High character. Bold dreams.
Unlimited impact.

Wentcher Foundation is the scholarship organization that creates equitable opportunities for high-achieving Chicago-area students to earn a college degree and go on to positively impact their communities.


Awarding renewable scholarships to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Oakton Community College students


Offering hands-on support during college


Building a community of student and alumni leaders who are making a positive impact


We currently have over 800 current and alumni Wentcher Scholars who are already changing the world.

The Wentcher Foundation identifies graduating CPS seniors and incoming Oakton Community College students for renewable scholarship awards. Selected Wentcher Scholars exemplify academic excellence, high character and demonstrate financial need. These three criteria and a desire to help the most accomplished and talented college-bound students has changed the lives of over 800 Wentcher Scholars to date.

Wentcher Scholars impact the world on local, national and international levels – they are researchers at the nation’s highest educational institutions and teachers who serve in elementary classrooms around Chicago. From Fulbright recipients to forward-thinking doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and business professionals, Wentcher Scholars are formidable leaders in their communities. They also include artists and writers, pastors, and EMTs. No matter the undergraduate major or the pathway they decide to take after college, the Wencher community is here to support them. We currently have over 800 current and alumni Wentcher Scholars who are already changing the world.

Founder Ernie Wentcher with Robert Slay, Wentcher Scholar Class of 2013, now on Wentcher Board of Directors

Built on the legacy of Ernest “Ernie” Wentcher and his vision for empowering high-character individuals, the Wentcher Foundation supports its scholars through college and prepares them for success following graduation.

Ernie Wentcher & our organization's history

The Wentcher Foundation is endowed and sustained by the legacy of the late Ernest “Ernie” Wentcher, the founder of the organization.  He was born in Siberia in 1914 and at age of 3, he and his family fled Russia to the United States during the Russian Revolution. Through his own educational experience, he developed the fundamental belief that education is a vehicle for changing the world. Ernie’s experiences and values shape the Foundation’s vision for building a better future through student empowerment.

Ernie believed a financial barrier should never stop a student from attending college. He was known for developing personal relationships with students. He’d learn about their lives, provide career and school advice, and give them the financial support they needed to prosper. Through his boundless inquisitiveness, he engaged others at all levels of society in conversation and always aimed to “lend a helping hand.”

Wentcher Foundation Staff

Brian Fitzpatrick

Executive Director 

Theresa Pfister

Programs Manager

Linda Hoffmann

Finance Manager

Wentcher Board of Directors

Brian Fitzpatrick, President

Robert Wise, Vice President

Dan Williams, Treasurer

Laura Bordine, Secretary 

Laura Farr, Wentcher Scholar Class of 2006

Richard Helmholz

Robert Slay, Wentcher Scholar Class of 2013

Lucy Tuck

Contact Us

Email: info@wentcherfoundation.org

Main Office Line: 847.410.1990
Fax: 847.410.1989

Please call ahead if you plan to visit our office.
1000 Skokie Boulevard Suite 250
Wilmette, IL 60091

Proud Members