

The couple have supported Harvard Business School, Colorado College, Northwestern University (Barbara's alma mater), and Hackley School. The couple have funded several humanities fellowships at Northwestern. 

ARTS & CULTURE: Grantees include Lyric Opera of Chicago (Franke is a life director), Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Court Theater at University of Chicago, which the couple have steadily supported. They've supported University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art.

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect the Frankes to continue their strong patronage of the humanities.


The foundation accepts written narratives with proof of 501(c) status to:

Richard J. Franke
676 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2920
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 573-2743