The Field Foundation Of Illinois: Program Grants

The Field Foundation Of Illinois

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Grant amount: US $10,000 - US $50,000

Next anticipated deadline: May 15, 2019 9:59pm PDT (Letter of inquiry)

Later anticipated deadlines: Sep 15, 2019 9:59pm PDT (Letter of inquiry), Jan 15, 2020 9:59pm PST (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Capital Project, Education / Outreach, General Operating Expense, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Cook County, Illinois

Location of residency: Preferred: Cook County, Illinois Other eligible locations: United States

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About this funder:

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The Field Foundation Of Illinois 

Founded in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the Field Foundation is a private, independent foundation that has been dedicated to the promise of Chicago for over 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grantmaking toward the goal of community empowerment through funding nonprofits working in Justice, Art and Leadership Investment.

Vision: The Field Foundation seeks to invest in organizations working to address systemic issues in divested communities. At the center of the Field Foundation’s work is the idea of community empowerment. We want to clarify that we do not claim to “empower” the “powerless,” rather we see many of Chicago’s community-based organizations as immense sources of power that need support. We envision these “local power grids” as organizations, networks, alliances and seek to learn more about them for potential investment of our limited dollars. Community empowerment is also our personal north star. A way of asking the sector to hold us accountable for our work, and to ensure that our dollars are spent on powering specific communities.


Racial Priorities

The Field Foundation is interested in investing 60% of its portfolio in a range of community-based organizations with an emphasis on ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American) organizations throughout the Chicagoland area. ALAANA organizations can be classified in the following way: By, for, and about serving ALAANA individuals, cultures, and communities. To assess whether your organization fits into this definition, please consider the following:

  • BY: Your leadership and board are directed, managed, and/or led by majority ALAANA individuals.
  • FOR: Your organization primarily works to improve social conditions for ALAANA cultures, communities, and individuals.
  • ABOUT: Your organization’s mission references your commitment to serving ALAANA communities.

While the Field Foundation will continue to fund a range of nonprofits, we will be race explicit in our work, and focus on understanding how funding with a racial equity lens can improve outcomes for Chicagoans.

Geographic Priorities

To understand how need and race align throughout the city of Chicago, the Field Foundation created a series of maps. The maps outline a geographic study area where less than 10% of the residents are from Caucasian backgrounds, and analyze quality of life indicators such as educational outcomes, access to health insurance, commute times, violence rates, and access to arts and culture in those areas. By overlaying race with these quality of life indicators, the Field Foundation found that there is an incredible divestment of resources leading to a nexus of poverty and trauma that align with communities of color in Chicago. Using these findings in collaboration with our racial priorities, we have created the following geographic funding preferences (see diagram here):

  • Study Area – (A) Organizations located and working in these communities
  • Surrounding areas – (B) Organizations located and working in communities surrounding the heatmap area
  • Surrounding suburbs – (C) Organizations located and working in the surrounding suburbs within Justice, Art and Leadership Investment
  • Citywide Efforts and Powerhouses – (D) Organizations located outside of the heatmap but working in ways that share resources, power and funding to benefit those within the heatmap and throughout the city

Program Areas


Definition: The Field Foundation seeks to level the playing field across Chicago by using Field Foundation dollars to address the root causes of inequity, be it in community environment, health, housing or other issue areas. Rather than funding direct service, we will fund organizations working to address problems at a systemic and policy level.


  • Community organizing
  • Alliance network building and coalition support
  • Local policy/advocacy work being done by communities for communities
  • Communication-based issue reform

Goals: Build the capacity of organizations working in advocacy, justice and system change so that they can increase the visibility of critical issues and impact the root causes of those issues, with an eventual goal of creating effective systems of change and improving community conditions.


Definition: The Field Foundation seeks to create an art-centric city where each community has a robust investment in creativity and local cultural activities and artists. We want to focus our dollars on supporting creative spaces inside chronically divested communities to spark cultural identity, creative expression and cultural connections. Preference will be given to community-based organizations who are deeply entrenched in community work. “Art” will remain an open and evolving term allowing us to learn through our funding of creative enterprises.


  • Community-based art organizations within the heat map
  • Nonprofit organizations supporting artists from and/or working within our heat maps
  • Community defined forms of art, creative expression, and creative production happening within nonprofit spaces

Goals: Expand creative production in divested areas of Chicago by investing in a range of art forms in specific neighborhoods and advancing the capacity of emerging artists in Chicago. This support will create safe “third spaces” for creative production, foster community bonds, and increase access to cultural experiences within Chicago communities. The eventual goal is supporting community identity through the arts while advancing hubs of creativity and innovation in divested neighborhoods of Chicago.

Leadership Investment

Definition: The Field Foundation seeks to recognize, honor, and support the deep bench of visionary leaders across Chicago by creating the “Field Leader” award. These awards are aimed at promoting visionaries across Chicago by building their social capital, skillsets, networks and exposure. By creating a Field Leader network, we aim to act as a connector, supporter, and investor in leaders who have the potential to transform Chicago. 

  • Existing Justice and/or Art Grantees: The Field Foundation will identify leaders working at existing grantee organizations to apply for a Field Leader award. The application process is by invitation only and the selection process will happen annually. Award recipients will be granted $25,000 to use as they determine in the application process.
  • Leadership Development Organizations: Organizations focused on leadership development may apply to the Field Foundation for funding to cover the costs of nonprofit leaders working in the realms of Justice or Art to attend their leadership programs. The organization must apply on behalf of preselected program recipients allowing Field Foundation to weigh in on the final recipient. Individuals are not eligible to apply on their own behalf.

Goals: Increase individual leadership capacity by supporting leaders and their organizations. Strengthen connections between rising and existing leaders across communities by growing leaders’ networks and social capital. Utilize a risk learning strategy to discover what successful leaders need by giving leaders the room and capital to discover their most productive self; with an eventual goal of racially diversifying and thereby strengthening civic leadership in Chicago.

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


  • As a general rule
    • The Field Foundation of Illinois can only offer funding to 501(c)(3) organizations.
      • While a 501(c)(3) designation is preferred, the organization may on occasion partner with a 501(c)(3) as its fiscal agent. 
    • Support for capital grants should be discussed with Field Foundation staff before submitting a proposal.
    • The Field Foundation only provides support for direct service for the arts.
  • The Foundation supports institutions and agencies primarily serving the people of Chicago.
    • Our funding breakdown by community can be found here.


  • A for profit organization cannot apply for a grant. 
  • The foundation does not make grants to individuals.