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General News

The N. Dimos Foundation and Ιts History of Contributions

April 22, 2024

Initially founded by Nicholas Demos in 1964, the N. Demos Foundation was a personal initiative of the late businessman whose vision was to create a charitable organization supporting philanthropic activities in Greece.

Nicholas Demos was born in Tarsina, a small village in Corinth, Greece, and moved to the United States as a young man, becoming a successful businessman and an innovator in auto-hauling industry. Demos owned Kenosha Auto Transport Corporation (K.A.T.), a company he originally formed in the United States in the 1930’s. Demos decided to build his haulers to maximize the opportunities for available load-outs and designed a unique “convertible” trailer for the delivery of automobiles. From terminals in its namesake city and Broadview, Illinois, K.A.T., as it was called, rolled up many miles delivering vehicles produced by American manufacturers throughout the United States.

His grand vision was to create a Greek organization similar to “Boys Town,” a not-for-profit organization in the US dedicated to caring for children and families. Unfortunately, Demos passed away in 1966 before his dream became a reality. However, the Foundation he had incorporated in 1964, began to donate funds to deserving organizations in Greece to further his cause.

The N. Demos Foundation has now provided generous grants and constant support for educational institutions, social work, and healthcare activities that support orphaned children, abused women, and people with disabilities and drug addictions. The beneficiaries also include the Centre for Asia Minor Studies in Athens, the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies to digitize the manuscripts and archives, and the American School of Classical Studies.

Its initiatives include granting scholarships to outstanding and deserving students to attend premier institutions such as the American College of Greece in Athens, Anatolia College, and the American Farm School, the latter two located in Thessaloniki.

Today, the Foundation enjoys an extensive history of impact keenly exemplified by its long praxis of giving, notes Judge Paul C. Lillios, the Chairperson of the Foundation. Born and raised in Iowa and deeply influenced by his Greek roots, the Chicago-based former US Administrative Law Judge and Federal Prosecutor has become one of the most impactful leaders of the N. Demos Foundation.

Paul was born in the US to Greek parents, with roots extending from Chania (Crete) to Velventos, near Kozani. He vividly recalls growing up in Iowa in a small Greek community of 60-80 families. His involvement in the Greek community blossomed when he moved to Chicago. “I was privileged and blessed to help co-found the opening of a Greek Orthodox church in the Northern Chicago suburbs, something which was also a great honor,” he recalls. As the current chairperson of the Legal Committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, he became involved with charitable activities, leading him to the N. Demos Foundation. His association with the N. Demos Foundation started about 20 years ago, which he characterizes as an “interesting and rewarding journey culminating into serving as its Chairperson for the past ten years.”

Paul stated that the Foundation focuses on those organizations (both large and small) that provide social, educational, cultural, or rehabilitative services. “We annually fund between 25-30 organizations, with individual grants ranging on average from $5,000 to $25,000 USD. A typical example includes an organization that helps cut the curbs and make it more accessible for disabled people in Greece, which resonated with my background as a judge, because I heard about and dealt with many cases of people with disabilities. We also fund organizations that help people with hearing problems, for example. We choose the organizations we support very carefully because we want to purposely provide our grants in many cases to small organizations that do not have the ability to seek donations on their own. So, we believe that our help is truly impactful.”

One of the most heartfelt projects that the Demos Foundation has undertaken throughout the years has been the purposeful allocation of grants to educational institutions in Greece for high school and undergraduate students, providing funds to support several student scholarships.

An example of the Foundation’s steadfast commitment is exemplified in the cases of the American College of Greece, Anatolia College, and American Farm School, all U.S. non-profit educational institutions operating in Athens and Thessaloniki, respectively.

Anatolia College represents one of the first projects the Demos Foundation supported, dating back to the early ’70s. Since then, more than $500,000 has been donated to the educational institution granting over 50 full scholarships. As Lillios states, “the touching testimonials of the students themselves drive the Foundation to continue this growing philanthropy.” The choice to provide unparalleled support to Anatolia College boils down to one crucial factor – the institution’s vast historical background.

Paul envisions a more impactful and sustainable future for the N. Demos Foundation by welcoming resources from other organizations that support charitable work in Greece. “There are a plethora of smaller family foundations or organizations which may not have the time or resources to adequately decide which charities in Greece need assistance. The Demos Foundation, with its 55-year history of philanthropy to deserving institutions in Greece, therefore welcomes other foundations to direct contributions they may wish to make to Greek charities and institutions to the  Demos Foundation, so that, coupled with the Foundation’s other annual grants, maximum financial assistance can be directed to  those Greek organizations most in need. Paul notes that the Northern Trust Bank in Chicago has provided the Demos Foundation with banking, accounting, and investment management services since the very beginning of the Foundation.  He observes that the Foundation’s decades-long knowledge of the organizations it funds in Greece combined with the skill and integrity of the Northern Trust Bank makes the Demos Foundation a very credible partner to those who want to help charities in Greece but do not know where to start or how to best accomplish that laudable goal.

The expansive portfolio of the Foundation’s benefactors is driven by Lillios’ appreciation for his Greek roots and his respect for Greek values. One striking difference distinguishing the Greek American community is their “great love for Greece.” Paul states, “there is a strong connection that I haven’t seen with many other ethnic groups. Many of us maintain relationships with our relatives in Greece, which includes even the diaspora community’s young generations. In addition, our shared religion provides us all with another tie that has bound us together across the generations.”

The knowledge and experience that have helped distinguish the Foundation’s work classifying its activities as a hallmark of the community, render the Demos Foundation’s public-spirited contributions as one of the most important lessons when it comes to philanthropy; it’s not always about the excessiveness of funds or the visibility of the organization, it’s about perpetuating the bond between altruistic intentions and desires to give back to the community.

The N. Demos Foundation, Inc. in brief

  • The N. Demos Foundation, Inc. was incorporated in the State of New York on November 27, 1964, and funded after the passing of Mr. Demos in 1966.
  • The Demos Foundation awards grants to approximately 25 university and colleges, social service organizations, cultural and religious institutions per year.
  • Nikolas Demos made it a specific condition in the trust to fund only deserving organizations in Greece.  The Demos Foundation does not provide monies or grants to any organization other than in Greece.
  • Demos Foundation grant monies provide scholarships for deserving students, supports smaller organizations that serve the disabled population or the less fortunate, and provides funds for the preservation of Greek Orthodox manuscripts and writings.  Specifically, the Board of the Demos Foundation concentrates its grants in four primary areas:
  1. Social services and health work, managed on a private basis, independent of government funding;
  2. Cultural activities calculated to enrich or preserve Greek achievements;
  3. Scholarship aid to schools in Greece;
  4. Schools of a special nature for which government funding is not available.
  • Over the years the Demos Foundation has granted in excess of $4,000,000 USD to deserving organizations in Greece.

Nicholas Demos entrepreunerial 

Demos owned Kenosha Auto Transport Corporation (K.A.T.), a company that he originally formed in the United States 1933.  Mr. Demos was an innovator in auto-hauling industry and designed a unique trailer for the delivery of automobiles throughout the United States.

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