Former Pro Baller Israel Idonije Laces Up For His Latest Venture

Stephen Ostrowski | March 30, 2020 | People


In his nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, Israel Idonije’s presence as a charitable figure became as notable as his contributions as a workhorse defensive end (in 2007, he created iF Charities, then the Israel Idonije Foundation). But the 39-year-old’s next undertaking is big even by his standards: FBRK Impact House, a sprawling “membership-based work club” that will bring together the biggest names in Windy City philanthropy—“anchor residents” include United States Artists, Woods Fund, The Field Foundation and Chicago Library Foundation—in a tech-driven, handsomely amenitized space (think: content studio, office quarters, dedicated wellness space and more) designed by BOX Studios. Likening it to an “innovation center,” Idonije forecasts the space as cultivating the type of open communication and intellectual exchange that can help nonprofits with the big-ticket aims they have difficulty managing. “It’s about having them connected in thought and having them connected in vision,” Idonije explains. “If we’re all working to solve homelessness in the city, but we never talk, or I don’t know what you’re doing necessarily, and you don’t know what I’m doing… maybe there’s an opportunity for us to actually collaborate.” Slated to open its doors to members this month (though nonmembers are welcome to join public and ticketed events), it’s a 45,000-square-foot testament to the selfless ethos that first endeared the adopted Chicagoan to fans—football and nonfootball alike. “You’ve heard it said before: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go the distance, go all the way? Go together. Impact House is about the notion of, let’s go together so we can go further, so we can go all the way.” 200 W. Madison St.

Photography by: Frank Ishman