Chicago Commitment Grantmaking Guidelines

Community Capital Grants

Community Capital Grants provide organizations with funds to strengthen their operating and programmatic foundations. Awards recognize an organization’s track record or promise, connection to communities, and commitment to peer learning and support. As in all elements of the Chicago Commitment strategy, we seek to advance equity and access to opportunity, and foster conditions that recognize and promote people of color in leadership positions.

Type of Support Available

Possible uses may include:

  • Operating (or cash) reserve
  • Board reserve fund
  • Endowment
  • Innovation seed fund
  • Strategic and/or financial planning
  • Technology upgrades
  • Leadership development
  • Development planning
  • Communications support
  • Back-office collaboration
  • Consulting assistance 

Size and Duration of Awards:

Awards for innovation may represent a one-time infusion of capital, while grants for strength and growth typically provide support for two to four years in an amount that does not exceed 10 percent of the organization’s annual operating budget, with a maximum of $250,000 per year.

Guidelines for Community Capital Grants


In 2018 and possibly beyond, we anticipate awarding Community Capital Grants to organizations whose work increases safety, peace, and justice in Chicago communities. Specifically, awards will support organizations that pursue community-led safety initiatives; expand street-level interventions and violence interruption; offer cognitive-behavioral therapy to residents in the most highly affected communities; create jobs throughout areas of the city with low-employment rates; provide essential leadership or advocate for constructive change; or evaluate progress and success.  Activities should typically be based on evidence. Because not all successful or promising approaches have been rigorously evaluated, programs that pilot or test new or innovative approaches may also be supported.  

Selection Process

We anticipate considering Community Capital Grants in a single cycle each year. MacArthur staff will nominate organizations as potential Community Capital grantees. The Chicago Commitment team will seek additional input on nominees from an external review panel of experts. We will then invite organizations selected through this process to submit proposals. These requests will be considered by MacArthur staff, with final decisions made by the Foundation’s leadership. Additional details about eligible organizations and types of work will be released annually.

In the future, we may consider other opportunities to identify applicants, such as outreach to organizations in a particular field, followed by submission of a letter of inquiry, review by an independent advisory committee, and final selection by the Foundation.

Foundation staff are eager to learn about organizations that have not previously received support. We welcome organizations to submit ideas for support through the Foundation’s portal. 

While fundamental, lasting change will take years to accomplish, we believe that strengthening organizations this way will help achieve short-term goals while making steady progress toward safety, peace, and justice throughout the city. This focus complements the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, our civic partnership to prevent violence and improve police-community relations. 

From time to time, we will invite applications for Community Capital Grants to organizations working in other important areas of concern.  

Additional Types of Support

In order to expand the opportunities for grantees to learn and grow, we will also offer the following types of assistance:

  • Convene groups of grantees in regular peer learning and networking sessions
  • Include organizational leaders in the Influential Leader area of work
  • Offer organizations additional assistance in financial management; staff, leadership, and board development; and strategic planning, communications, and other forms of technical support.  

Measurement & Evaluation for Learning

Information about monitoring and evaluation will be available in the coming months.