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The Bolhous Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to disrupting the cycle of poverty by creating opportunity for women and girls to break through barriers and build brilliance.

Kathy Bolhous, the Chairman and CEO of a leading manufacturing company, established the Foundation in response to the economic hardship she experienced as a child and the gender bias she faced on her rise to the top of a male-dominated industry. The Bolhous Foundation embodies her determination to succeed against these odds and her passion to help more women do the same.

Inspired by Kathy’s journey, the Foundation’s mission is to empower economically disadvantaged women and girls by removing barriers to their success from early education through career development and beyond. We do this through strategic grantmaking and close collaboration with community leaders and organizations that share our ambition to ensure this underserved group has access to opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. Guided by best practices from the field and rooted in grassroots community efforts, we invest in research-driven interventions and programs that drive impact.

At the Foundation we know that women’s success has a profound impact on our families, our communities and our country. Yet, today, less than 2% of philanthropic funding is dedicated to the advancement of women and girls. Our vision is to inspire a movement to raise the level of support and advocacy for women and girls.

We invest in organizations and leaders fighting to create a more equitable future.

A future with limitless potential where women and girls in historically underserved communities know no barriers to success and are able to pursue their dreams and build brilliant lives.


Abigayil L. Joseph Head Shot

Abigayil Joseph



Kathy Bolhous


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Rod Bolhous




The Gray Matter Experience empowers young Black teens and young adults to disrupt the status quo, mobilize innovative ideas, and champion their communities. Since 2016, they’ve supported more than 1,000 young people through personal development, business education, and nurturing their commitment to social impact. Gray Matter offers a nationally-recognized curriculum that cultivates the entrepreneurial mindset. Through their engaging tuition-free program and community of allies, they ensure that these budding visionaries are equipped with essential skills, relationships, and resources to become agents of change and thrive in a global economy.

Chicago Architecture Center

Founded in 1966, the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is the leading organization devoted to celebrating Chicago as a center of architectural innovation. Girls Build! is the CAC’s unique STEAM-based program designed to engage girls ages 12 to 15 in exploring the built environment through hands-on, digitally robust activities and exposure to women in science, technology, engineering, architecture, and construction fields. The program, offered as six-week sessions and week-long camps at locations across Chicago, provides girls with personalized training and feedback on their design work to increase their self-efficacy. Since 2016, GB! has served more than 500 girls from 250 schools.

Illinois Science and Technology Coalition

Paving the way for the next generation of innovators by connecting students to industries and developing a stronger, more inclusive talent pipeline in Illinois. With the contribution from the Kathy Bolhous Foundation, ISTC hosted a summer cohort for girls and non-binary students as part of the 6×3 Project series. This inaugural group of young innovators worked for six weeks designing an app to disseminate information about adhesions with the goal of reducing surgical complications among underrepresented patients. Through each ISTC program, students leverage mentorship to not only explore the world of STEM but build relationships and social connections to strengthen their own identities in STEM pathways.

Chicago Innovation - Women's Mentoring Co-op

Committed to empowering women to thrive in their personal and professional lives through one on one mentorship and curated skill development resources The Women’s Mentoring Co-op is where women connect, innovate, and grow in an incredibly supportive environment. The Bolhous Foundation funding supported scholarships to a number of visionary low-income women as well as mentorship and career building resources to under-resourced participants, empowering them to reach their goals.

City Colleges of Chicago

As part of the Chicago Roadmap initiative with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and with generous funding from the Bolhous Foundation, CCC and CPS are helping middle school girls see themselves in STEM. Through a series of Career Spotlight days at each of the seven City Colleges, up to 300 students take a deep dive into STEM careers with opportunities for hands-on exploration, campus tours, and networking with college leadership and employers. There is an emphasis to provide a space for middle school girls to experience STEM pathways, and that early exposure opportunities are the most successful in opening their minds to future possibilities.

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s TechGYRLS is a multi-week, project-based learning program that encourages young women and girl-identifying individuals ages 8-14 to explore their curiosities about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, take calculated risks, create leadership opportunities, and envision a broad range of possibilities for their futures. TechGYRLS partners with industry leaders in the STEAM and tech fields for curriculum resources, training, and activities that help youth learn problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity as well as incorporating social-emotional learning (SEL) interventions designed to strengthen mental and emotional resilience to prepare participants for long-term academic and social-emotional success.






The Bolhous Foundation has an invitation only application process and does not accept unsolicited letters of inquiry or proposals. We strive to be collaborative and agile partners with non-profit organizations, community groups, and other philanthropic institutions committed to the mission of empowering women and girls. We invite proposals from potential grantees based on our vision to break the cycle of generational poverty, and the priorities set forth by the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Although our application process is by invitation only, if you believe your organization’s work aligns with the Bolhous Foundation’s current grantmaking priorities, please contact Abigayil Joseph, CEO, to determine next steps.