About the Fund

Our Mission

The Alvin H. Baum Family Fund strives to better the lives of those who live and work predominantly in the Chicagoland area. Through innovative grants and collaborations, the Fund helps ignite new ideas and promote solutions to ensure healthier, more equitable, and peaceful communities.

Our History

Alvin H. Baum was born on March 18, 1901. He operated a very successful investment firm in Chicago and passed away in 1982. A lifelong philanthropist and longtime resident of Highland Park, IL, Alvin married Ann in 1964. Ann Baum was born November 11, 1922, into a poor Irish Catholic family and grew up with seven siblings. She passed away in 2005.

Ann and Alvin were compassionate individuals who supported a broad array of charities as well as provided direct support to needy and deserving individuals. Their giving included the disadvantaged, the young, the elderly, religious organizations, educational organizations, and civic organizations.

The Baum Fund hired its first staff member, Executive Director Erika Cornelisen, in 2015. Under Erika’s leadership, the fund deepened relationships with grantees, joined funder collaboratives, and increased its visibility in the field. Erika passed away in 2021.

Message from Joel M. Friedman, President

People mattered to Alvin and Ann Baum. Their personal connections and relationships led to a variety of philanthropic interests. Honesty and the adage “say what you mean and do what you say” were paramount to Alvin and Ann.

Today, the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund celebrates their legacy through a willingness to take risks and seize opportunities, making authentic connections, and responding to urgent community needs — including, recently, pandemic relief and support of organizations working in social justice.

We create leverage of both funds and non-financial resources and recognize organizational development and capacity building are essential for our sector’s health.

Together with our grantees and community partners, the Fund endeavors to better understand and address the causes rather than the symptoms of society’s most wicked challenges.