Joe Pedott knows firsthand the life-changing difference philanthropy can make in a person’s trajectory. When Pedott found himself living on his own as a teenager, he worried that his lifelong goal of a college education was slipping beyond his reach.
Fortunately, the boy who would go on to become the advertising genius behind the Chia Pet and the Clapper found a lifeline in SGA Youth & Family Services. SGA is a Chicago nonprofit that provides scholarship and educational supports to kids like Pedott—smart, full of potential and lacking the access and means to pursue a college degree.
When Pedott decided his charitable legacy would be helping kids who were living his story, he met with several community foundations across the country. It didn’t take him long to choose the Trust as his philanthropic partner.
“The Trust was big enough, strong enough, old enough and it was Chicago,” Pedott recalls. “I certainly made the right decision.”
The Trust helped Pedott establish multiple funds supporting low-income, first-generation college students. Two of the funds are endowed to benefit students at the University of Illinois (his alma mater) and SGA. Another engages the next two generations of his family in supporting Chicago-based student assistance programs, and a fourth provides flexibility to address unexpected needs in the areas of college access and completion.
Pedott estimates that his funds support about 500 students each year. With the Trust’s assistance and prudent management, he hopes to increase that number to at least 1,000 students five years from now.