Money Today Combines with Money Tomorrow in Chicago Merger

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September 6, 2012; Source: Chicago Tribune

The Eleanor Foundation (EF), which is more than 110 years old, has announced its intentions to transfer its assets to the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW). The Eleanor Foundation is actually the one with the larger bank account (with 2011 assets of $8.5 million compared to CFW’s $6.5 million in June 2011) but the Eleanor Foundation, which has been giving at very high levels relative to its asset base, has far less fundraising power, coming in at $181,000 last year as compared to CFW’s $1.7 million. This would likely result in its spending out, but it sees need among poor women extending beyond when the last dollar at this rate might be spent. The two organizations have overlapping missions.

NPQ readers may remember that Jane Addams’ Hull House recently closed. Addams and Ina Law Robertson, who founded the Eleanor Foundation, were contemporaries, but EF focused on single women—providing cheap, dormitory-style housing and a host of other services. In 2001, it closed its last residence and focused on grantmaking. “In many ways,” writes the Chicago Tribune columnist Melissa Harris, “its board has overseen a thoughtful and strategic denouement that stands in contrast to the demise of the Jane Addams’ Hull House Association, which abruptly announced it was closing in January, leaving its employees and those who depended on them in limbo.”

As a condition of the relationship, Chicago Foundation for Women must spend $1 million per year for the next three years on “Eleanor Network” economic security grants. –Ruth McCambridge