Civic Involvement

9039544706_daa60009c5_zJ.B. Pritzker is an active philanthropist and civic leader. He is one of the nation’s leading supporters of expanding high-quality early learning (birth – 5) for disadvantaged children. As the Pritzker Family Foundation’s founder, he created The Children’s Initiative, which funds innovative research and programs for children in underserved communities. The Erikson Institute recognized him for this initiative with its Spirit of Erikson Institute Award. Pritzker also supported the creation of the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago, which is led by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman.

Along with the Gates, Buffett, Kaiser and Harris Foundations, the Pritzker Family Foundation is a founder of the First Five Years Fund, focusing nationwide attention and resources on comprehensive, quality early care and learning programs for children from birth to age five. The foundation is a leading supporter of Educare Centers, providing high-quality early childhood education for at-risk youth.

As chairman of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, which opened in 2009, Pritzker successfully led the campaign to build a world-class international institution in the Midwest dedicated to human and civil rights and to teaching the universal lessons of the Holocaust. Pritzker is the principal funder of the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, the most significant online source for news and commentaries regarding the international criminal tribunal created to bring to justice the perpetrators of Pol Pot-era acts of genocide.

Since the late 1990s, Mr. Pritzker has been a leading contributor to helping make Chicago a world-class city for technology companies. He helped found the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and the Illinois Venture Capital Association, the leading regional advocates for entrepreneurs and investors, respectively. He cofounded the public/private Illinois Innovation Accelerator Fund, a seed-stage fund that catalyzed a number of angel groups and other early-stage investment activities in the region. He co-founded Techstars Chicago, one of the nation’s top-ranked accelerator programs for startups; helped launch Built in Chicago, the online hub of Chicago’s digital community; and founded 1871, Chicago’s startup center. Currently, he is the chair of ChicagoNEXT, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s council on innovation and technology, where he is focused on making Chicago an even better place for Web/mobile, bioscience and clean tech companies.

Mr. Pritzker plays an active role at a number of civic institutions, including:

  • Trustee and Vice Chairman, Finance, Field Museum of Natural History
  • Trustee, Northwestern University
  • Board and Executive Committee Member, World Business Chicago
  • First Vice Chairman, Programs, Economic Club of Chicago
  • Member, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago