$500k donation from The Charles C. Condes Trust aims to reverse brain drain

The Charles C. Condes Venture Impact Award Will Provide $25K Annual Grants to Promising Greek Companies

In order to provide immediate economic stimulus to enterprises that are simultaneously creating jobs and helping people on the ground in Greece, the Charles C. Condes Venture Impact Award (VIA) has been established by The Hellenic Initiative, with the support of the Helidoni Foundation and a $500,000 donation from the estate of Charles C. Condes.

Charles C. Condes was the son of Greek immigrants from Laconia and Arcadia. Upon completing his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Charles was drafted, serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II as a meteorologist who was attached to the Royal Air Force. After the war, Charles worked as a consultant in the private sector and was later recruited for the position of Bridge Design Engineer for the City of Chicago. “He designed the machinery that raised many of the iconic bridges over the Chicago River,” said his niece, Harriette Condes Zervakis. In addition, he made numerous successful investments, and turned his attention to philanthropic endeavors. His legacy continues to have a positive impact in the United States and Greece.

While THI continues to support endeavors that encourage the creation of startups, COVID-19 has focused its attention on helping existing firms survive the new crisis. Talented, energetic young people with goods and services businesses are now finding themselves cash-starved in the pandemic, and THI has stepped in with material and moral support. The VIA will award annual cash prizes of $25K each to companies producing returns while having a measurable social impact.

Harriette Condes Zervakis was motivated to make the donation by her uncle’s deep love for Greece, and her personal concern about the impact of brain drain on Greece. His views were shared by his late, lovely wife Phyllis.

“It has been alarming to see thousands of bright young Hellenes forced to leave their homeland and to take their talents elsewhere,” she commented. “I was happy to find an organization like THI that is addressing this critical issue.”

The awards will be presented at a special online event on December 17, 2020.


Harriette Condes Zervakis: “Though born and raised in Chicago, Uncle Charles held a special place in his heart for Greek history, culture, and language, along with faith that the Greek people are by nature resilient, innovative, and enterprising. The VIA Awards are in line with his vision.”

George P. Stamas, THI Board President: “THI invested in Greece’s promising startup community during the Greek crisis. The success of those young firms validated our approach and made us proud. Now that they face the COVID, we have doubled down on our support with the VIA. This generous gift from The Charles C. Condes Trust will help bolster promising Greek companies.”

Peter J. Poulos, THI’s Executive Director stated: “Since we could not organize physical events this year we decided to create the Venture Impact Award in order to support startups in need of capital who are also making an impact on society. With the gift from the Estate of Charles Condes we will be able to make a real difference.”