Gary Comer with Paul Revere students 2000

Every child deserves the opportunity to explore the world outside his or her neighborhood.”
—Gary Comer

Gary Comer

Entrepreneur, Explorer, Philanthropist

The late Gary C. Comer grew up in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Imbued with a strong love of Lake Michigan from an early age, Gary became a world-class competitive sailor. In 1963, he founded his own direct merchant company, Lands’ End. Under his leadership, Lands’ End was recognized as one of the “100 Best Companies To Work For In America.” Gary’s singular curiosity and passion for helping others to build better lives led to the pursuit of numerous charitable endeavors, including the creation of the Comer Science and Education Foundation. The Foundation’s core mission − to improve urban education and the lives of children − was realized with the opening of the Gary Comer Youth Center in May 2006.


Gary Comer grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the 1930s. In 1998, he visited his grammar school, Paul Revere Elementary, and found that the school, as well as its surrounding neighborhood, faced many challenges. Comer had a desire to help and began by donating funds for facility and teaching improvements. He continued to invest in Revere to improve the school and its academic performance, the results of which have been dramatic. Comer’s commitment grew, creating additional partnerships to help address challenges in this traditionally underserved area of the city.