Hellenic Foundation Awards $350,000 in Grants in 2018

Hellenic Foundation

Through their grant program, Hellenic Foundation has awarded more than $800,000 over the past three years. Meet the recipients and learn more.

Hellenic Foundation Grant Program

Back in 2016, we told you about the Hellenic Foundation Grant Program, an extraordinary initiative which has benefited many area non-profit organizations that promote Hellenism and Orthodoxy, or directly serve the local Greek Orthodox population. The program, established in 2015, was the realization of a long-held goal of Hellenic Foundation’s Board of Directors. Funded through the interest on investments made following the sale of the Hollywood House, the retirement community formerly owned by Hellenic Foundation (HF), the program is allowing them to assist many more people, in all corners of the community.

Related: Hellenic Foundation Expands Services, Offers Grants

HF Executive Director Peter E. Valessares spoke about the value of the program and its reach.

“Grant awards provide the resources and support to foster success. The guidelines and procedures of the Grant Program have afforded the opportunity for the Hellenic Foundation to establish collaborative relationships with foundations and organizations with similar missions and goals. The success of these working relationships will encourage other likeminded organizations to join our efforts. With the knowledge that the necessary financial support is available, exciting programs focused on the needs of the Greek and Orthodox community of the Chicagoland area have been and will continue to be developed.”

 In just three years since the important program’s inception, more than $800,000 has been awarded to facilitate and fund many worthwhile community programs.

2018 Grant recipients

Let’s meet the worthy 2018 grant recipients.

  • Daughters of Penelope – 13th District Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

This foundation was organized exclusively for supporting educational purposes. The grant award will allow them to fund three scholarships in the name of Hellenic Foundation/Daughters of Penelope, for students of Hellenic Heritage or Orthodox Christian affiliation who reside in the Chicagoland area. This is in addition to the ten scholarships they award each year.

Hellenic Foundation Executive Director Peter E. Valessares introduced the grant recipients at the organization's annual meeting in December.
Hellenic Foundation Executive Director Peter E. Valessares introduced the grant recipients at the organization’s annual meeting in December. IMAGE: MARIA A. KARAMITSOS

Heartland Housing Foundation is more than just a service provider. They’ve become a resourceful community leader, finding creative solutions to complex social challenges.

Each year, HF receives 4-5 requests from senior members of Chicago’s Greek community who wish to reside at Hollywood House but are unable to meet the minimum debt-to-income ratio. The grant will subsidize the rent requirement on a case-by-case basis and its usage will be used to cover the income gap between tenant income and minimum debt-to-income ratio; and subsidy amounts will be provided based on the gap covered with a maximum yearly participant assistance amount of $5,000.


Hel.LAS is a pro bono clinic created to address the needs of low-income members of the Greek community of Chicago. It meets monthly to provide access to legal information, referrals, and potential representation in a linguistically and culturally sensitive environment. Their goal is to ensure that everyone in need has legal representation. To date, Hel.LAS has assisted more than 140 families.

The 2018 Grant Award will allow Hel.LAS to provide to volunteer attorneys proper training and resources in immigration law, as well as other areas, in order to properly serve their clientele. In many cases, clients are indigent and unable to pay filing fees associated with legal matters, most notably the significant filing fee associated with the Department of Homeland Security applications. The grant will allow assistance in this area and will support the maintenance of their website, and compensate their volunteer coordinator.

Related: Hel.LAS: Hellenic Legal Assistance Services

This scientific and cultural organization based in Chicago seeks to foster and promote cooperation and fellowship among professionals residing in Greece and America, and to preserve and enrich the Hellenic Heritage of its members and the Hellenic community. It promotes lectures, symposia, conferences, theatrical plays, and more. The group also offers scholarships to Greek-American students.

This year’s grant will fund two scholarships for deserving students of Hellenic descent that reside in the Midwest who have attained academic excellence and have financial need. It will also fund two lectures.

  • Illumident, Inc.

Illumident’s objective is to inform, educate, and aid the aging population so that they may live free of dental pain or discomfort and they may enjoy interpersonal relationships with a positive self-image. They demonstrate and explain the necessity of home care, detection, and prevention. Their objective is to ensure seniors avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions, understand the importance of nutrition and the metabolism and clearance of medications, and provides options for affordable dental care.

The grant will allow the organization to give presentations to church groups, Hollywood House, and Greek American Rehabilitation and Care Centre (GARCC), in which they provide valuable information as well as dental supplies.

Founded in 1931, NHIBT’s mission is to promote, support, and preserve Hellenism through competition and fellowship. Its goal is to provide for all ages, a forum for Greek Orthodox Americans to convene, cultivate, and nurture personal and professional relationships locally and across the nation. It hosts 30-40 national teams, ranging from 8 years old to adult, in the Chicagoland area.

This award will provide funding to support the expansion of the NHIBT program through additional gymnasium time for practice and games; apparel and gear for young participants; additional teams; and support local teams to travel to tournaments.

Hellenic Link Midwest logo
Hellenic Link-Midwest is a recipient of a 2018 Hellenic Foundation grant.

Founded in 1983, the National Hellenic Museum’s mission is to share the legacy of Hellenism and to preserve the stories and honor the contributions to the U.S. of Greek immigrants and Americans of Greek heritage.

This funding will provide free transportation and programming, both on- and off-site, to Pan-Orthodox schools, Sunday schools, youth groups, and adult/senior groups within the Chicagoland area. The hope is to reach a larger Pan-Orthodox audience, through a broad-reaching marketing approach, within a focused geographical area – with priority given to communities within a 20-mile radius, then expanded to those within a 100-mile range.

The CrossRoad Summer Institute, a program of the Office of Vocation & Ministry (OVM) at Hellenic College/Holy Cross (HC/HC), is a 10-day summer program for Orthodox Christian high school juniors and seniors across North America. In 2003, HC/HC became one of 88 religiously affiliated colleges and universities to receive a 5-year, $2 million Lily Endowment grant to explore their own traditions’ understanding of vocation by piloting programs to help students relate their faith and vocation. Since its inception. OVMF has offered Orthodox Christian youth and young adults the opportunity to engage their faith, discover their vocation, and develop their capacity for leadership. The programs have attracted a strong donor base in the Orthodox Church community because of the impact that OVMF has on the lives of young people in promoting a healthy, life-giving love for the Orthodox Faith and developing leadership capacity in young people.

The OVM currently hosts two, 10-day sessions of CrossRoad at HC/HC for 32 students each session. For the second year, the CrossRoad Summer Institute will host a third session in Chicago due to the generosity of the Hellenic Foundation Chicago, at North Park University (July 23-August 2). This will allow a total of 96 students to experience the life-changing program, and will make the program more accessible to high school students in the Midwest and Chicagoland. This pilot may lead to the program’s expansion in the other areas.

National Hellenic Museum NHM logo
National Hellenic Museum received a grant for its Pan-Orthodox Field Trip and Tour Program.

OVMF unites generosity and vision to sustain and expand the initiatives of OVM at HC/HC. Directors and officers have pledged $275,000 for the first year of this new project, with future giving and fundraising to be determined. In 2016, OVM received a $1.5 million grant from the Lily Endowment for the Telos Project, piloted in 14 parishes around the country, including St. George in Chicago. Now in its second year, OVMF is designing an educational model that asks small teams at each parish to build relationships with young adults, and using a process of adaptive design, pilot a new ministry for and with them, to mirror the best Orthodox missionary ethos.

Building directly on the learning from the Telos Project, and especially from the pilot at St. George, the TelosGamma project seeks to nurture the spiritual and religious lives of young adults in Chicagoland through CrossRoad alumni and their parishes. To do this, they’ll reach out to CrossRoad alumni, under the guidance of parish priests, to lead the effort. OVMF hopes this will nurture the leadership capacity of CrossRoad alumni and help them to become an effective cohort of leaders on the local level who have the skills to step into leadership roles in the Church in the future.


Established in 1998 by the late Chris P. Tomaras, the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation’s (PHSF) goal is the “Build a Better American through Education and Hellenism”. PHSF awards $250,000 in scholarships annually to college students of Hellenic descent. Of the awards, 20 are presented based on academic achievement and financial need, while 20 more are awarded solely based on academic achievement.

The 2018 grant will provide an HF scholarship for a recipient residing in the Chicagoland area demonstrating financial need.


Related: PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation Gala: BEYOND A SCHOLARSHIP

Random Acts of Flowers (RAF) improves the emotional well-being of individuals in healthcare facilities by delivering recycled flowers, encouragement, and personal moments of kindness. The first “Random Act of Flowers” was made by founder Larsen Jay, as he repurposed flowers given to him and delivered them from his wheelchair. Inspired by the reaction to the gesture, he founded the organization in 2008. There are now five branches: Knoxville, TN; Tampa, FL; Chicago; Silicon Valley, CA; and Indianapolis, IN. Since its inception. RAF has served nearly 62,000 people in 190 healthcare facilities, recycled 56,000 vases, partnered with 90 floral donors, and is supported by more than 300 committed volunteers.

The grant provided for one delivery each of bouquets to GARCC and to HF for its in-home care clients, during the 2018 Christmas season. It also provided one delivery of bouquets to residents of Hollywood House with Christmas carols performed by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, during the 2018 Christmas season. It will also provide for a floral arranging activity at GARCC; and one for the residents of Hollywood House during the 2019 Easter Season; plus, flower bouquets will be delivered to GARCC for Panagias 2019.

seal of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago is a recipient of 2018 Hellenic Foundation Grant Award.


  • St. Iakovos Retreat Center

The St. Iakovos Retreat Center is a 137-acre property in Kansasville, WI that can house up to 200 people in both communal and individual lodging accommodations. Its purpose is to be a place of rejuvenation where people can gather in fun and fellowship to grow in faith. It’s the current location of Fanari Camp.

The 2018 grant will fund the installation of a sand volleyball court for the hundreds of youth that attend Fanari Camp each year. It’s but one of the activity fields and courts planned for the property.

Midwest Hellenic Dance Festival (MHDF) was initiated in 2016 by the late Metropolitan Iakovos and Father Tilemahos Alikakos of St. Spyridon Church. It’s dedicated to promoting, preserving, and perpetuating the traditional Greek dances and music of our Hellenic Heritage by inspiring Greek Orthodox youth and young adults through dance, music, and fellowship. Due to increasing popularity of MHDF, it must move to larger facilities. The grant will support efforts to expand the festival in its new location.

 Related: Midwest Hellenic Dance Festival: Inspiring Love for Greek Dance

Over the next five years, The Metropolis of Chicago will invest in its people, parishes, and ministries through a systematic and incremental program of development in all areas. The Metropolis hopes to expand the impact and reach of its ministry through a two-pronged approach. Ministry Renewal including assessment of current programs; expansion of Metropolis staff, underwriting youth and young adult ministries, parish-based grants, and development of new programs. The second area is Clergy Development, including continuing education, new clergy mentoring, seminarian formation, and self-care support for clergy.

The HF grant will support the Metropolis’ efforts to create the new position of Executive Director.

2018 Grant awards

This year’s grant awards were presented at Hellenic Foundation’s Annual Meeting in mid-December. We salute this year’s recipients and applaud the Hellenic Foundation for this incredible program. 2019 applications will soon be available. Click here for information.

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