Grant Overview

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

The Chicago Community Trust awards competitive grants three times each year to organizations making an impact within one of our issue areas. We also partner with supporting organizations that retain their unique identity through independent grant making. Our Fellowship program offers professional development opportunities for both emerging and experienced leaders.

Who is Eligible?

The Trust considers applications from organizations whose work is consistent with its program goals and outcomes.

  • Eligibility Requirements

    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. Our grants management staff verifies the nonprofit status of all applicant nonprofits and fiscal sponsors using Guidestar.

    Each grant opportunity will have its own additional criteria for funding, which you will find in the Request for Proposals or application template.

  • 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.


Get started with the application process that meets your needs.

  • GrantCentral

    Grant update: A release date for the next competitive grant cycle has not yet been determined. Following the October announcement of our new strategic plan, we will post detailed information and instructions for all grant processes. This information will be sent to all nonprofit partners who have registered in GrantCentral.

    GrantCentral is the Trust’s online grants management system. By creating an account, you can research grant opportunities, apply to receive funds, view grant payments and submit final reports. Sign in or register now to get started.

  • Partnerships and Initiatives

    You can apply for almost all of the Trust’s funding opportunities right in GrantCentral. Please see the initiative’s own website to apply for grants from:

    Pillars Fund

    Springboard Foundation

  • Fellowships and Scholarships

    For The Chicago Community Trust Fellowship, apply here.

    For the Searle Scholars Program, apply through the program’s website at

    For the Monash/Scott Scholarship Medical Student Scholarship Program, apply through the National Medical Fellowships website at

    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 Linda Reasons at

  • Help and Contact

    For assistance with your grant proposal, please contact

    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’ sole discretion, supporting their own philanthropic causes. There is no application process, and donor advised funds are not open to requests for funding.

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funded By:Chicago Community Trust Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust
funded By:Nuestro Futuro
funded By:Nuestro Futuro
funded By:Nuestro Futuro