Grantees include parochial schools like Saint Ignatius College Prep. Photo: Roberto Galan/shutterstock
Grantees include parochial schools like Saint Ignatius College Prep. Photo: Roberto Galan/shutterstock

There are a few major philanthropists across the country with the last name of Kavanaugh, but one lesser-known Kavanaugh worth learning about is Dave Kavanaugh of Oak Lawn, Illinois. He owns United States Brass and Copper, a direct source supplier of mill products that has been in operation since 1925. Dave and his wife created the Kavanaugh Family Foundation (KFF) in 2009 to channel their philanthropic giving and quietly award grants to local causes they care about.

Here are a few things that Chicago-area grantseekers should know about KFF.

A Chicago Focus

Kavanaugh lives in the Chicago area and his company is based in Downers Grove, a Chicago suburb. His philanthropy tends to stay in the region. There are no full-time, paid staff members at KFF—this is a very family-run foundation with Kavanaugh family members in all of the officer roles. Chicago-based grantees include the St. Vincent DePaul Society and the Cara Program. While not nearly as common, grants have gone to groups in nearby Ohio and Wisconsin from time to time.

Primary Interests Are Education and Youth

KFF’s prevailing interest is parochial schools, but the foundation supports other education- and youth-focused causes as well. It typically provides a few hundred thousand dollars in grants per year, and much of that goes to local high schools like St. Ignatius College Prep and Marian Catholic High School. St. Ignatius College Prep is where Dave Kavanaugh graduated from school in 1957.

Other grants have gone to the Little Company of Mary Foundation and the Howard Young Foundation. Both of these organizations are involved in health, which is an additional interest for this funder.

No Unsolicited Requests

KFF does not have a website or publicly share details about its grantmaking. However, past tax records indicate that this funder does not accept unsolicited grant requests and only funds pre-selected organizations. It appears to typically fund organizations it is already familiar with, and do so for multiple years in a row. David and Mary Kavanaugh are the foundation’s main contributors, but United States Brass and Copper makes contributions as well. The founding couple has four children, who could very well be more involved in the family philanthropy in the future.

For more details, check out IP’s full profile, Kavanaugh Family Foundation: Grants for Illinois, in our Chicago and Great Lakes funding guide.

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