Vital Communities Grant Guidelines

  

Overview

We have supported neighborhood revitalization in the Chicago metropolitan area since our founding. We have learned important lessons from four decades of investing in constructive community change—for example, the importance of investments in not only individual programs and projects, but also in the strength of neighborhoods. We find that when local partners work together across areas of interest, organizations significantly increase positive outcomes in areas such as youth programming and violence prevention, affordable housing and commercial development, and foreclosure prevention and mitigation.

Criteria

Place-Based Initiatives


We will make awards to four to five place-based initiatives each year, with support for up to four years. Our top priority is to support collaborative efforts that mobilize a range of local partners and resources in pursuit of broad community, population, and/or market impact. We will consider initiatives that work across neighborhoods, suburbs, or larger geographies or that address a single substantive focus at scale. In the future, we may consider a cluster of complementary awards to similar initiatives.  

 

Promising New Ventures


We will support promising ideas, nascent place-based initiatives, and innovative approaches. We will also consider new efforts created by seasoned community development organizations. Grants are for one year and do not constitute a promise of continued support. The goal is for project leaders to develop their work to the point that support can be sought from other funders and investors. 

 

Field Support Organizations


Over decades, our support for neighborhood initiatives has underscored the value of investments in local and regional field support organizations that, in turn, provide technical support to individual neighborhood efforts. The forms of technical assistance may include planning and building organizational effectiveness, as well as policy research, evaluation, data collection and management, and information support. We have learned that it is cost-effective to spread the expense of this support and technical assistance across many neighborhood efforts. As such, we will continue to provide strategic support each year to a selection of these organizations. Because our resources are limited, we will explore opportunities with other funders to provide coordinated support to the field. 

What We Fund

Place-Based Initiative awards support the following:

  • Collaborative efforts that mobilize a range of local partners and resources in pursuit of broad community, population, and/or market impact are our top priority.
  • Initiatives that work across neighborhoods, suburbs, or larger geographies or that address a single substantive focus at scale will be considered. 
  • In the future, we may consider a cluster of complementary awards to similar initiatives. 

Application Process

Initiatives and organizations that wish to be considered for support may submit a brief description of their work through our grants portal.

In addition, we are eager to learn about initiatives and that have not previously received support, as well as new ideas from prior grant recipients. We welcome organizations to submit ideas for support through our grants portal. 

Selection Process

In 2018 and possibly beyond, MacArthur staff and a group of civic and community leaders with broad and varied knowledge nominated local place-based initiatives and promising opportunities across the region. The nominators serve to broaden our understanding of the range of local investment opportunities. This process will produce more nominations than we can support in a single year. It will also bring to our attention effective place-based initiatives, that may not have been previously supported by the Foundation. Applying the criteria, we will review the nominated initiatives, and narrow the pool to approximately 4-5 each year.

We will invite organizations selected through this process to submit proposals. MacArthur staff will consider these requests, with final decisions made by the Foundation. 

In the future, the selection process may change to ensure that we can consider even more possibilities.

Initiatives and organizations that wish to be considered for support may submit a brief description of their work through our grants portal.

In addition, we are eager to learn about initiatives that have not previously received support, as well as new ideas from prior grant recipients. We welcome organizations to submit ideas for support through our grants portal. 


Grant Guidelines for the Promising New Ventures and Field Support Organizations will be posted later this year.


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