The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The Chamber Foundation coordinates educational resources, programs, and research to advance the activities of the Chamber. Foundation initiatives allow the Chamber to collaborate with strategic partners and organizations to address key business issues, and extend the scope of our activities. These initiatives serve a diverse audience including community leaders, entrepreneurs, business executives, employees, as well as educators and students.

Currently, pillars of the Foundation include:

  • Workforce Development
  • Disability Inclusion
  • Business Education

The Foundation accepts endowments, unrestricted and restricted contributions. As a 501(c)(3) organization, contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Chicagoland Business Leadership Network

The Chicagoland Business Leadership Network (CBLN) promotes disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace, and supports businesses in their roles as employers and corporate citizens. 

View the video from the Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit in November 2015:

Visit the CBLN Website

Workforce Development

STEM Internship Program

Young adult workers are the next generation of talent. They spur innovation, fill critical skills gaps and increase workforce diversity. Meaningful early work experience helps young adults make decisions about career pathways, improves their income expectations, and increases their contribution to the economy as taxpayers.

The Foundation recently embarked on a strategic partnership with Chicago Public Schools Early College STEM Schools and CompTIA to promote youth employment. The program, in its second year, continues to place high school students in paid internships with Small Business Development Center clients.

Small businesses, which might not otherwise have been able to afford summer interns, gain enthusiastic additional resource at no cost. The students themselves earn wages and gain invaluable work experience. The Foundation plans to build on this pilot scheme to connect Chamber members with students seeking meaningful intern opportunities.

Pathways to Pipelines

Internships are an important cog in the recruiting wheel for employers, large and small.  Organizations need to develop young adult talent as the critical component of their workforce pipeline, especially as baby boomers retire and Gen X workers move into leadership positions.  According to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute of Michigan State University, employers routinely hire about 50% of the interns who work for them once they graduate.

On May 24, 2016, the Chamber Foundation hosted its first Pathways to Pipelines event that focused on how work-based learning programs and internships maximize ROI and contribute to workforce development. 

Linking educators, students and employers is key to our region’s economic recovery and global competitiveness. Finding and mentoring interns can be one of the most important things for businesses and for young adults' potential careers. Pathways to Pipelines continues to educate employers on best practices for optimizing internship experiences, guide employers toward the appropriate resources, and support the workforce pipeline. 

Click here for more information about past events. 

Research and Member Surveys


The Foundation also coordinates research, surveys and focus groups, including the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce annual member survey, the Small Business Outlook Survey and the State of Middle Market in Illinois


The Foundation was originally incorporated in 1973 as the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry Foundation. In 1998, the name was changed to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation. 

The Foundation Board

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors and staffed by an Executive Director. It is housed within the Chamber’s offices in the Wrigley Building.


Mark Anderson, Director, Technology Ecosystem & Platforms-Strategic Programs, Accenture
Patrick Beharelle, President & Chief Operations Officer, TrueBlue Outsourcing Solutions
Valerie Corr Hanserd, Director, Communications & External Affairs, BP America
Jack Lavin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Judy Martinez-Faye, Chief City of Chicago Executive, Siemens
Bernadette Patton, President & Chief Executive Officer, Human Resources Management Association of Chicago
Matthew Summy, Vice President, External & Government Affairs, Comcast, Comcast Business

Foundation Staff

Laura Wilhelm
CBLN Consultant
Phone: (312) 494 6718

Laura comes to the Chicagoland Business Leadership Network with several years of experience in disability inclusion program and policy work. Most recently, she engaged businesses nationally in their efforts to recruit, hire and retain qualified employees with disabilities. She loves to travel and has proudly visited all 50 states.