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SMART Growth

Grants to Cook County, Illinois Nonprofits
for Capacity Building and Staff Development

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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The Chicago Community Trust

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:



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Grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 per year to Cook County, Illinois arts and culture nonprofits for capacity building and staff development. Funding is intended to help small organizations involve their board and staff in fortifying management practices to effectively support their mission.

SMART Growth is a four-year capacity-building program that helps Cook County’s small arts and cultural organizations engage their board and staff in strengthening management practices that effectively support their mission, enabling them to contribute to the community, pay a living wage to artists and staff, and remain resilient in the face of economic and demographic shifts. This signature Trust program includes a customized initial assessment by the Arts & Business Council of Chicago and training in the SMART Growth methodology, followed by 3 years of general operating grants which can range from $15,000 to $50,000 per year.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 144737

Estimated Size of Grant:

Individual grants will range from $15,000 - $50,000, per year.

Term of Contract:

SMART Growth is a four-year program.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicant organizations must meet the following criteria:

-Be an Illinois nonprofit with federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt designation
-Be incorporated as an arts and culture organization (not a social service agency, college/university or other entity with an affiliated arts/cultural program)
-Be located in and primarily serve Cook County
-Have an annual operating budget that is less than $1 million in its most recently audited fiscal year
-Have at least one paid management staff person
-Have a functioning, volunteer Board of Directors
-Have not been a prior SMART Growth grant recipient

Pre-proposal Conference:

Trust program staff will host a series of information sessions throughout the fall, to answer your questions about the SMART Growth program and the application process.

Thursday, October 19
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Rootwork Gallery
645 W. 18th Street
Chicago, IL 60616

Friday, November 17
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Chinatown Branch, Chicago Public Library
2100 S. Wentworth Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616

Friday, December 1
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Black Ensemble Theater
4450 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60640

Thursday, December 7
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
South Shore Cultural Center
7059 S. South Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60649

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are now being accepted for the next cycle of SMART Growth organizations. The deadline to apply is December 15, 2017.

To get started:

1. Log in or create an account for GrantCentral.

2. Complete, or update, your Organizational Profile.

3. Complete the RFP for SMART Growth. You will be asked to provide a narrative (up to 2,000 characters) describing how your organization is deeply rooted in and reflective of a community, target population or art form that is underrepresented in the cultural spectrum of the Chicago region.

4. Complete, or update, your Illinois Cultural Data Project funder report for The Chicago Community Trust. You will be asked to upload your funder report in PDF format.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register for November 17 session:

Register for December 1 session:

Register for December 7 session:

Apply online:

The Chicago Community Trust
225 North Michigan Avenue Suite 2200
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: (312) 616-8000
Fax: (312) 616-7955

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois: Cook County