Leading with Heart

A Giving Heart Foundation’s vision is to eliminate invasive treatments for kids with congenital and structural heart disease and let kids be kids again. Proudly partnering with Lurie Children’s, Leading with Heart is designed to identify future leaders who are current high school students in Chicagoland aged 16 years or older.

A Giving Heart Foundation is continuing its newest initiative, Leading with Heart, to engage Chicago-area high school students in philanthropy and develop them into strong community leaders. Participating students receive leadership development training and learn about philanthropy while raising much-needed funds for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s Heart Center.

Students engage in several sessions and learn all aspects of philanthropy and leadership from vision to execution. They receive coaching from some of Chicago’s leaders representing all aspects of the for-profit and not-for-profit communities. The students are assigned to teams to develop a strategy coached by community leaders and focused on the outcome of successful fundraising.

Sessions take place monthly between January and May, with a graduation ceremony held in May.

Bob Berk (A Giving Heart Foundation) and Ben Black (Lurie Children’s) have  developed the program curriculum.

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At the first meeting, students will come together to begin the development of a vision statement and hear from Chicago business leaders sharing their experience and learnings.


Students will bring their vision to life as teams develop a business plan. Learning will be facilitated through videos, guest speakers, and other resource materials to build a business plan.


As business plans are executed, some will achieve success and some will face barriers. Students will learn ways to overcome obstacles and build upon success from Chicago leaders and classmates.


A critical component of organizations and team growth is debriefing. Great organizations adjust and improve. We’ll use this step to review everything learned and how to implement it into leadership roles.


Graduates will be celebrated, and top performers will be recognized. Students will share what they’ve learned with peers, faculty, and guests.


  • 16 years of age by May 2024
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA (or equivalent)
  • Completed Application

Bob Berk, an accomplished entrepreneur, Master Chair for VISTAGE International, and author of Leadership Between the Sheets. Bob is known for bringing clarity and invaluable perspective to business leaders and students of all ages. Bob has spent the last 20 years working with leadership teams and C Suite Executives, while also developing and leading Millennium Development programs for the Chicago business community. Bob has also spoken at the university level and worked with leadership development at a Chicago Public High School.


Mr. Berk and the instructors [pushed me out of my comfort zone] by constantly asking follow-up questions before they were satisfied with our work. I learned to push myself to ask the follow up questions!

Daniel BraunThe Latin School

If you’re going to do just one extracurricular this year, add this to your list. It will change you into the leader you didn’t know you could be.

Isabelle PacurarTaft High School

I would definitely recommend this program to other students because it has an amazing panel of leaders who are exceeding expectations in their career paths.

Maddie MacekOak Park - River Forest High School

We worked with many people who were all unique but showed us how to work in a big group and use everyone’s strengths to achieve a common goal. Leading with Heart is a great experience where high schoolers are pushed and challenged to learn about themselves and grow. At the same time, that energy and newfound skills are channeled into a worthy, charitable cause.

Emily Cavero & Leah BradleyHinsdale Central High School

Registration is now open. Applications for the next class, which will begin in January 2025, are now being accepted.

Apply now for the next class!

Support a Leading with Heart Student


Lead Sponsor

Meeting Tomorrow

Assessment Sponsor

Predictive Index

Gold Level

Bob and Carole Berk, David and Stephanie Cox, vitaltech Solutions
Scholarship Sponsors

Silver Level

In Memory of Kevin Burke and in Honor of the Burke Family, Kevin and Kayla Carey, Jason and Jen Stroiman
Scholarship Sponsors

Bronze Level

Jim and Gloria Mack, Larry and Courtney Wright
Scholarship Sponsors