Featured Grantees

While The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust values all of its grantees equally, The Trust features this year the following organizations that submitted exemplary grant applications.

Each of the grantees featured here successfully and convincingly established a strong connection to one or more tenets of The Trust's Values Statement, achieved or exceeded its goals, and had a positive and significant impact on the community it serves.

The Trust (identified below as "EMT") features one exemplary grantee for each tenet of its Values Statements, along with two organizations that The Trust supported jointly with its sister trust, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust (identified below as "EMGT").

The Trust's Value Statements

Tenet 1

Promoting "THISS"

Promoting, instilling, and/or reflecting the values of individual and/or organizational thrift, humility, industry, self-sacrifice, and/or self-sufficiency.

Chicago Children's Choir

Purpose of grant

Problem being addressed:  Following a strategic planning process led by staff and consulting firm, CCC identified the need to expand its services throughout Chicago; however, CCC does not have the financial capacity to implement and sustain program growth at the rate necessary to achieve the strategic plan.

Project description:  To address the challenge, CCC has chosen to pursue a $12M comprehensive campaign.  To reach $12M, CCC will pursue the two-fold goal of growing CCC’s annual fundraising efforts to $7M over three fiscal years and raising $5M specifically for CCC’s strategic priorities that include:  expansion of choral programs; artistic initiatives funds; and fund for the future.

Connection to Values:  From its development to its implementation, CCC’s campaign efforts align with The Trust’s first priority to “reflect the values of organizational thrift, humility, industry, self-sacrifice and/or self-sufficiency.”  With the grounding of research conducted by the consulting firm and the unanimous support of the Board of Directors, CCC exemplified organizational industry in choosing to pursue a campaign that will power CCC’s programmatic and financial growth.  Within the silent phase, CCC has followed the campaign plan set forth by the consulting firm, which is rooted in “relationship-based, donor-centered fundraising,” a model which requires institutional humility in foregrounding the needs of the donor before those of the organization.  By following the consulting firm’s recommendation to pursue a $12M comprehensive campaign that includes growth in annual fundraising, CCC’s campaign efforts will allow CCC to create the infrastructure necessary to sustain the program growth achieved during the course of the campaign.  Specifically, to meet CCC’s campaign goal of $7M in annual fundraising over three years, CCC will have to increase the support of its current donors and secure new donors.  By actively pursuing these objectives during, rather than after CCC’s campaign, CCC will create a self-sufficient fundraising model that will continue once the campaign ends.

Finally, by undertaking the campaign, CCC will diversify its funding base, thus becoming less reliant on a small set of donors; this diversification promotes financial thrift and efficiency and overall organizational self-sufficiency.

Amount of grant


Tenet 2

Relieving Human Suffering

Relieving human suffering by: (1) performing research and/or promoting education regarding the treatment of disease; (2) assisting youth who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, have troubled childhoods, have physical or mental disabilities, or experience emotional disorders; (3) addressing the concerns of the elderly; and/or (4) providing succor to humankind during time of natural or human-made disaster.

Alzheimer's Association, Illinois Chapter

Purpose of grant

Problem being addressed:  Alzheimer’s disease affects people in every community—there are no boundaries with respect to gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or culture.  Researchers have found evidence, however, of disparity between Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers who are ethnically and racially diverse and those who are not, especially with respect to how they view the condition and the treatment and information they receive.  For example, one disparity seen among some cultural groups is that they view dementia-related symptoms simply as part of the natural aging process, rather than a serious medical condition.  This misperception may lead individuals from diverse communities to overlook behavioral and cognitive symptoms of dementia and, thus, become less likely to seek medical care.  Researchers also found that racially and ethnically diverse groups tend to experience certain barriers to treatment, including possessing less knowledge about dementia and access to health services.  Lack of knowledge and information about Alzheimer’s significantly limits opportunities for care that meets the needs of caregivers and recipients.

Project description:  AA has received calls from individuals representing many ethnic and racial groups that seek information, educational programming, and support services.  To meet their unique needs, AA must be able to provide education and outreach in a manner that offers solutions tailored to these groups’ ethnic, cultural, and personal needs.  However, the amount of resources needed to provide direct delivery of the support that diverse audiences are seeking would be astronomical, making it economically infeasible and unrealistic to consider.  Through the Cultural Partnership Program, AA will form strong, collaborative partnerships with trusted organizations working within diverse communities to provide the latest information about, and support for, Alzheimer’s disease, while also engaging these same communities in the fight against Alzheimer’s.  For this project, AA will cultivate relationships with local affiliates of the association’s national priority audiences—African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.

Connection to Values:  By providing education and outreach in a manner that offers solutions tailored to key partners’ ethnic, cultural, and personal needs and, further, that improves care for people age 65 or older with dementia, AA relieves human suffering through scientific research and education regarding disease and by addressing the concerns of the elderly.  Furthermore, through partnerships with community–based organizations, AA will help them identify their most immediate dementia-related concerns and empower key partners to develop and deliver initiatives in their community, in their language, and in a culturally relevant context, thereby encouraging the principles of individual self-sufficiency and industry, thus also connecting to Tenet 1.

Amount of grant


Tenet 3

Developing Individual Self-Esteem and Dignity

Developing within individuals, especially youth from under-served and/or under-resourced communities, a sense of self-esteem and dignity.

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Inc.

Purpose of grant

Problem being addressed:  Students from economically disadvantaged communities attending Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”) have limited access to the arts.  Similarly, a dearth of professional development programs for successful integration of dance, theater, or music in general curricula discourages CPS teachers from connecting meaningful arts experiences to academic goals for their students. 

Project description:  AT partnered with the Academy for Urban School Leadership to develop the ArtsXChange initiative—a professional development program providing CPS educators in at-risk schools with valuable methodology for teaching arts education to their students, who come from underserved communities.  Classroom teachers are paired with a teaching artist mentor for a school year to enhance teacher practice in creating meaningful and engaging arts-based learning experiences in alignment with Common Core curriculum.  By using the arts as a means of educating and inspiring diverse learners, genuine connections can be made between academic learning and artistic concepts.

Connection to Values:  Teachers experience increased levels of self-esteem and dignity by taking ownership of a newly integrated teaching practice through ArtsXChange.

Amount of grant


Tenet 4

Encouraging Vigorous Athletic Activity

Encouraging vigorous athletic activity, leading to physical health and/or spiritual well-being.

Recovery on Water

Purpose of grant

Problem being addressed:  The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately twelve percent of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.  In Chicago alone, nearly 140 per 100,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually.  In order to treat the disease, patients undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the three.  These treatments often are accompanied with complications including lymphedema, obesity, depression, and poor quality of life.  Many studies demonstrate that regular exercise significantly reduces these complications and reduces recurrence in patients who receive treatment by up to fifty percent.  Moreover, oncologists recommend exercise for their patients to maintain a healthy weight, boost confidence, and increase quality of life.  Unfortunately, there are few reduced cost and scholarship-based exercise programs for breast cancer survivors in Chicago, and those that do fail to offer a team setting for support.  Given the cost of treatment and the financial toll this disease takes on survivors and their families, an expensive exercise program is not usually a priority over other expenses.

Project description:  Rowing is a beneficial form of exercise due to its low-impact nature, enabling rowers to continue rowing into their 70’s and 80’s. Further, it provides a full body workout while protecting the upper trunk area.  Six days a week, year round, ROW provides reduced cost and scholarship-based exercise programs for both breast cancer patients currently receiving treatment and survivors.  ROW also provides participants the opportunity to interact and gain support from fellow survivors and patients.  During the spring, summer, and fall, programming involves using rowing shells on the south branch of the Chicago River, and, in the winter, participants train indoors on rowing machines. 

For each participant, programming costs $100 per month.  The scholarship program seeks to enable any participant with limited income or other financial resources to join ROW.  Those seeking scholarship support are asked to submit a formal request explaining why they are good candidates for support and demonstrating their need.  Applicants must reapply each year for scholarship funds.  Fifty-two percent of current team members request scholarships.

Connection to Values:  Through participation in ROW, breast cancer patients and survivors become strong in mind and body, empowered to trust their ability to work hard and grow strong.  The combination of highly trained staff and a safe, supportive environment make ROW the perfect place for patients and survivors to improve their physical health and spiritual well-being through vigorous athletic activity.

Amount of grant


Tenet 5

Developing Regional Solutions to Chicago's Regional Challenges

Developing regional solutions to Chicago’s regional challenges, thereby protecting and/or improving the quality of life for all its citizens.

Grant Park Music Festival

Purpose of grant

Problem being addressed:  Audiences that typically attend classical music performances are perceived as older, well-educated, and only from affluent communities.  This incorrect perception, along with economic constraints, lack of familiarity, and other issues create obstacles that prevent many of the Chicago region’s diverse citizens from experiencing the enriching qualities of culture and the arts, which are central to the quality of life for all living in the Chicago region.

Project description: As the nation’s only free outdoor summer classical music series dedicated to producing symphonic concerts of the highest artistic caliber and providing lifelong learning opportunities for audiences of all ages,  GPMF reaches more than 800,000 people annually through admission-free concerts, education and community engagement programs, and radio broadcasts.  Performances in Millennium Park connect people of all backgrounds to symphonic music.  For its 82nd season, GPMF premiered Hector Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust—featuring four distinguished soloists, a seven-part chorus, a large children’s chorus, and orchestraheld on the Festival’s closing weekend, August 19-20.  The score had not been performed at GPMF since 2003, prior to the Festival’s move to Millennium Park; the work was last seen in Chicago in a fully staged version at Lyric Opera in 2010.  Two performances of The Damnation of Faust attracted more than 20,000 audience members, many from diverse backgrounds and neighborhoods, to Millennium Park.

Connection to Values:  By allowing all individuals—regardless of socioeconomic background—the opportunity to appreciate classical music, and by increasing audience diversity and size, GPMF develops regional solutions to Chicago’s regional challenges by providing free and accessible classical music for all its citizens.

Amount of grant


Joint Grantees

Tenet 1

Promoting "THISS"

Chicago History Museum

Purpose of grant

Problem being addressed:  Following the outcome of a two-year, long-range planning process where Chicago History Museum (“CHM”) hired a major gifts officer to execute its capital campaign, CHM developed strategic and master plans to begin a new chapter guiding the museum’s activities for the next twenty-five years and beyond.  The plans proposed:  new program and exhibition initiatives; strategic building renovations; and strengthening of CHM’s endowment.  Thus, CHM formally called for a major campaign to raise $40-50 million dollars.  To raise these funds, CHM determined that its board of trustees needed to play an increased role in leading the museum’s fundraising initiatives.

Project description: The “This is Chicago” campaign will be conducted through the year 2020 and address three strategic priorities:  expand civic-based education using Chicago history as a way to build knowledge and intellectual skills; enhance CHM’s visibility; attract a diverse audience; and sustain CHM’s financial foundation.  The campaign will address these priorities by taking specific actions, including:  creation of a new school outreach program; presentation of a new film experience and interactive displays in its galleries; expansion of the museum’s footprint in Lincoln Park by creating an outdoor history experience; improvement of storage and access to the museum’s collections; and a substantial bolstering of the museum’s endowment and cash reserves.  CHM designed these tasks to create a higher level of service to Chicago and make the museum a leader in innovation.  To encourage full board participation, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust and Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust made the award subject to a challenge grant requiring matching board members’ contributions as a way to assist CHM in meeting its fundraising goals.

Connection to Values:  By conducting a capital campaign in which its board of trustees would play a leading, decisive role, CHM is increasing the capacity and stability of the museum, thereby encouraging the values of organizational self-sufficiency, thrift, and industry.

Amount of grant


Tenet 1

Promoting "THISS"

Ingenuity Incorporated Chicago

Purpose of grant

Problem being addressed:  To address the inconsistency of quality and availability of arts education across the Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”) system, funders and civic leaders formed the Chicago Arts Education Collaborative (“CAEC”) in 2008, to:  track data and conduct research; advocate for arts education; and provide resources.  However, CAEC lacked capacity to operate efficiently a fundraising campaign that would allow it to carry out its mission, including addressing the inconsistency of arts education across the CPS system.

Project description:  In 2009, CAEC launched the Chicago Arts Learning Initiative (“CALI”), a community-wide effort, which brought together arts and cultural organizations, CPS and its Office of Arts Education, and funders. CALI recommended the creation of a public/private partnership that would:  research reliable benchmarks and data on the availability of arts education; organize advocacy efforts; and fundraise to build capacity for arts education in all Chicago Public Schools.  Established in 2011, and growing out of CALI’s recommendations, Ingenuity Incorporated (“II”) launched the Creative Schools Initiative‒an ambitious new effort to help every CPS student receive a well-rounded education that includes the arts.  

To fund the Creative Schools Initiative and bring arts education to all CPS students, II created the Creative Schools Campaign (“CSC”) in an effort to raise $38 million over three years for:  development of curricula, assessments, and professional training; construction of a sustainable arts education infrastructure; long-term policy strategy; placement of a CPS arts liaison in every school; use of data and information to plan more effectively; and expansion of the pool of financial resources to help schools bring the arts to more students throughout their school years.  Being a newly formed organization with modest capacity, II partnered with civic leaders, a funding consultant, and CPS to form a campaign committee, set fundraising goals, and monitor fundraising progress.

Connection to Values:  By retaining the services of a fundraising consultant to launch and lead the CSC, II is building its own capacity and that of arts education for CPS, thereby encouraging organizational thrift, industry, and self-sufficiency.

Amount of grant


The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust

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