IDEAL Foundation Announces $50,000 Challenge Grant to Cassandra Banks Foundation

Non-profit organization pledges to make electrical trade field more inclusive for women of color


SYCAMORE, Ill. The IDEAL Industries Foundation, the philanthropic arm of IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC., has awarded a $50,000 challenge grant to the Cassandra Banks Foundation (CBF), a California-based nonprofit committed to helping Black women excel in nontraditional professions, with an emphasis on the electrical trade. The willingness of the IDEAL Industries Foundation to invest in the CBF stems from a joint belief in making the electrical trade—a male-dominated industry—more diverse and inclusive of women and people of color.


The grant funds will directly support the CBF's efforts to raise awareness of the opportunities in the electrical trades; recruit Black women into apprenticeship programs; and provide mentorship throughout their journey


“The IDEAL Industries Foundation and the inspiring people at the CBF believe the electrical trades and construction industry can only benefit from becoming a more inclusive sector, and that women and people of color deserve the well-paying and rewarding career opportunities the trades offer,” said Nicole Juday Rhoads Executive Director, IDEAL Industries Foundation. “We look forward to supporting the efforts of the CBF and other organizations who can help break down the various policy, economic and social barriers that contribute to the lack of diversity in the trades.”


The goal of the challenge grant, which will be disbursed once the CBF raises matching funds, is to increase funding for their programs and leverage additional donor support from private sectors, a proven strategy for long-term financial success. 


“Our mission to break down barriers for Black women in the trade is made possible by generous grants from organizations like the IDEAL Foundation,” said Brennan Banks, Founder and Vice President, Partnerships at the CBF. 


“We are driven by our visionary namesake, Cassandra Banks, who forged a path for Black women in the trades by entering the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ apprenticeship program as the only Black woman in her class.”


Established in 1985, the IDEAL Industries Foundation focuses on two areas: supporting social service organizations within DeKalb County, Illinois, and increasing participation by women and people of color in the electrical trades. Over the last 35 years, the Foundation has stewarded and distributed corporate philanthropy and continues to advocate for careers in the skilled trades. In August, IDEAL and the Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT) hosted a special live discussion in honor of Women’s Equality Day that showcased ways to empower and advocate for women in the trades.


To see how the IDEAL Industries Foundation’s initiatives train and support women and people of color to enter and stay in the electrical trades, click here.


To learn more about programs and mentorships offered by the Cassandra Banks Foundation, click here.





IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. is a global, diversified family-owned business designing and manufacturing superior products for the electrical, lighting and infrastructure industries. The 105-year-old company was founded in 1916 on the premise of forging ideal relationships with customers, employees, partners and communities. The company has consistently grown and expanded under five generations of family ownership. For more information, visit





The IDEAL Industries Foundation invests in philanthropic solutions to issues impacting IDEAL and its employees, communities, and customers, increasing equity and prosperity for all.


Built upon a commitment to good corporate citizenship and to honor Founder J. Walter Becker’s belief in the importance of strong relationships, the IDEAL Industries Foundation has been making grants to improve quality of life since 1985. Currently, the Foundation’s work focuses on two areas: supporting social service organizations within DeKalb County, Illinois, and increasing participation by women and people of color in the electrical trades.





Cassandra Banks Foundation (CBF) supports black women throughout their journey to economic freedom through apprenticeship in the trades. Inspired by the work of Cassandra Banks, a 40-year journeyman, CBF is building opportunities for black women to excel in nontraditional roles, through pathways to financial stability, tactical partnerships with community-based organizations, engaged mentorships, and localized investments. We seek to create positive, lasting change in communities of color – strengthening generations to come.