The Schiff Foundation Fellowship, first granted in 1989 and administered by the Department of Architecture of the Art Institute, is given annually to one student from either the University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, or The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The winning student's portfolio becomes part of the permanent collection of architectural drawings housed within the Ernest R. Graham Study Center for Architectural Drawings.
The four person, independent jury changes every year. Jury members evaluate the submissions, — which are the portfolios of the students' regular school work — select the winner, then determine the amount of the award. The yearly cash award ranges from $5,000 to $15,000. Some students have used the money to travel, pay for college expenses, prepare for state licensing exams, or purchase equipment needed for practicing the profession.
In 2005, the Architecture Department initiated a new fellowship that awards $5,000 to a Chicago-area graduate student for writing a critical and/or analytical essay about the built environment. The goals of the Schiff Foundation Critical Architectural Writing Fellowship are to: (1) promote critical thinking and writing skills among advanced students of architecture and related fields; (2) encourage the development of courses related to architectural writing within Chicago schools and universities; (3) encourage interdisciplinary courses within Chicago universities; and (4) provide economic support and practical experience for students who may wish to pursue architectural journalism or criticism as a professional goal.
Harold Schiff was a founding partner of the construction company Schal Associates, the firm that built such notable skyscrapers as the Chicago Board of Options Exchange by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (1981) and 200 South Wacker Drive by Harry Weese and Associates (1981). Although born, raised, and educated in New York (earning his degree as a civil engineer from Columbia University in 1950), his work there through the mid-seventies for Morse Diesel and a variety of other firms eventually led him to Chicago where he opened Schal Associates with Richard Halpern. In a generous gesture to support young architects and give back to the city where he established his successful career in construction management, Harold Schiff gave a substantial gift to the Department of Architecture at the Art Institute to endow the Schiff Foundation Fellowship for Architecture.