Our grants are not just checks, not just points on a map.
Our grants are lifelines, connecting individual donors with individual men, women, children, families striving for a better life. These connections stretch across history, so that a visionary donor of yesterday is providing food, shelter or health care for a Chicagoan today.
What We Fund
Following the priorities of our strategic plan, the Trust awards competitive grants for general operating support, or GO Grants, and responsive grants to address specific community needs or opportunities. As these responsive grant opportunities arise, RFPs will be created and shared here.
In addition to our own competitive grants, we also house many special initiatives that retain their unique identity through independent grant making.
NOW OPEN: SMART Growth
SMART Growth is a four-year capacity-building grant program that helps strengthen and develop small arts and cultural organizations deeply rooted in and reflective of communities, target populations or art forms that are underrepresented in the cultural spectrum of the Chicago region. The deadline to apply is December 15. More details and how to apply
Launched in 2016, the General Operating Grants (GO Grants) program streamlines the funding process for our nonprofit partners. Instead of funding a specific program with defined outcomes, this program provides renewable support to help sustain the nonprofits addressing chronic needs or providing critical services in our community.
In the first three years of funding, as we fully define and roll out this new program during a pilot phase, proposals for grants in issue areas like homelessness, health and hunger are accepted by invitation only from organizations with track records of achievement and a history of partnership with the Trust.
Beginning in 2019, the Trust will offer more GO Grant opportunities with open application processes. Examples will include the SMART Growth multi-year program for small, diverse arts organization.
If you have questions about the program, you can check out a summary of our first year of GO Grants, from our Annual Report.
All open funding opportunities will be posted in our GrantCentral online system, so we encourage nonprofits in the Chicago region to create an organizational profile.
Partnerships and Initiatives
The Trust has created many special affiliated funds and working partnerships, in order to creatively and collaboratively tackle issues of special concern. Find out about the grants offered by:
Fellowships and Scholarships
These specific funding opportunities help to support individuals in their development as professionals and as leaders for our region.
Who is Eligible?
The Trust awards grants to organizations whose work is consistent with our mission and our current priorities.
The Trust funds nonprofit agencies with evidence of tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that are not classified as private foundations. The Trust also accepts applications from agencies that have a nonprofit fiscal sponsor.
Each grant opportunity will have its own additional criteria for funding.
As a community foundation, the Trust’s grants are awarded to programs that benefit residents of the Chicago region. Only a few specific partnerships or initiatives may award grants to projects extend beyond our region.
Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
The mission of The Chicago Community Trust is to improve the lives of the people in metropolitan Chicago. We believe that the diversity of our community is a fundamental strength of our region. Our mission is best fulfilled when we embrace diversity as a value and a practice.
We maintain that achieving diversity requires an enduring commitment to inclusion that must find full expression in our organizational culture, values, norms and behaviors. Throughout our work, we will support diversity in all of its forms, encompassing but not limited to age, disability status, economic circumstance, ethnicity, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.
Leading by example we aspire to make diversity a core and abiding strength of the nonprofit sector.
The Trust believes that the board and staff composition of grant recipients should reflect the diversity and demographics of the community being served, and include diversity among its leadership at the board and senior staff levels to ensure the diverse perspectives needed at these decision-making levels.
Specifically, we require all grant applicants either to adopt the Trust’s Diversity Statement, above, or to have a similar policy adopted by their boards. In addition, the Trust asks that applicants provide demographic data on board and staff as well as clients/beneficiaries. Applicants are encouraged to provide a rationale or action plan to address lack of diversity in their organization. In aggregate form these data provide an important profile of minority inclusion in the nonprofit sector.
Learn how to connect with funding that meets your needs.
We post all open funding opportunities in GrantCentral, the online grants management system. By creating an account, you can research available grants, and sign up to receive alerts for future grants as well as events and other opportunities. Create an account now to get started.
Partnerships and Initiatives
Fellowships and Scholarships
For the Searle Scholars Program, apply through the program’s website at searlescholars.net
For the Monash/Scott Scholarship Medical Student Scholarship Program, please contact National Medical Fellowships for application details.
For the McHenry County Community Foundation, apply through the Foundation website.
Working in Partnership
The Trust strives to provide outstanding service to grant recipients, working in collaboration throughout the duration of their funding, and beyond.
Reporting and Renewal
Grant recipients are required to complete final reports that reflect on their progress towards the outcomes targeted in the grant proposal. Through these reports, both the Trust staff and the organization are able to gather valuable feedback and knowledge that can inform future work. We do not share this information with any other organization or funder.
For all grants originating in GrantCentral, reports can be completed right in GrantCentral.
If you were awarded a competitive Trust grant before September 2014, use this grant report template to complete your reporting.
African American Legacy grants: use this AAL grant report template.
Nuestro Futuro grants: use this NF grant report template.
Publicizing Your Grant
When news of your grant from The Chicago Community Trust is publicized, the benefits are widespread. Your organization receives attention and acclaim for the important work you do, which can spark the interest of other supporters. In addition, the recognition of the Trust and our donors can inspire more charitable giving in Chicago.
If you’d like to publicize your grant from the Trust, please contact us for the right language to use to describe the grant. If you’d like to include the Trust’s logo, we can provide that too.
When you contact us, we will ask for your grant ID number. Our grants come from many different funds, with different language used to acknowledge each grant based on its source, and your grant ID number will help us supply you with the right publicity tools.
Once you’ve drafted a communication about the grant, it must be reviewed and approved by The Chicago Community Trust at least five business days before distribution.
For all these publicity needs, please contact Eva Penar at email@example.com.
Help and Contact
For questions about the Trust’s grant making, take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions.
For assistance with your grant proposal, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need help while working in GrantCentral, you’ll find resources in the Help section at the upper right of the screen, as well as a Contact Us button on every page to get your questions answered.
About Donor Advised Grants
The Trust serves many generous individuals, families and corporations who manage their charitable giving through donor advised funds. Grants from these funds are made at the donors’ recommendation, supporting their own philanthropic causes. There is no application process, and donor advised funds are not open to requests for funding.
Upon submission, all requests for funding, including proposals and any supporting materials, become the sole property of The Chicago Community Trust and will not be returned. The Chicago Community Trust reserves the right to reject any request for funding without explanation.
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