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The Directors of the Field Foundation of Illinois have adopted the following guidelines for the making of grants:

The Foundation awards grants only to institutions and agencies operating in the fields of urban and community affairs, culture, education, community welfare, health, and environment, primarily serving the people of the Chicago and suburban Cook County with a particular focus on socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

To assist the Directors in making grant decisions, certain criteria are followed: the need for the program, the institution's or agency's ability to meet this need effectively, including proper control of expenses, and the use of volunteers when applicable.

The Foundation is interested in supporting both new as well as established organizations. Preference will be given to funding innovative approaches for addressing problem areas. Established organizations (more than five years old) may receive funding, but only for new projects/programs that demonstrate innovative approaches to problems. As a general rule, general operating funds will not be provided for established organizations. For the most part, project or operating support beyond a period of three years will not be considered.

To assist organizations in preparing for a full proposal, the Field Foundation strongly encourages applicants to use its Self-Certification Checklist. For examples of the Foundation's funding, please review the 2009-2010 Biennial Report or the Recent Grants section of the website.


No grants will be made to support:

  • Endowments;
  • Organizations with Interim Executive Directors;
  • Individuals (requests for stipends should be discussed with Field Foundation staff);
  • Medical research or national health agency appeals;
  • Propaganda organizations or committees whose efforts are aimed at influencing legislation;
  • Printed materials, video or computer equipment;
  • Fund-raising events or advertising;
  • Appeals for religious purposes;
  • Other granting agencies or foundations for ultimate distribution to agencies or programs of its own choosing;
  • Custodian afterschool programs or tutoring;
  • Organizations with a limited Chicago presence;
  • Most disease specific programs, research or activities.

As the guidelines clearly indicate, the Field Foundation pursues a mission that is quite broad, and as might be expected, the Foundation is intensely solicited by a broad range and increasing volume of institutions and agencies in the Chicago area. Because the Foundation's resources are limited, it is compelled to apply the following further restrictions on its grantmaking:

As a general rule:

  • Grant requests for the replacement of lost government support for any reason are deemed a low priority;
  • Grant requests from separate entities of the same institution/organization/agency or affiliated entities will be treated as having been submitted by a single entity, except that a university's medical unit will be treated as an entity separate from the university;
  • An entity will be eligible to receive no more than one (1) grant from the Foundation during a fiscal year of the Foundation; and
  • Support for conferences, seminars, or meetings are very limited and should be discussed with Field Foundation staff before submitting a proposal.

Guidelines for Consideration of Capital Requests

  • The Field Foundation of Illinois will consider requests for support of capital needs. Projects may include the purchase or renovation of facilities, repairs and maintenance of physical infrastructure, or (in rare cases) the purchase of major equipment. Preference will be given to organizations that consider environmentally friendly features. Certain further restrictions and criteria apply, as described below.
  • As a general rule, the Field Foundation prefers to consider capital requests after at least 50 percent of the total project costs have already been committed from other sources. [Exceptions to this are rare and should be discussed with the Foundation's Executive Director prior to submitting a proposal.]
  • The Foundation will give preference to the capital needs of smaller, community-based agencies primarily in cases where a grant from the Field Foundation will have a significant impact on the agency's ability to secure additional resources to complete the project. Such projects will be given priority over multi-year, multi-million dollar capital campaigns.
  • Capital grants will seldom exceed $50,000.
  • Requests for computer equipment will not be considered.
  • The Foundation asks that requests for support of large capital campaigns of major cultural institutions, institutions of higher education and hospitals be preceded by a formal conversation with Foundation staff so as to determine the projectís fit with the Foundations priorities. Capital requests from these organizations for the repair, maintenance or replacement of physical infrastructure that is critical to efficient program operations are a higher priority.
Grant Application Procedures

Grant applications are not provided; however, a formal proposal is required. Typically, the proposal narrative should not exceed six pages. The proposal narrative should include a brief history and background on the organization and description of the program for which support is requested, including an explanation of what the grant is expected to accomplish, how the program will be carried out and by whom, the methods and procedures which will be used to evaluate its effectiveness, the program budget and how it will be financed in total, during, and when applicable after, the proposed grant period. The proposal should be accompanied by the following:

  • A cover letter summarizing why financial aid is requested and the amount of money sought;
  • The program and total agency budgets for the applicant's current year, year-to-date financial statements along with the most recent audited financial statement, and total agency budget for the previous fiscal year;
  • A list of current project and agency funders with amounts;
  • A list of the membership of the board of directors their affiliations;
  • A racial and gender breakdown of board and staff; and,
  • A copy of the ruling or determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service showing that the applicant is exempt from Federal Income Tax, and establishing its status as a publicly supported organization.

In order to facilitate staff review, prospective grantees must include the Self-Certification Checklist.

The deadlines for submission of proposals are January 15, May 15 and September 15. If the deadline falls on a weekend the next Monday becomes the deadline. In the rare case where the deadline falls on the weekend and the next Monday is a holiday, Tuesday becomes the deadline e.g., January 15, 2012 (Sunday) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday January 16, 2012 (Monday), the deadline is then Tuesday, January 17, 2012. Regardless of day and date all proposals must be received by 5pm CST. The Foundation does not accept grant requests via email or fax. The Board meets three times per year. The grant evaluation process begins approximately four months in advance of each meeting.

It should be pointed out, however, that because of the Foundation's limited resources, it must regretfully decline support at times to worthwhile organizations. A response to all inquiries is provided as quickly as possible. If the response is negative, the Foundation staff will convey the reasons for the decline. In the event of a negative review of a complete proposal, the applicant will be notified in writing and is encouraged to discuss the reasons for the decline with the proposal's reviewer or the Foundation's Executive Director.