The Next Generation of Chicago Philanthropists

Lurie Children’s is a national leader in pediatric care and research, relentless in our drive to transform futures against often daunting odds. But progress doesn’t happen on its own. If you believe every child deserves a healthier future, share your strength and become an Innovator.

As an Innovator, you'll network with other outstanding philanthropists, get a behind-the-scenes view of our life changing research and programs and leave a lasting impact on our patients and families. The Innovators program offers the opportunity to have unparalleled access to medical center leaders and learn about programs in need of key philanthropic support. Members commit to the program with an annual investment that is collectively pooled to fund a project chosen by the group. At the end of the year, the group gathers to hear proposal pitches from physicians and researchers and then votes on one of three projects to fund.

This unique program designed to bridge the gap between emerging leaders and philanthropy is unmatched by anything in Chicago. Innovators has identified the next generation of Chicago’s emerging civic leaders.

Commit to Progress

  1. Commit a minimum $5,000 investment that will be pooled with other Innovators for a collaborative impact.
  2. Learn about the high priority needs at Lurie Children’s as you meet leading-edge clinicians and researchers who are shaping a healthier future for every child.
  3. Help us choose: Innovators convene to collectively select a project to fund.

Convene with Purpose

Four times a year, Innovators gather to be informed and empowered through conversations with caregivers, patients, physician-scientists and fellow philanthropists. Opportunities include:

  • Behind-the-scenes tours of Lurie Children's state-of-the-art facility. 
  • Ability to brainstorm with medical leaders on solutions to important issues.
  • Connections to other thought-leaders and philanthropists through networking and engagement opportunities.

Meet the Innovators

Jen VanEekeren

Jen VanEekeren and her husband Luke joined Lurie Children’s Innovators as a way to honor their son Vincent James who lived for only four days due to a complication at birth. The VanEekerens were so touched by all of the doctors and nurses that supported them and were searching for a way to give back to Lurie Children’s. Jen says that taking an active role in shaping research and advancing lifesaving treatments is the best way they can honor Vincent’s memory.

Jen isn’t only an invaluable member of Innovators. She’s also a mom to four children—Ben, Nicole, Ryan and Joshua. It is Jen’s goal to be there for all of her children’s precious moments, both big and small. She attends sporting events and dance practices and volunteers in the classroom. She also serves on the admissions tour committee at the school her children attend and has chaired the Annual Fund for the school for two years with Luke.

On the weekends you can find Jen and the VanEekerens enjoying time with extended family, hanging out with their dogs and taking in all Chicago has to offer.

We are very grateful to have Jen’s support as we work together to discover lifesaving cures and breakthroughs for children locally and across the world.

See Our Impact

The urgency, and the potential, to defeat childhood cancer has never been greater. The generous support of Innovators has brought us closer to achieving this vision. Read about the impact 2018 Innovators had on Precision Medicine Oncology. 

2018 Impact Report

Join Now

Are you interested in becoming a Lurie Children's Innovator? 

Register Now

Download Our Overview and Expectations

To learn how your company can sponsor an Innovator, review our corporate sponsorship guide.

Download the Corporate Guide



View Event Photos

November 2019: Selection Dinner

View More

September 2019: Behind the Scenes

View More

April 2019: Soho House

View More

March 2019: Launch Party

View More

November 2018: Selection Dinner

View More

September 2018: Tour

View More

January 2018: Launch Party

View More

Contact Us

Skender Foundation Partnership

We are grateful for Skender Foundation’s long-standing support of Lurie Children’s and their investment to sponsor the Innovators program through 2021. Since the launch of the Innovators program, Skender Foundation has generously underwritten all of the program’s expenses, enabling 100% of Innovators’ investments to be directed to the medical center project selected by the group each year.