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 today provides supplementary, motivation-based teaching for more than 1,000 children at 10 locations across the Netherlands, has been a real inspiration for our own charitable efforts.

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 by targeting our efforts and resources at areas where public schools lack the resources to meet the needs of the student population.

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.

IMC begins offering high school scholarships to promising 8th-grade students. These last throughout the students’ time in high school.

Our first Chicago event for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. IMC continues sponsoring this for years to come.

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


Charities supported


Donated to charity


People helped

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 working on new digital strategies at Rotary International. A Fulbright Scholar with expertise in the Russian language, 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 how we’re assisting their 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, UNICEF

Local giving

Improving the school experience for students

To help improve educational outcomes for Chicago’s most underserved populations, we’ve funded organizations such as Chicago Jesuit Academy, Kids First Chicago and Saga Innovations. We’re especially interested in working with organizations that have strong links with the public schools leadership. Grants are generally awarded in January through March of each year.

See a list of grantees and eligibility criteria.

Experiential learning/sports-based youth development

We help children from difficult backgrounds expand their horizons by developing their leadership abilities, social and emotional skills and sports participation. Our partners in this area include Urban Initiatives, Embarc and Northwestern Settlements, all of which have received contributions of more than $1 million. Grants are generally awarded in April through July of each year.

See a list of grantees and eligibility criteria.

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. ow do you findGrants are generally awarded in September through December of each year.

See a list of grantees and eligibility criteria.

Community & recovery

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.

Employee giving

IMCers are big players in their communities: as volunteers, they help out by running marathons, hosting student groups at our offices, participating on associate 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 efforts in honor of their efforts to help a great cause.
  • Financial matching: We’ll match up to $7,000 per employee per year when IMCers donate in support of a nonprofit organization. We’ve run special double match campaigns for issues like Covid-19 relief or racial justice work.

Partner with us

Grant-seekers: Our grants are by invitation only. If your nonprofit’s work in the Chicago region aligns with our criteria and you want to explore possible grant opportunities, please email us a brief description of your work (less than one page in length) at

Other funders: We welcome opportunities for collaboration on our funding priorities. Please contact us at to discuss possible funding partnerships.