Dunham Fund Grant

Dunham Fund

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Grant amount: Up to US $1,000,000

Next deadline: Jun 1, 2020 (Letter of inquiry)

Later deadlines: Nov 1, 2020 (Full proposal), Feb 1, 2021 (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program, Education / Outreach, Capital Project

Location of project: Counties in Illinois: DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County

Location of residency: Preferred: Counties in Illinois: DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County Other eligible locations: Illinois

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About this funder:



NOTE: We accept grant requests through online submissions at any time during the calendar year  for grant requests that are $50,000 or less.

Established by John C. Dunham in 1996 . . . funded in 2007 in accordance with the provisions of Mr. Dunham’s trust . . . and nurtured during the intervening years by Mr. Dunham and a board of personally appointed advisors, the Dunham Fund honors Mr. Dunham’s life and philanthropy through grants to Aurora, Illinois area organizations that have the vision and programs to help fulfill Mr. Dunham’s dream of “making the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind to live and prosper.”

The Dunham Fund seeks grant applications from organizations that — like Mr. Dunham — encourage innovation and collaboration in educational and community development programs and projects to effect positive change in the Dunham Fund service area.


The mission of the Dunham Fund is to honor the legacy of John C. Dunham. In that spirit, the Fund supports organizations that work to make the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind to live and prosper, giving special consideration to Aurora area organizations engaged in providing education and to organizations engaged in assisting individuals to attain heights they may not have attained without the benefit of such assistance.

The Dunham Fund’s Grantmaking Goal

The Dunham Fund’s primary grantmaking goal is to measurably and permanently impact the Dunham Fund service area through support of new or uniquely enhanced educational and community development programs and capital projects that address a documented need. These programs and capital projects must be innovative, collaborative and potentially self-sustaining, while being purposefully designed to effect positive change through close alignment with the missions of the grant seeking organization and the Dunham Fund.

Proposed programs and projects should address a documented need and be innovative, collaborative, and potentially self-sustaining. They should be purposefully designed to effect positive change through close alignment with the missions of the grant seeking organization and the Dunham Fund. Those grant proposals that closely adhere to these grant making goals and to the grant guidelines and application procedures are most likely to be considered for and receive funding.

Grantmaking Areas of Interest


Because education is one of the keys to providing individuals with the long term capability to help themselves, Dunham Fund primarily focuses on education within formal academic settings such as licensed early childhood education, K-12, college, and graduate school, including STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics and Science) education, workforce development, and other accredited professional certifications. 

Community Development

As a working definition, the Dunham Fund describes community development as the expansion of infrastructure, capital, resources, human capital or aggregate capability available to the community on a long term basis that provides support for stronger social or economic interaction and performance. Ultimately, a more capable community will provide a more comfortable, safer place to live and prosper.

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


  • The Fund accepts grant requests from 501(c)(3) organizations that are involved in education and community development programs — the building blocks that will, in founder John Dunham’s words, “make the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind.”


  • In accordance with the terms of John C. Dunham’s Trust, the Fund gives preference to applicants located within Kane, DuPage and Kendall Counties — more specifically, the geography bounded on the north by Illinois State Route 38 and on the south by U.S. Route 34; on the east by Illinois State Route 59 and on the west by Illinois State Route 47. This geographic area is referred to as the “Aurora Area” in Fund literature and applications.
    • Grant applicants outside the service area may also be considered if the project can demonstrate significant impact within the Dunham Fund's service area. 
  • The Dunham Fund encourages the participation of others in funding projects, and on occasion provides matching funds and challenge grants in an attempt to stimulate increased response from other sources. 
  • Dunham Fund prefers to provide one-time, startup funding for new or uniquely enhanced educational or community development programs and capital projects. The Fund has, however, also provided support for already established innovative and collaborative program enhancements and service and capital expansion. 


  • Grants from the Dunham Fund are generally not made: 
    • For organizations not based or having substantial operations in the State of Illinois 
    • To organizations that are not current with federal, state and local regulatory obligations 
    • For programs and projects that don’t significantly  impact the Dunham Fund service area. Example: At least 25% of the organization’s participants in the proposed Dunham Fund grant program or project must reside or receive services in the Fund’s service area or a capital project must substantially benefit the service area. 
    • For projects that duplicate existing services
    • For any purpose that discriminates as to race, creed, sex, or ethnic group 
    • To fund contingency funds, reserves or endowments 
    • To fund general operations or ongoing, permanent funding for existing or previously Dunham funded programs 
    • To fund religious organizations or governmental entities 
    • For the payment of interest or taxes
    • To cover deficit spending or a shortfall in other funding sources 
    • For obligations previously incurred
    • To purchase benefit tickets, respond to telephone solicitation or national fundraising efforts