Photo: Naeblys/shutterstock
Photo: Naeblys/shutterstock

The Chicago metro area is home to the corporate headquarters of many well-established companies that engage in philanthropic giving. One example, Illinois Tool Works (ITW), is an industrial equipment manufacturing company that was founded over 100 years ago and is based in the Chicago suburb of Glenview. Although ITW has grown into a global enterprise, selling its aerospace technologies, wind turbines and deep-sea oil rigs all over the world, it still maintains a connection to its home community in its giving.

Here are three ways ITW’s charitable foundation approaches grantmaking where the company’s employees live and work.

1. Focus on STEM Education

ITW launched a philanthropic organization called the Illinois Tool Works Foundation (ITWF) in 1954. Over the years, STEM education has emerged as the foundation’s top priority. The aim is to improve access to high-quality education and prepare youth in underserved communities for careers.

A big part of this is the ITW David Speer Academy, which is named after the company’s former chairman and CEO. With regard to STEM, the company foundation has been interested in engaging with global leaders, piloting new electives, giving students hands-on experiences and preparing the future workforce through internships. On the higher education front, the ITWF gave $1.1 million to renovate science and engineering laboratories at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

2. Chicago and the Suburbs

Although ITW has global reach, many of its charitable grants stay close to home. For example, ITWF has steadily provided grant support to schools that specialize in STEM education in and around Chicago. It has also funded programs at museums and nature centers in Illinois, as well as after-school programs that target at-risk youth. Past local grantees include Kids First Chicago, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Symphony.

3. Employee-Driven

As with many corporate foundations, much of ITWF’s giving reflects employee involvement. This is especially true when it comes to local grantmaking in Illinois.

The company offers a generous matching program and gives money for service hours its employees complete. In fact, ITW offers a three-for-one corporate match for qualified charitable giving by its employees and has a volunteer match program that provides a $10 corporate donation for every volunteer hour completed. There’s also the company’s annual day of service, which brought together more than 450 people to complete over 3,920 hours of volunteer service for partner charities in 2019.

During the past five years, the company’s financial support has totaled at least $114.9 million. Learn more about the Illinois Tool Works Foundation in IP’s Chicago and Great Lakes Funding Guide.

Share with cohorts