The Spirit of Giving

Julie Chernoff, Laura Hine, Helena Kontos, Andrea Mills, Sarah Ryan, Jessie Sardina, | October 31, 2016 | Feature Features National

If charity starts at home, we are all lucky to live here. Few cities have as robust a philanthropic community as the one in Chicago, which has thousands of individuals working to improve the lives of millions. Meet some of the top Chicago philanthropists and organizations that make this city—and the world—a better place.
CLASS ACT “Everyone deserves a great education,” says Liam Krehbiel, head of A Better Chicago.

A Better Chicago
Liam Krehbiel starts at the beginning.

An entrepreneurial streak runs through the heart of the Krehbiel family, a line traced for four generations from the founding of the Molex manufacturing firm in 1938 through the expansion and eventual sale in 2013 of the publicly held company. But scion Liam Krehbiel, now living in Lincoln Park with wife Karen, a family law partner at Berger Schatz, and their two children, wanted to make his own mark.

After a stint at consulting giant Bain & Company, Krehbiel yearned to be back in the social sector. He identified a gap in Chicago’s nonprofit landscape, and in 2010, his visionary venture philanthropy fund, A Better Chicago, was born, focusing squarely on education.

Modeled after New York’s Robin Hood foundation, A Better Chicago connects donors—individuals, families and corporations—with vetted, highly effective educational nonprofits. “We are grounded in two beliefs,” says Krehbiel. “Everyone deserves a great education, and high-impact philanthropy can accelerate the change we all want to see in our world.” It is greatly improving educational outcomes for metropolitan Chicago’s low-income youth by scaling what works.
“A lot of people are down on our city; I point to the violence, inequality and fiscal challenges,” says Krehbiel, who insists we shouldn’t just give up. “Our responsibility and our challenge is that we need more Chicagoans to get engaged—as advocates, donors and volunteers—if we are going to solve our problems. The only way we’ll fail is if we don’t try.”


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