What we believe
We share a belief in the inherent value of every life and in the obligation each of us has to act on that belief.
We share a commitment to care, not only downstream, at the point of treatment, but up, where policies, systems, and practices shape health outcomes.
We share a culture of collaboration, curiosity, experimentation, openness, and persistence.
Our long-term goal is widespread improvement in the health—physical, mental, and social—of our community, the kind of improvement that can not only sustain itself but grow, generation after generation.
To achieve it, we know that it’s not enough to shore up the healthcare system we have with a series of add-on, ad hoc programs.
We must create a new system, one in which the fundamental building blocks of health—housing, living-wage work, social and economic opportunity, personal safety, education—are a given for every one of us. And we must build a new hospital, one without walls, where comprehensive, integrated health care is available to everyone who needs it in every place that need can best be met.
We believe that working together, we can accomplish that goal.
Harvey J. Barnett
Walter R. Nathan
Executive Vice Chairman
Mally Z. Rutkoff
Vice Chair, Grants
Michael B. Tarnoff
Ellard Pfaelzer, Jr.
Gayla Brockman, MS
President and CEO
John F. Benjamin
Andrew K. Block
David T. Brown
Laurie Hochberg, MD
Gregory C. Mayer
Sergio H. Rodriguez, MD
Michelle R. B. Saddler
Judy L. Smith
Herbert S. Wander
Michael H. Zaransky
In every community and in every generation, there are those who see injustice, misfortune, or suffering and act to relieve it.
The story of Michael Reese is the story of these extraordinary people and how their actions change our lives and the world in which we live.
Our philanthropic partners include those who directly support the work of Michael Reese and those whose gifts to Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center were transferred to the foundation when the hospital was closed.
The Legacy Fund was created by and for people connected to Michael Reese Hospital through birth, family, education, career, and community ties. It honors the hospital’s remarkable, enduring spirit and its many decades of accomplishments. Today, Legacy Fund members keep the Michael Reese spirit alive while making future accomplishments possible through the Legacy Fund, which supports the foundation’s programs and priorities.
- Anonymous in Memory of Alan Rutkoff
- Jill and John Baldwin
- Harvey and Jacqueline Barnett
- Esther and John Benjamin
- Andrew K. Block
- Gayla Brockman and Marshall Pred
- Gregory C. Mayer in Honor of Frank D. Mayer, Jr.
- Robert R. Nathan in Memory of Lionel Nathan
- Lorna and Ellard Pfaelzer Jr.
- Sergio H. Rodriguez, MD
- Mally and Alan z”l Rutkoff
- Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Eileen Tarnoff
- The Wander / Freedman / Sorkin Family
- The Yablon / Seidman Family
Herbert S. Wander Fund
The Herbert S. Wander Fund was established by the Michael Reese Board of Directors to recognize the steadfast leadership of Herbert S. Wander, who served as Board Chairman between 2006 and 2017. Since then, others have joined us to honor outstanding commitment to volunteer leadership and philanthropy through their support of the Herbert S. Wander Fund.
- Jill and John Baldwin
- Judy and Ed Bederman
- Freedman Wander Family Foundation
Gifts in Memory
We are honored to recognize additional gifts made in memory of loved ones during fiscal year 2019.
- Harvey and Jacqueline Barnett in Memory of Helen Chapman
- Harvey and Jacqueline Barnett in Memory of Joan David
- Harvey and Jacqueline Barnett in Memory of Dennis Kleper
- Gayla Brockman and Marshall Pred in Memory of Joan David
Special Funds and Perpetual Trusts
Generations of philanthropists helped build and support Michael Reese Hospital through lasting gifts to Michael Reese Hospital Foundation, Michael Reese Second Century Foundation and Michael Reese Health Plan Foundation. Today, their generosity lives on through our grantmaking. Michael Reese honors donor intent by administering funds, and as the recipient of income from trusts managed by outside financial institutions. We gratefully recognize the foresight and enduring contributions of these donors.
- Baer Fund, Otto Baer
- Harry H. and Becky R. Blum Trust, Harry H. Blum and Becky R. Blum
- Nathan and Emily S. Blum Fund, Nathan Blum
- Henry G. Foreman and Lottie S. Foreman Trust, Henry G. and Lottie S. Foreman
- Emanuel Friend Trust, Emanuel Friend
- Walter A. Gatzert Memorial Laboratory Endowment Fund for Hematology Research, Gatzert Family Foundation
- Gutknecht Fund, Judge John and Effie Ziegler Gutknecht
- Blanche S. Hartman Fund, Blanche S. Hartman
- Charles L. Hutchinson Fund, Charles Lawrence Hutchinson
- Josephson Fund, Rosette Josephson
- Emil Kirchheimer Trust, Emil Kirchheimer
- Kirchof Fund, Fred Kirchof
- Kissel Fund, Ben D. Kissel
- Kuppenheimer Fund, Albert B. Kuppenheimer
- Sol C. and Estelle S. Lazarus Charitable Foundation, Sol C. Lazarus
- Haiman Lowy Fund, Haiman Lowy
- Morris Metcoff Trust, Morris Metcoff
- Meyer Fund, Alfred C. Meyer
- Morris Fund, Sarah Morris
- Max Pam Fund, Max Pam
- Regensburg Fund, Louis H. Regensburg
- Roe Endowment, Frederick Roe and Florence McGuire Roe
- Ralph R. and Minerva Rose Trust, Ralph R. and Minerva Rose
- Rothschild Fund, Hulda B. and Maurice L. Rothschild
- Melville N. Rothschild Fund, Melville N. Rothschild
- Frank E. Rubovits Fund, anonymous and colleagues of Dr. Rubovits
- Lewis and Alice F. Schimberg Fund, Lewis and Alice F. Schimberg
- Stein Fund, Philip and Emma Stein
- Stern Fund, Alfred W. Stern
- Stone Fund, Bessie H. Stone
Michael Reese Health Trust exists to improve the health of vulnerable people in the Chicago metropolitan area. We carry forward the vision of Michael Reese Hospital’s Jewish founders and the generations of philanthropic and healthcare leadership they inspired through grant making to organizations that address the health and well-being of our community.
Michael Reese honors the Jewish legacy of Michael Reese Hospital by improving the physical, mental and social well-being of vulnerable populations; being strategic, innovative and collaborative; and conducting itself with the utmost compassion, integrity and diligence.
Michael Reese timeline
Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center—a civic and philanthropic enterprise of Chicago’s Jewish community that had served the city for 110 years—and its Michael Reese Health Plan are sold to Humana.
Michael Reese Health Trust, under the leadership of founding president Dorothy H. Gardner, is established as a private, independent conversion foundation endowed with funds from Michael Reese Hospital Foundation, Michael Reese Health Plan Foundation, and Michael Reese Second Century Foundation.
The new foundation’s values mirror those of the hospital for which it is named. Its founding board adopts the World Health Organization’s definition of health: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” For Michael Reese, supporting health will mean supporting both medical care and, in the words of the WHO constitution, improvements in “housing, sanitation, recreation, economic or working conditions and other aspects of environmental hygiene.”
In November, Michael Reese completes its first grant cycle. Funding is focused on providing care for the underserved and uninsured, children and youth, people with disabilities, the elderly, and immigrants. Given the foundation’s origins, a portion of funding is also focused on advancing the health and well-being of vulnerable Jewish populations.
Among the November grants is one to Cook County Hospital’s Crisis Intervention Project for survivors of domestic and interpersonal violence, the first of a series of commitments that continue to the present day.
Michael Reese begins funding the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group’s Chicago-Area Schweitzer Fellows Program. Each graduate student contributes a minimum of 200 hours of direct service through community-based nonprofit organizations. To date, more than 600 fellows have contributed more than 120,000 hours.
The foundation conducts its first community assessment to gather information on target populations and their most critical health needs.
In addition to responding to the needs of direct service providers, Michael Reese begins proactively supporting policy analysis, advocacy, organizational capacity building, and collaborative funding and partnerships, both private and public.
The foundation helps create the Chicago Center for Jewish Genetic Disorders (now Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics) to provide up-to-date information, education, screening, diagnosis, treatment, counseling, and referrals. Between 1999 and 2011 alone, Michael Reese support totals nearly $2.3 million. The center becomes a national and international resource for both individuals and institutions such as the Mayo Clinic.
Michael Reese also begins support of the University of Illinois-based Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, which is developing an innovative public health approach to treating community violence. CeaseFire (now Cure Violence) launches in the West Garfield neighborhood the following year.
Recognizing that youth are more likely to access mental health services when they are provided within schools, the foundation awards its first grant for school-based behavioral health services, a commitment that continues to the present day.
This year also marks the foundation’s first foray into changing healthcare delivery systems by supporting health policy/advocacy through a grant to the Shriver Center on Poverty Law.
To honor the centennial of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Michael Reese establishes the Fund for Innovation in Health at the Federation. The $5 million endowment is earmarked for innovative health services developed and implemented by Federation agencies. Grantees of the fund include CJE Senior Life and the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Child and Family Services, and dental services through the Holocaust Community Service Program at the ARK.
The foundation funds the pilot phase of the Chicago Housing for Health Partnership (CHHP), which provides case management and supportive housing to chronically ill homeless individuals. A critical goal is to learn whether housing will lead to improvements in mortality, quality of life, and treatment compliance, as well as decreases in costly inpatient and emergency room services. From 2003 to 2006, the foundation funds the project’s demonstration phase.
At Michael Reese’s request, the Center for Effective Philanthropy undertook a grantee perception survey of the foundation’s impact.
Gregory S. Gross, Ed.D., succeeds Dorothy Gardner as president.
Michael Reese expands funding for CeaseFire, with special emphasis on Chicago’s Southwest and Brighton Park neighborhoods. The same year, the U.S. Department of Justice releases an impact study showing “significant positive impact” from the program, including a “decline of 16 to 28 percent in the number of shootings in four of the seven program sites studied.” Even before the report’s release, other cities begin adopting the CeaseFire model.
Michael Reese introduces “core” grants, which provide long-time grantees with consistent, flexible funding over three years. The goal is to build organizational capacity to provide high-quality services.
Over the next two years, core grantees will include CommunityHealth, a provider of free and low-cost medical services; Healthy Schools Campaign; The Night Ministry, which brings services and support to adults and youth who are homeless; Shriver Center on Poverty Law; Health and Disability Advocates; and Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In May, the Journal of the American Medical Association publishes a study validating the Chicago Housing for Health Partnership’s success at improving client outcomes while reducing costs. The CHHP model begins to shape local and national policy.
PCC Wellness Center, a federally qualified health center serving the West Side and near west suburbs; Chicago Youth Programs; and AIDS Foundation of Chicago receive core grants.
The Infant Welfare Society receives core grant support to expand mental health services to children.
Researchers at the Center for Youth and Communities at the Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis University review the core grant program. The review finds that core-funded initiatives—including systems planning, technology, staff training, fundraising, and improvements in service delivery—significantly and sustainably strengthened grantee organizations.
Michael Reese begins funding the High School-Hospital Partnership at Chicago Public Schools. The partnership opens doors at local hospitals for students in Chicago Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education program, providing site visits, job shadowing, and internships. It also subsidizes out-of-pocket costs, such as textbooks, scrubs, and stethoscopes, for students participating in certification programs at community colleges.
In response to the worsening state of finances in Illinois, Michael Reese creates budget crisis mini-grants: one-time, rapid-response funding to help agencies respond to revenue shortfalls.
In May, the National Bureau of Economic Research publishes the results of two large-scale, randomized controlled trials of Becoming a Man (BAM), a program developed by Youth Guidance and funded by Michael Reese. Conducted in 2009–10 and 2013–15, the trials showed the program reduced total arrests during the intervention period by 28–35 percent, reduced violent crime arrests by 45–50 percent, improved school engagement, and increased graduation rates by 12–19 percent. Given the modest program costs, the benefit-cost ratios for BAM are from 5-to-1 up to 30-to-1 or more, based on reductions in crime alone.
Gayla Brockman, MA, is named Michael Reese president and CEO, and the foundation undertakes a year-long, board-led strategic planning process. The comprehensive, self-reflective process leads to a new consensus on strengths, opportunities, and strategic priorities.
Michael Reese, together with the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, commission an assessment of oral health in Illinois. The report’s findings—including the facts that one in five children in 2013–14 had untreated tooth decay and that from 2005 to 2015, the percentage of adults who reported not having visited the dentist in the past year grew by 10 percent—confirm oral health as a funding priority.
Michael Reese, together with Crown Family Philanthropies and Polk Bros. Foundation, supports a domestic violence/interpersonal violence needs assessment for Chicago to help refine goals and funding strategies.
In December, the foundation unveils an updated mission statement, along with a new grant making framework that identifies priorities, strategies, and expectations.
After 21 years as a private foundation, Michael Reese becomes a public charity. The change increases the foundation’s potential impact in grant making, advocacy, and partnership.
Michael Reese and Polk Bros. Foundation are recognized with a Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for their role in planning and implementing the first federally funded healthcare and housing initiative in a major U.S. metropolitan area: the Chicago and Cook County Housing for Health Strategic Plan. In 2014 Michael Reese convened 45 stakeholders—including state, county, and city representatives and leadership of the nine managed care organizations that insured Illinois Medicaid enrollees—to outline goals that would lead to improved health and healthcare cost reductions for people who experience homelessness and chronic health issues. With support from both foundations, the Center for Housing and Health (CHH) recruited lead partner agencies and launched the initiative.
A summary evaluation of the Michael Reese-Chicago Public Schools High School/Hospital Initiative finds steady increases in the number of participants who complete a job shadow or internship or earn a certification during high school—including certifications with economic value such as pharmacy technician. In addition, program participants either plan to or do enroll in college after graduation at higher rates than either Chicago Public Schools graduate overall or graduates from other Chicago Public Schools Career and Technical Education programs.
Sprawling over 48 acres on Chicago’s near South Side, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center was one of the oldest and largest hospitals in the city.
Nationally, its name was synonymous with quality and innovation in treatment, research, and training.
To the people of Chicago, the name meant something more.
Through a century of healing, it came to represent compassion, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to their families, to their changing neighborhoods, to their city, and to the idea that care should not depend on the ability to pay.
Origins and legacy
Michael Reese Hospital was created by a community of individuals who believed that the gift of human life comes with a responsibility for the welfare of every human being.
In 1878, an unexpected bequest made it possible for that community to act on its belief.
The bequest was from Michael Reese, a German Jewish immigrant who had built a fortune through ambition, hard work, thrift, and a talent for business. On his death, Reese left $200,000 in trust to his “dear sister” Henrietta Rosenfeld and to Jacob Rosenberg, married to another sister, Hannah. The money was to be distributed to such charities as “they may think fit.”
Rosenfeld and Rosenberg chose a single charity, the Hebrew Relief Association of Chicago, whose project for a three-story, 60-bed Jewish hospital had long been a priority for city’s Jewish community. The gift—a little more than $4.9 million in today’s dollars—came with just two conditions: that the hospital be named after Michael Reese and that it welcome everyone, regardless of creed or nationality.
On October 23, 1881, the new Michael Reese Hospital opened its doors. It had been built to relieve suffering—to meet the basic human need for care in times of illness or injury. Yet almost from the start, it would also help revolutionize the practice of medicine in the U.S.
The hospital had been born in an age of explosive growth in scientific theory and research, much of it taking place in European universities. Reese physicians—many of whom had trained at those universities—not only followed these developments but grasped their significance for care. With the support of hospital administrators and committed donors, doctors at Reese began using new knowledge to improve treatment, procedures, training, and even equipment. They adopted scientific methods to study health at the level of the patient and of the population, and they assessed the outcomes of each new standard of care they established.
With each decade, the Reese tradition of improving treatment through science-based innovation grew, as did the hospital’s size and reputation. At its closing, the Reese complex included 2,400 beds and 29 buildings dedicated to patient care, research, and training.
The impact of the Reese tradition was acknowledged as early as 1955, when Time magazine noted “Everybody on Chicago’s South Side—and in United States Medicine—knows what Michael Reese is: a first rate hospital center that treats countless charity cases as well as paying patients.”
Michael Reese Hospital’s contributions to medicine
- One of the first nursing schools in the U.S.
- The Hess Incubator, which added an oxygen chamber and humidity control to what had been a warming device
- The first “incubator station” in the U.S., an early neonatal unit staffed by the nation’s first cohort of specially trained neonatal nurses
- The landmark longitudinal study of premature infant development, proving that “premature” did not equal “deficient”
- The nation’s first motorized ambulance service
Proof that penicillin was effective in preventing recurrences of rheumatic fever
- The first inpatient psychiatric department
- One of the first effective vaccines against polio
- Describing the relationship between heart disease and metabolism and establishing a link between heart disease and blood cholesterol
- Design and construction of the world’s first medical linear accelerator to beam high-speed electrons at deep-seated cancers
- Pioneering development and use of the gastroscope to see inside the digestive tract
- Discovery that female sex hormones can help prevent heart attack in men
- Establishing the psychological link between emotions and certain gastrointestinal illness
- A successful intrauterine device delivering slow-release hormones to prevent pregnancy
- Identifying a genetic condition as a major risk factor for kidney stones
- Use of mediastinoscopy to look for cancer inside the chest without major exploratory surgery
- A technique for freeze-drying plasma for easy storage and transport
- Discovery that Hodgkins disease spreads along lymph nodes in certain distinct patterns
- Design and development of one of the first successful artificial shoulder implants
Sources: All Our Lives: A Centennial History of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, 1881–1981, edited by Sarah Gordon, © 1981, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, and “Michael Reese: Parsimonious Patron of the University of California,” by Charles H. Cutter, California Historical Quarterly, Vol. 42 No. 2, June 1963.
In 2018, Michael Reese Health Trust began a new chapter in its history as a philanthropic organization when it became a public charity. Today, growing numbers of individual and public donors support our work and funding initiatives.