Community & Economic Development Grant Guidelines

Understand guideline and funding cycles

MacArthur publishes program guidelines to help applicants determine whether their idea for a grant fits within a particular grantmaking strategy.

As a general rule, applicants should base this decision on three related criteria that appear in program guidelines: the topical focus addressed by the grantmaking strategy; the geographic area covered by the grantmaking strategy; and, finally, the type of funding (i.e., general operating support, research, program support, etc.) that supports the grantmaking strategy.

Like most strategic grantmaking foundations, the MacArthur Foundation considers funding only those applications that closely match the topical, geographic, and funding criteria for a specific grantmaking strategy.


MacArthur has a longstanding commitment to Chicago’s neighborhoods, and the health and vitality of the city and region as a whole. The Foundation supports comprehensive neighborhood revitalization, efforts to reduce and prevent youth violence, and ways to use information technologies to improve the functioning of government, strengthen the social sector, and enhance opportunity and quality of life.

We are also exploring new ways of understanding and addressing the complex and interconnected challenges faced by cities around the world, from violence to climate change, and how to plan, manage, and govern to address them. The Foundation’s exploration of a potential investment strategy focused on cities builds on decades of grantmaking in urban strategy and community and economic development in Chicago and the United States.

Questions about this grantmaking area can be addressed to Director of Community and Economic Development Craig Howard, or Program Officers Maurice Classen, Alaina Harkness, and Mijo Vodopic.

What MacArthur Funds

Since 2003, a pillar of the Foundation’s work in Chicago has been investment in the New Communities Program, a comprehensive effort to improve the quality of life in a significant number of Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods and the signature project of the Chicago office of a national community development intermediary, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). MacArthur continues to fund evaluations that provide valuable learning from this program, and provides ongoing support for LISC’s work to provide resources to strengthen the management capacity of lead and partner agencies and seed funding for pilot and program development activities.

MacArthur also invests in Chicago-focused efforts to reduce youth violence and to use information technologies to improve quality of life. The Foundation also funds a small number of national organizations that help advance the community development field, bring new knowledge and best practices to Chicago, and translate the Chicago experience to a broad audience.

At this time, the Foundation is accepting proposals for projects that rigorously test youth violence prevention activities. In general, projects are identified through staff deliberation and consultation with community development practitioners and other experts in the field. Those interested in suggesting a project in the area of violence prevention should submit a letter of inquiry to the Foundation.

MacArthur is not currently accepting proposals for other strategies in community and economic development at this time. The Foundation will make an announcement when funding is available in these areas.


Updated April 4, 2014