Our work in education began in Greater Grand Crossing, the Chicago neighborhood where founder Gary Comer grew up. The Comer Education Campus, anchored by Gary Comer Youth Center, Gary Comer College Prep, Gary Comer Middle School, and UtmostU, forms the cornerstone of our mission to improve education and the well-being of children and families on Chicago’s South Side. Recognizing that there are many factors influencing how a child learns, the campus strives to address components vital to every young person’s growth: academic support, college and career readiness, after-school enrichment, teen employment, housing and healthcare.
Our initial focus on youth education has expanded to include strategic partnerships to strengthen the community through a unique combination of workforce development and neighborhood revitalization efforts. Xchange Chicago, launched in 2023 with partners SDI Presence and P33, offers technology training and apprenticeships that lead to valuable IT careers, ensuring local talent thrives in an inclusive economy.
Our legacy in environment and education affords us a rare opportunity to confront the climate crisis through our long-time work with youth and world-class climate scientists as well as our ties to local nonprofits and environmental justice organizations. In response, we’ve helped launch Teens Take On Climate to support youth to advance climate justice through experiential learning, employment, and engagement in their communities.
As funders of climate science research since 2004, we work with and support universities and institutions across the country. We’ve joined Columbia University in an effort to increase diversity in climate sciences within Columbia, the Climate School, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The foundation’s endowment will provide summer research experiences, scholarships, staffing and programming that encourage a new generation of climate scientists.
Medill Comer Scholars is a partnership with Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Students in this intensive one-year graduate program develop the expertise needed to communicate the complex science of climate change and to command attention for environmental issues. Graduates have gone on to successful careers in environmental and science journalism, fulfilling the mission to mobilize a vital new generation of reporters.
In the pathway to science careers, the postdoctoral stage is formative, providing defining experiences while advancing scholarly research. The Comer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports 2–3-year mentorships at institutions seeking to strengthen diversity in the geosciences.