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.
The Foundation’s Community and Economic Development grantmaking aims to help create and sustain vital, economically integrated neighborhoods and to increase opportunity for low-income individuals and families. By working in a mix of Chicago neighborhoods, the main goal is to produce measurable improvements in such quality of life indicators as income diversity, employment, public safety, and commercial vitality and to develop new knowledge about effective responses to neighborhood social and economic decline.
Since 2003, the core of the Foundation’s work in this area 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). The current phase of MacArthur’s investment in the New Communities Program is strategic support to a smaller number of communities that offer promise to make large gains on specific indicators of qualify of life in the near-term, thereby offering a proof of concept or a “test of the model” of comprehensive community revitalization.
The Foundation is also developing complementary system-level initiatives to reduce youth violence, strengthen employment as a way to promote positive neighborhood effects, promote economic development, and use technology to improve services and civic engagement. In each of these efforts the goal is to produce measurable improvements in neighborhood-level quality of life indicators.
What MacArthur Funds
With Foundation funding and other resources, the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) implements the centerpiece of MacArthur’s grantmaking strategy — a comprehensive initiative called the New Communities Program that LISC operates in 23 Chicago communities. LISC uses MacArthur and other funds to provide long-term, general operating, and project support to local organizations to plan and carry out projects to improve the quality of life in these neighborhoods.
The Foundation also support a small number of organizations to work across neighborhoods and at a systems level to reduce violence, take advantage of new technology and available data, promote economic development, and help a sufficient number of recently unemployed individuals regain jobs and help turn around negative neighborhood effects—and to document and evaluate the New Communities Program and related activities. A modest amount of funding is provided to innovative responses to the foreclosure crisis in New Communities Program neighborhoods.
The Foundation also is a member of Living Cities, a collaborative of 22 of the nation's largest foundations and financial institutions that works to improve the lives of low-income people and the urban areas in which they live. In addition, 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. With the exception of support for the national organizations, funding is limited to Chicago.
More information about the New Communities Program can be found at www.newcommunities.org.
At this time, the Foundation is accepting proposals for projects that rigorously test youth violence prevention activities. Read more about our violence prevention strategy here. 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.
The Foundation 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 October 12, 2012