Preventing and Reducing Obesity

Note: This grant program is not currently accepting proposals. This is a sample RFP from the most recent grant cycle, provided for your information. If this RFP opens again in future, some changes may be made, so you will always want to review the complete details carefully before submitting any proposal.


The Trust is seeking to support projects that will facilitate the successful implementation of system changes, including public policy or community practices that can prevent and reduce obesity for at-risk community residents.


Problem Statement/Overview

Obesity is a contributing cause of many other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer; these are some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 72 million adults are obese. Persons who are obese have medical costs that are $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, and no state has an obesity rate less than 15%—the national goal. In adults, obesity disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities; compared with whites, Blacks have 51% higher and Hispanics have 21% higher obesity rates. (Source: CDC Vital Signs (2010). Adult Obesity. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity: Atlanta, GA)

Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States. (Source: Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008) The percentage of adolescents and children who are obese tripled from 1980 to 2008. (Source: Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood) In 2008 alone, more than one-third of U.S. children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Statistics show that children and adolescents who are obese have a 70% to 80% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. (Source: Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance)

Similar to adults, childhood obesity is of particular relevance to communities of color. The rate of obese and overweight Hispanic and African-American children and adolescents ages 2-19 is 38.2% and 35.9%, respectively, while their white counterparts are at 29.3%. (Source: Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008)

Compounding the social impact of obesity, the medical care costs are staggering. According to the Society of Actuaries, the total economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States is $270 billion per year and is the result of: increased need for medical care ($127 billion); loss of worker productivity due to higher rates of death ($49 billion); loss of productivity due to disability of active workers ($43 billion); and loss of productivity due to total disability ($72 billion). (Source: Obesity and its relation to mortality and morbidity costs)


Local Impact

According to the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity, 62% of Illinois adults are overweight or obese. The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) reports that in the city of Chicago, pre-teen and teen obesity rates exceed U.S. levels. Also, trending with national data, the prevalence of obesity among Chicago children living in communities of color is significantly higher compared to Chicago children as a whole and U.S. children nationally. In addition to the social costs, our state also pays a high economic cost: in Illinois, adult obesity alone adds $3.4 billion to annual health care costs.


Reducing Obesity in Children and Adults

A number of risk factors contribute to obesity, including lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, and environmental factors. Engaging in healthy eating and regular physical activity can help lower the risk for obesity. The Nutrition and Weight Status objectives for The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 reflect strong science supporting the health benefits of eating a healthful diet and maintaining a healthy body weight. The objectives also emphasize that efforts to change diet and weight should address individual behaviors, as well as the policies and environments that support these behaviors in settings such as schools, worksites, health care organizations and communities.


Outcomes Sought

The Trust's goal is to help all of the region’s children and families eat well and move more. Funding priority will be given to work in communities with highest needs for obesity prevention efforts.

Chicago Communities Identified as 'High Risk' for Childhood Obesity
Albany Park Clearing Jefferson Park South Chicago
Archer Heights Dunning Lincoln Square South Deering
Ashburn East Garfield Park Lower West Side South Lawndale
Auburn Gresham East Side McKinley Park Uptown
Austin Edgewater Montclare Washington Heights
Avalon Park Gage Park Near West Side Washington Park
Avondale Garfield Ridge New City West Elsdon
Belmont Cragin Grand Boulevard North Lawndale West Lawn
Brighton Park Hegewisch Oakland West Pullman
Calumet Heights Hermosa Portage Park West Ridge
Chatham Humboldt Park Riverdale West Town
Chicago Lawn Irving Park Rogers Park Woodlawn

* Preliminary prevalence data on childhood obesity, pending early 2013 public release. Targeted communities have overweight prevalence rates of 40-53%

Effective strategies will include changes to public policies, school and neighborhood settings and workplace practices in ways that make our residents healthier, with a particular focus on increasing access to healthy affordable foods in combination with opportunities for physical activity. Community-based programs to change and sustain healthy lifestyles practices must show evidence of successful results.

Potential proposals could take the form of planning grants, community-based program implementation, health policy advancement or a combination of these, such as:

  • 1. Strengthening individual knowledge and increasing community education. Examples could include:
        a. Advancing community efforts that provide individuals with access to accurate, actionable health information and support life-long learning and the skills to promote good health
        b. Efforts to foster community coalitions or collaborations to improve nutrition habits and advance vigorous and regular physical activity
  • 2. Fostering public and/or private coalitions and networks to prevent or reduce obesity. Examples could include:
        a. Creating public-private collaborations to create access to healthy foods and increased physical activity in communities
        b. Increasing the availability and affordability of nutritious foods in new and existing grocery stores, neighborhood farmers’ markets and community gardens
  • 3. Influencing state and local policy and legislation to prevent or reduce obesity. Examples could include:
        a. Strategies to enhance WIC and Food Stamp programs and/or to meet the food security needs of the hungry with nutritious foods
        b. Enhancing efforts to offer children only healthy foods in schools, school environments and school-based events
        c. Enhancing community efforts to improve the availability of mechanisms for producing, distributing and purchasing foods from farms and local sources


Eligible Applicants and Projects

  • Nonprofit organizations with evidence of tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or those using a 501(c)(3) fiscal agent
  • Organizations located within and/or primarily serving residents of Cook County, except for regional, statewide or national projects or research that may benefit a substantial portion of Cook County residents
  • Organizations with a commitment to diversity and inclusion for their governance, staffing, and populations served; and explicit adherence to non-discriminatory practices in the hiring of staff or in providing services on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability
  • Organizations demonstrating a successful track record in addressing the needs of low income residents
  • Organizations demonstrating a successful track record in system change that can work effectively with public agencies, community organizations and/or the business community


Evaluation Criteria

Incomplete proposals will not be considered. Proposals for grants must answer all the basic questions about the organization and should include a narrative that responds to the questions posed in the application. Grant proposals will be evaluated, on a competitive basis, using the following criteria:

  • Clarity of project description and alignment of project activities to achieve desired outcomes with a high likelihood of success
  • Achievable timeline that corresponds to the key activities
  • Meaningful benchmarks and indicators of success
  • Innovative and effective strategies with potential for systems change
  • Organizational capacity to implement project—including staffing and leadership, operational and fiscal management
  • Established track record in the specific program area, or potential to achieve needed expertise in this program area
  • Ability to leverage financial, human and technical resources leading to greater impact
  • Ability to contribute new knowledge to the field
  • Opportunities to scale or expand proven models while maintaining local relevance, or test new approaches that, if successful, can be grown and replicated
  • Opportunities for collaborative work and bringing public and private partners together with nonprofit organizations
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the sector and its trends
  • Diversity*


*Special note on diversity and inclusion

The Trust requires all applicants to either adopt the Trust's Diversity Statement or have a similar policy adopted by their boards. The Trust believes that the diversity of our community is a fundamental strength of our region. Our mission to improve the quality of life for the residents of our region is best fulfilled when we embrace diversity as a value and a practice. We define diversity to include, but not limited to, age, disability status, economic circumstance, ethnicity, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

Additionally, the Trust asks that applicants provide demographic data on board and staff as well as clients/beneficiaries of the projects. The Trust believes that the board and staff composition of grantees should reflect the diversity and demographics of the clients/community being served, and include diversity among its leadership at the board and senior staff levels to ensure the diverse perspectives needed at the decision-making levels. For this reason, the Trust does take into consideration the demographic make-up of the board, staff and clients of a grant applicant as an important proposal evaluation criterion.


Total Awards

The Trust will make between 10 and 12 grants under this RFP. Grants generally will be in the range of $25,000 to $150,000 for each grant awarded. Successful applicants will receive grants for a minimum of one year. Please think carefully about all the aspects of the proposal project that require support, prioritize what you need and budget for those items. Budget requests will be closely analyzed and applicants should include a budget narrative that makes clear the necessity of the project's specific line items.


Application Process

Interested applicants will complete an online proposal. The deadline will be published when this RFP next opens for proposals.
     Resources to help shape your proposal:
     Slide presentation (PDF format, does not require PowerPoint)
Follow-up phone consultations and in-person meetings will be available with community foundation staff as time permits.
Review and Selection
Applicants may receive a site visit, telephone call or other communication from the Trust staff as part of the proposal review process.
The Trust's Executive Committee (board of directors) will make the final grant decision.
Evaluation, Monitoring and Learning Activities
Grant recipients will be expected to meet the Trust's requirements for the submission of financial and narrative reports, including an interim progress report and final report.
In an effort to further the overall program goals of the RFP, inform future RFPs related to this topic and contribute to larger field-building objectives, grant recipients may be asked to participate in periodic meetings to share information on project activities and best practices as well as participate in research-based evaluations.


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