The Community Foundation issues grants from both its general fund and its special funds. The general fund, which must also support the operation of the Foundation (e.g.: insurance, post office box), is somewhat limited. Grants from the general fund are usually $500 or less. Among the special funds, many of the donor-defined funds — especially the scholarship funds — have their own methods for issuing grants; for those funds, the information on this page does not apply.
How To Apply For A Grant
The Community Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that functions as both a fund-raising and grant-making foundation. These guidelines are to assist the grant applicant in submitting an effective proposal that can be reviewed and acted upon by the Foundation. These guidelines apply equally to requests for grants from outside agencies and to requests from the Foundation’s own activity committees.
Note that, when the policies of the Board of Trustees — including the policy on Grants and the Grants Committee — conflict with these guidelines, the policies shall prevail.
- Grant requests will generally be considered only from agencies operating within or serving the residents of Oak Park. Exceptions are made for donor-defined funds whose specific policies provide for not restricting grants to Oak Park.
- The Board of Trustees has identified the following categories in which unmet needs exist:
- the environment,
- cultural programs, and
- social services.
Grants for projects in other categories will be considered.
- The Community Foundation was established under directions to give special priority to services to the youth of the community. That remains our priority. However, grants for other projects will also be considered.
- Some special funds of the Community Foundation were established with policies that provide explicit exceptions to the above criteria. However, no such exceptions exist for any of the following criteria.
- Grants will be issued only to non-profit organizations that, when hiring staff and providing services, comply with the Community Foundation’s policy “Non-Discrimination”.
- Grants cannot be made to the following:
- individual persons;
- political campaigns or activities, including campaigns for or against ballot propositions;
- building campaigns;
- religious purposes;
- businesses, however organized, including proprietorships, partnerships, and for-profit corporations;
- organizations based outside the United States;
- to pay existing debts or replenish fiscal resources used to pay debts; or
- any purpose inappropriate for a public-benefit, tax-exempt charity.
The officers of the Community Foundation are individually authorized to summarily reject any grant request for any of the above prohibited purposes without submitting the request to the Grants Committee.
- A grant cannot be made for the sole purpose of buying publicity. The Community Foundation does not purchase advertisements in any media. However, the purchase of publicity as a minor expense within a larger, grant-eligible project is permitted; this expense will be evaluated as part of the project’s budget as presented in the application.
Submission and Processing:
- Proposals must be submitted with the approved Community Foundation grant application form, to the attention of the Grants Committee.
- After submission, lobbying of any trustee or member of the Grants Committee will result in rejection of the request. Any contact from the submitter should be directed only to the president of the Community Foundation, except for contacts initiated by the Grants Committee or by an authorized trustee.
- Submitters should be aware that the Foundation operates entirely with volunteers and is therefore not organized to respond to emergency requests.
- Proposals and applications will be reviewed by the Grants Committee for appropriateness of the request and compliance with Community Foundation policies. To ensure efficient processing of a proposal, the submitter must designate a knowledgeable person who can be contacted by the Grants Committee to obtain clarification of the proposal. The Grants Committee, which might meet only quarterly, will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
- The Board of Trustees, which generally meets only quarterly, will review the Grants Committee’s recommendation and vote to approve or deny the grant. If the Board of Trustees approves the grant, the approved amount might be changed from what was requested. The Board of Trustees may also impose conditions on a grant (e.g.: making it a “challenge grant” that requires the submitter to raise matching funds from other sources).
- Approved grants will be paid at a time that minimizes the impact on the Community Foundation’s cash flow.