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Program Area Guides

The primary focus of the Foundation is on critical services and programs that impact populations of need particularly public school children and their families in underserved Chicago communities. Priority is given to long-term, intensive work with clients. Very few awards are made to organizations located outside the city of Chicago. Grants are made for both new and ongoing initiatives that improve the quality of life and increase access to services for Chicago residents.

To illuminate the Foundation's preferences within particular funding areas, we have developed guides that identify our theory of change, describe strategies we support and list evaluation criteria that we use during the proposal review process. These guides may be accessed by clicking on the funding areas highlighted below.

Strong Communities, the Foundation's largest area of funding, has five focus areas designed to promote thriving, safe communities with quality jobs, housing, legal services, and economic activity. Grants are made in workforce development, housing and homelessness prevention services, community safety programs that address the prevention and reduction of community violence and promote restorative justice practices, legal services, and community and economic development programs that stimulate job creation and financial stability.

Within our Strong Families focus area, the Foundation supports programs that promote positive youth development and resilient families and help break the cycle of family violence.

The Foundation's Education grant-making supports programs that prepare students for long-term success in school, college and careers. Our continuing commitment to education focuses on building students' skills in core academic subjects and improving schools by strengthening the skills of Chicago public school principals, teachers and parents and by fostering a learning climate in which all students can succeed.

The Foundation's grants for Arts Access and Learning programs are designed to provide access to the learning opportunities that come from a deep participation in the arts. Support is provided for school-based arts education programs in Chicago public schools, with priority given to programs that include teacher training. We also support community-based arts instruction for youth in music, art, dance and theater.

The Foundation's support for Health programs reflects a continuing commitment to prevention and access to care. Grants focus on community-based health services and the delivery of health services in school-based settings.

Finally, awards are made for Enhanced Capacity initiatives that build the organizational capacity of our grantees through training and technical assistance and strengthen the sectors in which our nonprofit partners operate.

Click here, for an overview of the Foundation's grantmaking taxonomy.