eligibility requirements and grant guidelines

To apply for an Impact Grants Chicago grant, an organization must:

  • Be classified as a “Public Charity” with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code for a minimum of 36 months prior to applying for the grant.
  • Be headquartered and operate in the city of Chicago.
  • Provide the majority of the services in the city of Chicago.
  • Independently file an IRS Form 990 (unless exempt by federal law).
  • Report total revenues for the last full fiscal year between $650,000 and $8 million in the most recent 990. If exempt from filing 990, must meet revenue requirement in the audit.
  • Be independently and separately audited. If your nonprofit is a subsidiary or a consolidated affiliate of another entity, the audit must reflect the financials (statement of activities and balance sheet) of the organization applying for the grant.
  • Use the full amount of the grant within 24 months.

Further eligibility determination is at the discretion of the Board of Directors.

Please note: Previous recipients of a $100,000 Impact Grant may not apply for a period of three years after the grant was awarded.

Unsure of your organization’s eligibility? Use this simple tool for an initial eligibility check.

Eligibility Tool

What Impact Grants Chicago Funds

  • Projects or programs that address an identifiable need within the organization or served population.
  • Projects or programs that have a high impact on the organization and the community it serves. These may include new, existing or expansions of existing projects or programs.
  • Projects may include capital expenditures or improvements, funding of program expenses, or a combination thereof.

What Impact Grants Chicago Does Not Fund

  • Capital projects to property that are:
    • not owned by the applicant as of the Full Grant Application due date;
    • leased under a lease not in effect as of the Full Grant Application due date; or
    • leased under a lease with less than five years remaining on the lease as of June 1 of the Impact Grants Award year.
  • Projects involving acquisition of real estate
  • Debt reduction
  • Pass-through grants
  • Interim or bridge funding
  • Fundraising activities or events
  • Endowments
  • Private Foundations
  • Partisan, legislative, or political activities
  • Fraternal, sectarian, religious and other organizations where the grant is intended for the principal benefit of the organization's own members or adherents or where the grant is intended for inherently religious activities or participation in religious activities is required as a component of the program.

Focus Areas

Impact Grants Chicago asks organizations to indicate a primary Focus Area. You will be asked in the application to select the focus area that best describes your services. Your choice of focus area does not influence the review of your LOI.

  • Culture: Projects or programs that develop, cultivate or enhance the cultural and artistic climate; or explore and educate others about the arts, cultural heritage and diversity in Chicago.
  • Education: Projects or programs that advance or improve learning opportunities for children and/or adults, including job training, in Chicago.
  • Family: Projects or programs that strengthen and enhance the lives of children and families in Chicago.
  • Health: Projects or programs that improve the physical and/or mental well-being of people living in Chicago.
  • Sustainability: Projects or programs that promote a positive and sustainable relationship between humans and their environment or help neighborhoods thrive by promoting healthy food systems through community gardening, urban agriculture or other activities in Chicago.