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Program Grants

Grants to Chicago, Illinois Nonprofits for Leadership Investments,
Justice, and Arts Activities for Underrepresented Communities

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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The Field Foundation of Illinois

Deadline Date:

09/15/18 11:59 PM Central Time


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Grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to Chicago, Illinois nonprofit organizations serving disadvantaged populations within the community. Funding is intended to support work in the areas of Art, Justice, and Leadership Investments in order to promote cultural creativity, equity, and strengthened civic leadership on behalf of City residents.

Racial Priorities:

The Field Foundation is interested in investing 60% of its portfolio in a range of community-based organizations with an emphasis on ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American) organizations throughout the Chicagoland area. ALAANA organizations can be classified in the following way: By, for, and about serving ALAANA individuals, cultures, and communities. To assess whether an organization fits into this definition, applicants should consider whether:

- By: The leadership and board are directed, managed, and/or led by majority ALAANA individuals.
- For: The organization primarily works to improve social conditions for ALAANA cultures, communities, and individuals.
- About: The organization’s mission references a commitment to serving ALAANA communities.

While the Field Foundation will continue to fund a range of nonprofits, it will be race explicit in its work, and focus on understanding how funding with a racial equity lens can improve outcomes for Chicagoans.

Geographic Priorities:

To understand how need and race align throughout the city of Chicago, the Field Foundation created a series of maps. (See heat maps in Supporting Documents below.) The maps outline a geographic study area where less than 10% of the residents are from Caucasian backgrounds, and analyze quality of life indicators such as educational outcomes, access to health insurance, commute times, violence rates, and access to arts and culture in those areas. By overlaying race with these quality of life indicators, the Field Foundation found that there is an incredible divestment of resources leading to a nexus of poverty and trauma that align with communities of color in Chicago. Using these findings in collaboration with its racial priorities, the Foundation has created the following geographic funding preferences:

1. Study Area – (A) Organizations located and working in these communities
2. Surrounding areas – (B) Organizations located and working in communities surrounding the heatmap area
3. Surrounding suburbs – (C) Organizations located and working in the surrounding suburbs within Justice, Art and Leadership Investment
4. Citywide Efforts and Powerhouses – (D) Organizations located outside of the heatmap but working in ways that share resources, power and funding to benefit those within the heatmap and throughout the city

Program Areas:

The Field Foundation awards grants to organizations working in the fields of Justice, Art, and Leadership Investment. The Foundation primarily funds work being done to serve the people of Chicago with a focus on communities commonly divested in.

I. Justice

- Definition: The Field Foundation seeks to level the playing field across Chicago by using Field Foundation dollars to address the root causes of inequity, be it in community environment, health, housing or other issue areas. Rather than funding direct service, the Foundation will fund organizations working to address problems at a systemic and policy level.

- Examples:

- Community organizing
- Alliance network building and coalition support
- Local policy/advocacy work being done by communities for communities
- Communication-based issue reform

Goals: Build the capacity of organizations working in advocacy, justice and system change so that they can increase the visibility of critical issues and impact the root causes of those issues, with an eventual goal of creating effective systems of change and improving community conditions.

II. Art

- Definition: The Field Foundation seeks to create an art-centric city where each community has a robust investment in creativity and local cultural activities and artists. The Foundation wants to focus its dollars on supporting creative spaces inside chronically divested communities to spark cultural identity, creative expression and cultural connections. Preference will be given to community-based organizations who are deeply entrenched in community work. “Art” will remain an open and evolving term allowing the Foundation to learn through its funding of creative enterprises.

- Examples:

- Community-based art organizations within the heat map
- Nonprofit organizations supporting artists from and/or working within the heat maps
- Community defined forms of art, creative expression, and creative production happening within nonprofit spaces

- Goals: Expand creative production in divested areas of Chicago by investing in a range of art forms in specific neighborhoods and advancing the capacity of emerging artists in Chicago. This support will create safe “third spaces” for creative production, foster community bonds, and increase access to cultural experiences within Chicago communities. The eventual goal is supporting community identity through the arts while advancing hubs of creativity and innovation in divested neighborhoods of Chicago.

III. Leadership Investment

- Definition: The Field Foundation seeks to recognize, honor, and support the deep bench of visionary leaders across the Chicago by creating the “Field Leader” award. These awards are aimed at promoting visionaries across Chicago by building their social capital, skillsets, networks and exposure. By creating a Field Leader network, the Foundation aims to act as a connector, supporter, and investor in leaders who have the potential to transform Chicago. The Field Foundation will offer three opportunities for a “Field Leader” award.

- Existing Justice and/or Art Grantees: The Field Foundation will identify leaders working at existing grantee organizations to apply for a Field Leader award.
- Leadership Development Organizations: Organizations focused on leadership development may apply to the Field Foundation for funding to cover the costs of nonprofit leaders working in the realms of Justice or Art to attend their leadership programs.
- Field Foundation Graduate Fellowship: Graduate students pursuing a Master’s Degree at a Chicago university may apply for a ten-month academic year fellowship. The program is a supervised field placement at the foundation offering field work and philanthropic experience. Fellows learn all aspects of the Field Foundation grantmaking process by reviewing grant proposals, conducting site visits, and formulating grant recommendations, and provide written documentation for the Foundation’s staff and Board of Directors. Fellows also work on special projects.

Goals: Increase individual leadership capacity by supporting leaders and their organizations. Strengthen connections between rising and existing leaders across communities by growing leaders’ networks and social capital. Utilize a risk learning strategy to discover what successful leaders need by giving leaders the room and capital to discover their most productive self; with an eventual goal of racially diversifying and thereby strengthening civic leadership in Chicago.

The Field Foundation only provides support for direct services for the arts.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 174707

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Typically grants range in size from $10,000-$50,000.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

As a general rule, the Field Foundation of Illinois can only offer funding to 501(c)(3) organizations.

While a 501(c)(3) designation is preferred, the organization may on occasion partner with a 501(c)(3) as its fiscal agent. Please contact the Field Foundation to clarify and confirm eligibility.

The Foundation supports institutions and agencies primarily serving the people of Chicago.

Pre-Application Information:

The Foundation accepts letters of inquiry (LOI) three times a year in advance of the Board of Director meetings. The LOI (Letter of Inquiry) is a short online form that will allow the Field Foundation to determine if your grant request meets core eligibility criteria. Once you submit your LOI, it will be reviewed by Field Foundation staff. If it is approved, you will be notified by email, and the full application form will be available on your Field Foundation dashboard.

LOI Submission Deadlines:

Winter Cycle : LOI portal opens mid-August and closes September 15.

Summer Cycle: LOI portal opens mid-December and closes January 15.

Fall Cycle: LOI portal opens mid-April and closes May 15.

All forms must be submitted by 11:59pm (Central Time) on the day of the deadline for that particular form. Forms will not be accepted after that deadline.

The online grant system will not allow you to submit your application unless you attach all required materials.

The Field Foundation does not accept applications by email or fax. However, they will continue to accept hardcopies from organizations that are not able to use the online grant system. Please contact a program officer if you would like to submit hardcopies of application material.

An organization can submit only one proposal per cycle and may only receive one grant every twelve months.

Grants are renewable through separate requests annually.

Support for capital grants should be discussed with Field Foundation staff before submitting a proposal.

For information on the Program Grants:
Application FAQS:
For general information:
For Resources:
For Grantmaking FAQs:

Contact Information:

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

Online application portal:

Michelle Goldberg, Executive Assistant and Grants Manager
Field Foundation
200 S. Wacker Drive
Suite 3860
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 831-0910

Grant Coverage Areas:

Chicago and suburban Cook County

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois: Chicago