Polk Bros. Foundation Grants

Polk Bros. Foundation

Suggest an update

Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Applied Project / Program, Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: Cook County, Illinois

Location of residency: Cook County, Illinois

View website    Save Need help writing this grant?

About this funder:



NOTE: Applications are accepted year-round, scheduled in the order in which they are received, and considered at quarterly board meetings in February, May, August and November. We generally recommend completing your two-phase application three to four months prior to the date of the board meeting.

Polk Bros. Foundation Grants

The Polk Bros. Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for the people of Chicago. We partner with local nonprofit organizations that work to reduce the impact of poverty and provide area residents with better access to quality education, preventive health care and basic human services. Through our grantmaking, we strive to make Chicago a place where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

The Foundation also has a small grants program that makes grants of up to $25,000 to organizations with limited funding histories and annual expenses of $75,000 - $500,000. The application process for small grants is the same as for the larger board grants.

Our Focus

Polk Bros. Foundation’s primary focus is support for efforts that address poverty’s complex roots and devastating effects, and which benefit populations of need in disinvested Chicago communities. Very few awards are made to organizations located outside the city of Chicago.

Grants are made for both new and ongoing initiatives in six program categories: strong communities, strong families, education, health, arts access and learning, and enhanced capacity. In all areas, proposals should address increased access to services, systems-level change and improvement in the quality of life for area residents.

What We Fund

By working together across neighborhoods and issues and sectors, Chicagoans are helping make our city a place where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Championing these efforts is our focus.

Strong Communities

To strengthen Chicago and its neighborhoods, we support efforts focused on workforce development, housing, community and economic development, legal services, and safe communities.

Strong Families

To strengthen families and their support networks across Chicago, we invest in efforts that promote healthy relationships and youth development and offer equitable access to holistic services.


To ensure all Chicago public school students are prepared for success in college, in their careers, and in life, we invest in school improvement and student academic success.


To improve the health outcomes of Chicagoans, especially those affected by poverty, we support efforts that expand access to school-based and community-based preventive and primary health care.

Arts Access and Learning

To increase Chicago public school students' access to the learning opportunities that come from deep participation in the arts, we support school-based arts education programs and community-based arts instruction for youth.

Enhanced Capacity

To help our grantees — and the systems in which they operate — thrive, we support capacity building at the organization level and at the sector level.

Strategic Collaborations

To achieve greater impact, we often join forces with our colleagues in philanthropy, nonprofits and the public and private sectors.


The Foundation also has a small grants program that makes grants of up to $25,000 to organizations with limited funding histories and annual expenses of between $75,000 and $500,000. Organizations can generally receive up to five consecutive grants through the small grants program.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Applicants to Polk Bros. Foundation must have received a 501(c)(3) ruling from the Internal Revenue Service or, in rare cases, apply under the fiscal sponsorship of an organization that has one.
  • Eligibility checklist:
    • the organization currently has 501(c)3 status or a fiscal sponsor
    • the organization operates in / serves Chicago
    • the organization had actual cash expenses of at least $75,000, not including in-kind expenses, during the most recent or current fiscal year
    • the organization has been in operation for at least one year
    • the organization has completed a 990 tax return or audit for the previous fiscal year


  • The Foundation does not consider more than one request from an organization or its affiliates in a 12-month period, nor does it generally fund more than 8 percent of an organization’s operating budget.
  • Please note that if an interim executive director is in place, we may defer consideration of the organization’s proposal until a permanent replacement has been hired.
  • The Polk Bros. Foundation will not support:
    • Organizations that devote a substantial portion of their activities to attempting to influence legislation or to participating in campaigns on behalf of candidates for public office
    • Religious institutions seeking support for programs whose participants are restricted by religious affiliation or whose services promote a particular creed
    • Purchase of fundraising dinner or raffle tickets or advertising in dinner/gala programs
    • Medical, scientific or academic research
    • Grants to individuals
    • Tax-generating entities (including municipalities, school districts or individual schools) for services within their normal responsibilities