a foundation for chicago families  
Where we've been
The history and heritage of the Polk Bros. Foundation


Polk Bros Today

Where we've been

The Polk Bros. Foundation exists today due to the success of the Polk Bros. chain of retail furniture and appliance stores, a Chicago institution for more than 55 years. While the stores prospered and grew, Sol, Samuel, Harry, Morris and David Polk and their sister Goldie Bachmann remained supportive of the people and neighborhoods they served. Their tradition of local charitable giving evolved into today's Polk Bros. Foundation, which in 1988 became a staffed organization independent from the retail business. The Foundation's endowment increased dramatically when the stores closed in 1992 and all assets were transferred to the Foundation. Although a private independent organization, the Foundation maintains Polk family connections. In 1993, Sandra Guthman, daughter of Samuel Polk, left her career as an IBM executive to serve as the Foundation's president and chief executive officer. Two additional family members, Bruce Bachmann and Howard Polk, serve on the Foundation's board.

The Polk Bros. Foundation today supports organizations that provide direct services to Chicago communities of need. Grants, made for social services, education, cultural programs and health care, fund programs that have a measurable impact on underserved children, youth and families. The Foundation's assets now exceed $400 million, with more than $20 million in grants distributed each year. A dedicated board and staff of thirteen partner with grantees in seeking solutions to the most pressing issues faced by Chicago families.