This Chicago-Area Investor Couple Is Focused on Youth and Education

photo: Liderina/shutterstock

photo: Liderina/shutterstock

Professional investors make up a sizable percentage of U.S. philanthropists because of the immense wealth they’ve been able to build in just a few decades. One investor making an impact on the Chicago philanthropy scene that we’ve been particularly interested in is Paul Finnegan, co-founder of Madison Dearborn Partners. Paul established a family foundation in the 1990s with his wife, Mary. Let’s take a closer look at the Finnegan Family Foundation to get a better sense of how this locally focused funder operates around town.

Education and Youth Are Top Causes

More than anything else, the Finnegan Family Foundation supports local education and youth causes. The couple has a longstanding interest in Chicago’s youngest residents, and Paul Finnegan is a past chairman and current board member of Teach for America in Chicago, as well as a member of Teach for America’s National Board.

Meanwhile, Mary Finnegan serves on the Youth & Opportunity United (YOU) board and also on the board of Evanston Scholars. Past foundation grantees include KIPP Chicago Schools, Ounce of Prevention, and Cherry Preschool. Aside from education, the foundation occasionally supports health, human services, arts and culture, and Jewish causes.

Grant Amounts Vary Greatly

In a recent year, the Finnegan Family Foundation reported over $24 million in total net assets. While an occasional grant hits the million-dollar mark, most stay in the $1,000 to $25,000 range. Some of the top-earning grantees include Metropolitan Family Services, Noble Network of Charter Schools, and OneGoal—all of them Chicago grantees that received $100,000 or more from the funder in recent grant cycles. Unfortunately for nonprofits, the foundation does not publicly share grantseeker guidelines, nor does it appear to accept unsolicited grant requests.

Grantmaking is Laser-Focused on Chicago

Something else that stands out about the Finnegan Family Foundation is how locally focused its grantmaking is, year after year. A majority of the grantees are based in Chicago or suburban Evanston, with very few grants ever leaving Northern Illinois. The Finnegans lives in Evanston, and the only other staff member is Albert Ward McCally III, who serves as the foundation’s president and director. For Chicago-area grantees, this foundation provides a nice mix of unrestricted general operating support, program support, and challenge grants.

This foundation has a website, but it provides nothing more than contact information, at least for now. Check back later to see if they add more helpful information for grantseekers. In the meantime, learn more about how the Finnegan Family Foundation gives in Chicago by reading IP’s profile in our Chicago funders guide.