A Chicago-based philanthropic couple that many local nonprofits are unfamiliar with is Christopher and Susan Gust. While the Wolverine Asset Management CEO/CIO and his wife maintain a low profile with their donations, they haven’t gone completely unnoticed around town.
Here are a few important things to know about the Christopher and Susan Gust Foundation and its locally focused work in Chicago.
A Focus on Inclusive Education
Even though the Gust Foundation does not have a website, which limits transparency about its grantmaking, recent tax records reveal that there are three main categories that Gust grants fall into: education, health, and human services. However, the biggest of these priorities is education, and the Gust couple is mostly interested in supporting inclusive educational opportunities for Chicago-area students.
With inclusivity at the heart of Gust’s education funding, the couple regularly supports both public and private schools. Gust grants go toward helping students with disabilities, financing through scholarships, and teacher training and support. Numerous grants have funded inclusivity efforts for young students with special needs at elementary schools, such as Ravenswood Elementary School and Jahn Elementary School. This funder has also supported educational conferences that help educators learn about and embrace inclusivity.
Grantmaking is Limited so Far
Christopher and Susan Gust established their foundation about 18 years ago, but Chris Gust is still very much involved in business with Wolverine Asset Management. Thus far, the couple, via their foundation, has been awarding modest grants each year.
In a recent year, the foundation’s total for contributions, gifts, and grants paid was $325,558. Most of these grants have been in the $1,000 to $40,000 range; previous Chicago grantees include the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, Chicago branch of the Special Olympics, and Lakeview Food Pantry. The Gusts regularly provide grantees with general operating funds, teacher training and support, athletic scholarships (Gust used to be a professional baseball player for the Oakland Athletics), food supplies, and equipment funding.
Gust Accepts Unsolicited Requests
While the Gust Foundation is not the most accessible funder for local Chicago nonprofits, it is still very much within reach. The Gusts are open to unsolicited grant applications with virtually no restrictions, deadlines, specific forms, or set guidelines. Chicago nonprofits should simply submit a written request that details the intended purpose and use of the requested grant funds at any time of the year to be considered for the Gust Foundation’s support.
Learn more about the Gust Foundation and other foundations that give locally in this region in IP’s Chicago and Great Lakes funding guide.