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Channing Lenert

Program Officer | Polk Bros. Foundation

"My long-term vision for Chicago is that residents from all 77 communities will enjoy equal access to opportunities to thrive and realize their greatest aspirations. I’ll seek to contribute to this vision through philanthropy and a grantmaking philosophy centered around equity."


Undergraduate Degree: California State University Channel Islands, '11

Fun fact: I consider myself an amateur presidential historian.

Channing recently became a Program Officer at Polk Bros. Foundation, a private independent foundation dedicated to building and strengthening Chicago's families and communities, especially those most affected by poverty. Within his new role, Channing reviews proposals and makes funding recommendations for organizations primarily within the Foundation’s Strong Communities grantmaking, including grants that support the creation and preservation of affordable housing, homelessness prevention and intervention, workforce and community economic development, community safety, and legal services.

Prior to the Foundation, as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Channing served on Navy Pier’s resource development team. His responsibilities at the Pier included developing grantseeking strategies to support the new nonprofit’s public programming and security infrastructure. Prior to the Pier, Channing spent years working on the program and development teams at Working in the Schools (WITS), an organization focused on literacy outcomes for CPS students. Channing began his career as an AmeriCorps and Senior AmeriCorps Member with City Year Chicago, where he mentored and tutored students in North Lawndale and mobilized large-scale community volunteer projects. He currently serves as Chair of City Year Chicago’s Alumni Board.

Channing is a current IMPACT Fellow of the Chicago Urban League and University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is a member of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and Chicago’s 46th Ward Democratic Committee.

Channing graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from California State University Channel Islands and an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Chicago’s Spertus Institute.