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Polk Bros. Foundation, Inc.


Last Updated: 2016-07-17

At A Glance

Polk Bros. Foundation, Inc.

20 W. Kinzie St., Ste. 1110

Chicago, IL United States 60654-5815

Telephone: (312) 527-4684


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2015-08-31)

Assets: $446,769,072

Total giving: $27,220,577





Additional Contact Information

E-mail for Sheila A.


Incorporated in 1957 in IL - Founded by members of the Polk family who owned and operated the Polk Bros. Inc. chain of retail stores. One of the original discounters, Polk Bros. Inc. was founded by Sol Polk in 1935. Brothers Sol, Sam, Harry, David and Morris and their sister, Ghisella "Goldie" Bachmann, ran the business, which was renamed Polk Brothers in 1946. Polk Brothers was a large home appliance and electronics retailer in Chicago, Illinois. The chain officially closed its doors in 1992. The assets were rolled over into the Polk Bros. Foundation.

Purpose and Activities

The mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of Chicago. The foundation partners with local nonprofit organizations that work to reduce the impact of poverty and provide area residents with better access to quality education, preventive health care and basic human services. Through its grantmaking, the foundation strives to make Chicago a place where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:


The program supports in-school work with Chicago public school students, with priority given to programs that include teacher training. It also supports community-based instruction in music, art, dance and theater.


The program focuses on increasing student achievement and strengthening the skills of Chicago Public School principals, teachers and parents. It also supports adult literacy programs that help people advance their education and meet personal and professional goals.


The program’s support for health services reflects a continuing commitment to prevention and access to care. Grants focus on community-based services and the delivery of services in schools.

Matching Gifts

The foundation matches gifts from staff and board members to 501(c)(3) organizations. The minimum gift matched is $25.

Small Grants

The program makes grants of up to $25,000 to organizations with limited funding histories and annual expenses of $75,000 - $500,000. Organizations may receive up to five consecutive grants through the small grants program.

Social Services

The program supports critical services in underserved communities throughout Chicago. There are five focus areas within social services. Priority is given to long-term, intensive work with clients. Grants are made for workforce development, housing and legal service programs as well as youth and family support programs that promote children’s development, strengthen families and help break the cycle of violence. The foundation also supports community and economic development programs that stimulate job creation and financial stability.

Fields of Interest

  • Adult education
  • Adult literacy
  • Arts and culture
  • Child development
  • Child educational development
  • Child welfare
  • Community and economic development
  • Diseases and conditions
  • Diversity and intergroup relations
  • Domestic violence
  • Early childhood education
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Family services
  • Health
  • Higher education
  • Homeless services
  • Human services
  • Judaism
  • Leadership development
  • Legal services
  • Mental health care
  • Museums
  • Nonprofits
  • Performing arts
  • Reading promotion
  • Sustainable development
  • Theater
  • Urban development
  • Vocational education
  • Women's services
  • Youth organizing
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Females
  • Homeless people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • People with disabilities
  • Students
  • Associations
  • Judaic institutions
  • Public charities

Financial Data

Year ended 2015-08-31

Assets: $446,769,072 (market value)

Expenditures: $30,467,334

Total giving: $27,220,577

Qualifying distributions: $29,405,016

Giving activities include:

$25,665,693 for grants

$1,554,884 employee matching gifts