Most nonprofits probably have yet to hear about attorney William R. Jentes and his wife, Janet, a philanthropic couple in based in Chicago. Jentes was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis for about four decades, and the family’s foundation has been around since 1988.

The Jentes Family Foundation (JFF) maintains a very low profile and can be challenging to get to know as a first-time grantseeker. To shed some light on the Jentes’ giving, here are the basics on the couple’s Chicago-focused philanthropy.

Four Big Areas of Focus

The Jentes Family Foundation does not have a website, which makes it difficult to know exactly what it’s looking to support from year to year. Much of what we can ascertain about JFF comes from past tax filings. According to the most recent tax documents publicly available, JFF regularly supports the arts, health, education and youth. Although those are the foundation’s four biggest topics of interest, grantmaking tends to be broad and follows the Jentes’ personal interests.

Prioritizing Needs in Chicago

JFF has a strong dedication to the city of Chicago. Almost all grants stay in the Chicago region, making this an important local grantmaker to get familiar with. Some examples of past local grantees include 826Chi, Near North Montessori, Ounce of Prevention and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Most JFF grants go toward program support rather than general operating support or capital costs. In recent years, the foundation has awarded a few hundred thousand dollars annually, with many grants ranging from $3,000 to $50,000.

A Closed Application Process

Tax records also indicate that JFF is not willing to consider unsolicited grant applications and that it only funds pre-selected organizations. The funder does not publicly share any grantmaking guidelines or deadlines, so grantseekers may need a personal affiliation with the Jentes couple to catch their attention and secure funding.

Furthermore, JFF does not have any paid employees or its own staff. William Jentes is the foundation president and director, while other directors include Janet Jentes, Justine Jentes and Donald Kempf, Jr.

To learn more about this foundation and access contact information to reach out to JFF with general questions, check out IP’s full profile of the Jentes Family Foundation. Also, be sure to browse through our Chicago and Great Lakes funding guide to learn about more funders that make Chicago their top priority.

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