Driehaus Foundation Awards “Transformational” $2.3 Million Endowment Grant to Preservation Chicago

“‘Richard led a life of zest and intellectual curiosity. His path and personal story were larger than life, and the impact he made as an investor is perhaps only rivaled by the extensive legacy he left as a philanthropist,’ said Steve Weber, president Driehaus Capital Management.

Driehaus Foundation Awards ‘Transformational’ $2.3 Million Endowment Grant to Preservation Chicago. Image credit: Preservation Chicago Tweet

“Two years after Chicago philanthropist Richard Driehaus died, his foundation is awarding more than $5 million in ‘transformational’ legacy grants to support the causes he cared about most — historic preservation, the arts and investigative journalism.

“The largest grants in the foundation’s 31-year history, announced Monday, will primarily benefit three Chicago-based organizations — Preservation Chicago, Arts Work Fund and the Better Government Association — providing a charitable windfall to sustain and expand their work.

“‘The organizations that these grants are going to, for the most part, are ones with which there was a really long relationship with the foundation,’ said Anne Lazar, executive director of the Driehaus Foundation. ‘These are grants that establish an entirely different level of program work.’

“Preservation Chicago, a small nonprofit organization best known for its annual list of the city’s most endangered historic structures, tops the recipients with a $2.3 million grant — nearly five times its annual budget. The two-year grant, the largest in Preservation Chicago’s 21-year history, will be used to establish an endowment fund and hire a full-time development director.

“‘Building up the endowment would give the organization more stability and longevity,’ said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. ‘This is the beginning of a really amazing, transformative process.’

“The grassroots group — it currently has four full-time employees — has been punching above its weight since inception, working to save everything from historic churches and warehouses to early Chicago skyscrapers. Among the organization’s hundreds of victories was the 2021 Chicago landmark designation for the South Side home of Emmett Till, a monument to the Civil Rights Movement.

“Last week, Preservation Chicago helped get preliminary landmark recommendations for The Warehouse, the three-story West Loop birthplace of house music, as well as the Century and Consumers buildings, terra cotta skyscrapers facing demolition in the Loop.

“Miller said the Driehaus Foundation gave Preservation Chicago its first grant nearly 20 years ago, and has been supporting its work ever since. He is hoping the endowment fund will be the gift that keeps on giving, encouraging other donors to follow suit.” (Channick, Chicago Tribune, 4/18/23)

“We are pleased to announce that on April 17th the Foundation’s Board of Directors approved four legacy grants in memory of our founder, Richard H. Driehaus. The legacy grants are the largest grants ever awarded by the Foundation in its 31-year history. They reflect Richard’s passion for architecture, historic preservation, the arts, investigative journalism, and love for his hometown Chicago,” said Anne Lazar, Driehaus Foundation Executive Director in a written statement.

“We honor Richard’s extraordinary legacy in a special way that reflects his devotion and vision for equitable and vibrant communities through support of the arts, the built environment, and investigative journalism,” said Lazar.

“We are delighted to announce the following four recipients and how the legacy grants will support the work of these organizations,” said Lazar. “Most of the recipients have a long history with the Foundation and were admired by Richard for their impact and accomplishments. It is a privilege for the Foundation to continue Richard’s philanthropy and to honor him through these legacy grants.”

“‘Richard was our champion. He passionately believed in our mission to preserve historic buildings in every Chicago neighborhood. This grant will provide our organization long-term sustainability. It gives us the resources to grow,’ said Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago Executive Director.” (Driehaus Foundation Announces Special Legacy Grants in Memory of Founder Richard H. Driehaus, Driehaus Foundation Website, April 2023)

Read the full story at Driehaus Foundation website and the Chicago Tribune

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