IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation

Who we are

Our mission is to provide young people with opportunities that help them reach their full potential. We began our philanthropic journey back in 1998, with the launch of the IMC Weekendschool in Amsterdam. The success of this school, which provides opportunities for more than 1,000 students across the Netherlands, has been an inspiration for our charitable efforts in Chicago.

With IMC’s expansion to Chicago in 2008, we founded the IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation. Since then, we’ve been focused on enhancing educational opportunities within the public school system to help students thrive.

Our funding strategy

Our funding strategy has three main approaches:

  1. Supporting schools
  2. Funding life-skills programs
  3. Investing in early childhood development

Foundation timeline

In our founding year, we develop our first school partnership in Chicago with Daniel Corkery Elementary.

We partner with an additional school, George Washington Elementary, to fund after school programs and classroom technology. We also launch a scholarship program for select students who wish to attend a tuition-based college preparatory high school. This program closes in 2018 with a total of 14 students, all of whom graduated from high school and planned to continue their studies.

We partner with Urban Prep Academies Bronzeville Campus and launch a math tutoring program, where IMC employees visit the campus to work one-on-one with students.

We begin our employee financial matching program to double the impact of employees’ personal giving. This includes our first year of supporting the financial and time commitment of an IMC employee to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.

The Foundation identifies Sports-Based Youth Development as a funding priority and makes its first grant to Urban Initiatives.

Our first Trading for Charity Day: all global proceeds from the day’s trading go to a Save the Children literacy project in Haiti. The following year, seven of our employees visit Haiti to support the initiative.

The Dutch Royal Couple pay a visit to Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy High School, one of our partner schools in Chicago.

In partnership with the Johann Cruyff Foundation, the Chicago Park District and Urban Initiatives, we fund the construction of Cruyff Court soccer field at Chicago’s Rainey Park.

IMC establishes a partnership with Room to Read. Employees select a new focus for Trading for Charity Day: a literacy program in Tanzania.

IMC employees visit Room to Read literacy projects in Tanzania, witnessing the project’s impact first-hand.

As part of our three-year grant commitment to Northwestern Settlement, we give students the opportunity to visit a rural setting in Wisconsin where they learn camping skills while expanding their scientific knowledge.

IMC makes a four-year grant commitment to fund Embarc’s experiential learning programs for the inaugural four classes of students at Englewood STEM High School.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IMC donates $10 million beyond its regular grantmaking to support global relief work and basic needs for those affected by the virus.

Our giving so far


Causes supported


Donated to causes


Employee donations matched

Our leadership team

Lisa Wiersma, Executive Director of the IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation

Lisa Wiersma has led the Foundation since its inception in 2010. She focuses on setting priorities for grantmaking and identifying and connecting with community partners. She embraces the range of activities that have been unique to IMC's giving since 2010, a range that has included digging dirt for a playground renovation, attending a scholarship students' soccer game, serving on the Board of a teacher leadership organization, and welcoming a King and Queen to a CPS school. Prior to this role, Lisa was the Director of Partnerships at the Chicago Public Schools, and previously in Corporate Development at the Tribune Company.

Adam Arents, Program Officer at the IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation

Adam began his career as a project manager for Chicago Public Schools before teaching English on a Fulbright grant in Russia and then working on new digital strategies at Rotary International. He’s been supporting education and youth development across the Chicago area as our Program Officer since 2016.

Andrea Brewster, Employee Engagement Manager at the IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation

Andrea connects IMC Chicago employees to local non-profits through giving and volunteer opportunities. Before joining the IMC Foundation, she spent almost ten years in the non-profit industry supporting youth programming, particularly social and emotional learning for elementary school students and post-secondary success for high school students.

Global giving

Our primary global charity partner is Room to Read. Learn more about IMC’s support for their literacy programs in Tanzania and South Africa.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, we’ve funded both local and global responses to the crisis. Internationally, IMC has made donations to:

BrazilFoundation, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Doctors Without Borders, Give2Asia, GiveDirectly, Global Giving, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Partners in Health, and UNICEF

Local giving

Improving the school experience for students

To help improve educational outcomes for Chicago students, we’ve funded organizations such as Healthy Schools Campaign, Kids First Chicago and Advance Illinois. We’re especially interested in working with organizations that have strong links with Chicago Public Schools leadership. Grants are generally awarded in May through August of each year.

See a list of grantees and eligibility criteria (pdf).

Experiential learning/sports-based youth development

We help young people expand their horizons by practicing leadership, developing social and emotional skills and participating in sports. Our partners in this area include Urban Initiatives, Embarc and Northwestern University Settlement, all of which have received contributions of more than $1 million. Grants are generally awarded in January through April of each year.

See a list of grantees and eligibility criteria (pdf).

Strengthening early childhood development

Early childhood is an area where we can make a huge positive difference, which is why we partner with organizations that demonstrate strong leadership and high-quality research-based practices. A smaller portion of our funding goes toward advocacy and system-level work. Grants are generally awarded in September through December of each year.

See a list of grantees and eligibility criteria (pdf).


We’ve recently been supporting medical relief and basic needs related to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as helping schools recover and meet their students’ needs

See a list of grantees and eligibility criteria (pdf).

Employee giving

IMCers care about the communities where they live and work: they help out by running races for charity, hosting student groups at our offices, participating on nonprofit boards, and donating generously to the causes they care about.

We’re proud to make space for our people to make a difference. Here’s how we maximize their generosity:

  • Volunteer time off: Each employee receives one full day off each year to volunteer in the community.
  • Volunteer rewards: When IMCers volunteer, we match their efforts with a $20 donation for each hour they serve (up to $2,000 per person per year).
  • Effort matching: When an employee signs up to complete a race for a nonprofit, we’ll donate toward their fundraising campaign in honor of their efforts to support a great cause.
  • Financial matching: When IMCers donate to a nonprofit organization, we’ll match up to $7,000 per employee per year. We’ve run special double-match campaigns for issues like Covid-19 relief and racial justice work.

Photo credits:

  • CorkeryField_Playground: Space to Grow
  • CorkeryField_Students: Space to Grow
  • Corkery students planting: Space to Grow
  • Student writing: Room to Read
  • New Life ribbon cutting: New Life Centers