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 five place-based initiatives each year, with support for up to four years. Our top priority is to support collaborations 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.  

We will also support promising ideas, nascent place-based initiatives, and innovative approaches. In addition, we will consider new efforts created by seasoned community development organizations. The goal is for project leaders to develop their work to the point that support can be sought from other funders and investors. 

 

Infrastructure Support Organizations


Over decades, our support for neighborhood initiatives has underscored the value of investments in local and regional infrastructure support organizations that, in turn, provide organizational development support to individual neighborhood efforts. The forms of organizational development support may include planning, management, policy research, evaluation, data analysis, or other services offered to groups working at the community or regional level. We have also learned that it is cost-effective to spread the expense of these forms of support across many neighborhood efforts. As such, we will continue to provide strategic support each year to a selection of these organizations, while exploring opportunities with other funders to provide coordinated support to the field.

 

What We Fund

For place-based initiative awards, we support:

  • Collaborations 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. 

For infrastructure support organizations, we support:

  • Entities that conduct planning, management, policy research, evaluation, data analysis, or other forms of organizational development support to groups working at the community or regional level.

Application Process

Initiatives and organizations that wish to be considered as placed-based initiatives or infrastructure support organizations may submit a brief description of their work through our grants portal.

In addition, we are eager to learn about initiatives and organizations 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

To augment the MacArthur staff's knowledge of placed-based funding opportunities, from time-to-time we will invite civic and community leaders with broad and varied knowledge to nominate established and emerging place-based initiatives from across the region. The nominators, who may not recommend organizations with which they are affiliated, serve to broaden our knowledge of the range of local investment opportunities. While this process will produce more nominations than we can support in a single year, it is designed to bring place-based initiatives not known to us to our attention. We will narrow the pool of nominees, applying the criteria, to award grants to up to five place-based initiatives each year. Initiatives and organizations that wish to be considered for support may "self-nominate" by submitting a brief description of their work through our grants portal.

We will invite applicants 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.

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.
Check out our social media content in one place, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.