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A message from the Driehaus Foundation’s Executive Director:

We are pleased to announce that on April 17th the Foundation’s Board of Directors approved four legacy grants in memory of our founder, Richard H. Driehaus. The legacy grants are the largest grants ever awarded by the Foundation in its 31-year history. They reflect Richard’s passion for architecture, historic preservation, the arts, investigative journalism, and love for his hometown Chicago.

We honor Richard’s extraordinary legacy in a special way that reflects his devotion and vision for equitable and vibrant communities through support of the arts, the built environment, and investigative journalism.

We are delighted to announce the following four recipients and how the legacy grants will support the work of these organizations. Most of the recipients have a long history with the Foundation and were admired by Richard for their impact and accomplishments. It is a privilege for the Foundation to continue Richard’s philanthropy and to honor him through these legacy grants.

Congratulations to the awardees! We value your important work and look forward to your future accomplishments.

Anne Lazar
Executive Director 

Laramie State Bank Building located at 5200 West Chicago Avenue in Chicago’s Austin community. The building was included on Preservation Chicago's Chicago Most Endangered list in 2019. Photo by Eric Allix Rogers, courtesy of Preservation Chicago

$2,300,000 legacy grant to Preservation Chicago

Preservation Chicago is dedicated to preserving buildings across the city that are architecturally and culturally significant. They reflect Chicago’s history and many are located in disinvested communities.

Since 2003, Preservation Chicago has become well known for its annual Chicago 7 list identifying imminently threatened historic buildings and other public assets in Chicago to elevate awareness, mobilize stakeholder support, and develop preservation solutions. This grant will establish the Richard H. Driehaus Endowment Fund and the Richard H. Driehaus Executive Director at Preservation Chicago.

“Richard was our champion. He passionately believed in our mission to preserve historic buildings in every Chicago neighborhood. This grant will provide our organization long-term sustainability. It gives us the resources to grow,” said Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago Executive Director. “We will be able to hire a director of development and expand our reach and impact significantly.”

Image courtesy of Arts Work Fund

$1,500,000 legacy grant to Arts Work Fund

Arts Work Fund is a funding collaborative designed to help strengthen the management and operation of small arts organizations in the Chicago area. The legacy grant will support its new Thrive grant program which will provide three-year unrestricted grants to arts organizations in the Chicago area that serve BILPOC communities, women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities. Community-rooted arts groups have been historically underfunded. In the last five years, general operating support has diminished even more for them.

“Richard was known for supporting smaller, neighborhood arts organizations that are often overlooked by large foundations. The Driehaus Foundation has been an Arts Work Fund partner since our inception in 2007,” said Marica Festen, Arts Work Fund Director. “Richard believed in the transformative power of the arts and was always looking for new ways to address inequities and provide opportunities for people. This generous legacy grant does that and comes at a crucial time.”

Left to right: Richard H. Driehaus, the 2018 First Place winners of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting, and BGA President and CEO David Greising. Photo by Stockenström Photography, courtesy of the Better Government Association

$1,434,000 legacy grant to the Better Government Association

The Better Government Association is a 100-year-old, nonprofit news organization and civic advocate working for transparency, efficiency, and accountability in government in Chicago and across Illinois.

This grant establishes a new statewide investigative and solutions reporting initiative for the BGA's Illinois Answers Project Newsroom. It will fund an “embed” program in which BGA investigative reporters will partner with local newsrooms in Illinois cities outside of Chicago including Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, and Champaign. The grant comes at a critical time when newsrooms have seen their reporting staffs greatly reduced. It is especially dire in smaller news markets.

The Foundation has a long history with the BGA. Together in 2004, we established the annual Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting. The legacy grant will continue to fund this as well.

“I once asked Richard why he chose to support investigative journalism with his philanthropy. He answered because of the impact. You get a very good return on your investment,” said BGA President and CEO David Greising. “Nonprofit journalism like this can help address the staffing cutbacks in the newsrooms. We are committed to using the legacy grant to pursue great investigative and solutions journalism and report important stories that impact the public good in Illinois."

American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of the Driehaus Foundation

$125,000 legacy grant to the American College of the Building Arts

The Foundation is awarding a legacy grant of $125,000 to the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, South Carolina to establish and fund the Richard H. Driehaus Study Abroad Program at the American College of the Building Arts. It is the only four-year college in the United States offering a liberal arts degree in the historic building arts. The College was founded after Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston in 1989. The rebuilding effort there was hampered after the hurricane because there were not enough skilled craftsmen available to rebuild its historic structures. The College was established in 2005 to resurrect what had become a dying but necessary art.

“Thanks to this grant our students will be able to study in Europe with some of the most skilled craftsmen in the world and perfect their skills and knowledge. It is a tremendous opportunity for our students. The majority receive financial aid and would not have the means to pay for a study abroad program without this grant,” said Chad Urban, Chief Financial Officer at the American College of the Building Arts. “Richard deeply valued historic preservation and classical architecture and we are proud to help advance his vision with the work we do at the College.”

Please join us in celebrating the great work of these organizations and the legacy of Richard H. Driehaus!

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