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e-town innovation grants

At the Evanston Community Foundation, we invest in great ideas and the people bringing them to life through our E-Town Innovation Grants. We want to support organizations to be bold and innovative in solving today’s challenges, particularly as we all work to reimagine a more equitable Evanston in a post-COVID world.

This grant program began in 2021. Download the E-Town Innovations Grant Guidelines, also listed below.  


These grants are focused on supporting new or expanded innovative programs that:

  • Prioritize equitable opportunities and outcomes for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC)
  • Support organizations working together to solve community challenges and change systems
  • Embrace creative solutions that address community needs in ways that are more effective, equitable, or sustainable than standard approaches

funding priorities

We want Evanston to thrive as a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable community. We fund projects that:

  • Focus on advancing equity, in particular racial equity and intersectionality
  • Meaningfully engage key stakeholders to identify problems and include those directly affected by those problems
  • Are collaborative in nature

We fund projects that develop new ideas, expand or improve on existing work, or contribute to disrupting systems that exclude community members. A committee made up of Evanston residents decides the projects we fund.

how to apply

All application materials must be submitted through GLM. Applications may be submitted at any time throughout the grant schedule. The grants committee will make funding decisions approximately one month after proposal submission. View the Calendar for application dates. If you need access to a computer or assistance submitting online email ECF staff.

who can apply

Any group or organization providing services to Evanston residents can apply for a grant. All proposals must address issues, concerns, or opportunities in the Evanston community. Additionally, applicants must fit in one of the following categories:

  • 501(c)(3) organization
  • Local school districts or a government entity
  • A project that has a fiscal sponsor that qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization
  • A for-profit organization, 501(c)(6) organization, or faith-based organization doing charitable work benefitting the general Evanston community

New applicants, current grantees, former grantees, or previous applicants to any ECF grants program are eligible to apply. While your organization is only eligible for one E-Town Innovation grant per 12 month period, your organization may apply for other ECF grants during the same year.

funding parameters

  • Grant amounts range from $2,500 – $20,000. Proposals should have a project budget appropriate to the scope of the project. 
  • Grant period will be for a 12-month period. 
  • Please note: these grants do not fund endowments, fundraising events or sponsorship of events, appeals for religious purposes (though faith-based organizations may apply for projects benefitting the general community), or individuals.

what the committee considers

Below are the main areas the committee of community members considers when deciding funding:

Evanston Service

  • Project focus, serving Evanston
  • # of people served and intensiveness of services
  • Organization awareness and understanding of similar local projects

Plan and Impact

  • Project plan
  • Project impact on systems that have historically excluded community members


  • Advancement of racial equity
  • Systems change that creates more opportunities and equitable outcomes for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color

Community voice

  • Role of community voices
  • Key stakeholders + their involvement  
  • Project’s inclusiveness and collaboration


  • Strength of collaborations, if applicable
  • Roles of collaborative partners

Clarity of proposal

  • Clarity of proposal
  • Intended outcomes and plan to reach them 


  • Appropriateness of project budget and use of resources
  • Organizational capacity

application materials

All applications — and their respective questions and materials — are accessible through our GLM online grants system. Documents to submit include:

  • Total operating budget for current and prior fiscal years including revenue sources (if you have it)
  • A project budget using the provided form, including the total cost of project and sources of other funding received to date
  • Page 1 ONLY of two most recent 990s (for your organization or fiscal sponsor, unless your organization is brand new)
  • A brief budget narrative to address any significant variances in the annual operating budget or actuals (if needed only)
  • Letters of support from any partners you are collaborating with on this project
  • Overview of Board and staff demographics

Please note: For all narrative questions, tell us briefly and directly about your idea, those you will serve, and why your group is the best fit to make the project happen. Do not worry about phrasing things just right. 

application questions

All applications — and their respective questions and materials — are accessible through our online grants system. 

  1. What is your organization’s mission and scope of work?
  2. What is the need or challenge your organization is designed to meet?
  3. What assets outside of your organization, if any, exist in Evanston to meet this need or challenge?
  4. What population are you serving? What percentage are Evanston residents? What are the demographics of the Evanston residents you plan to serve through this project? If you don’t collect that information, please make your best estimate. 
  5. What is your idea and what problem does it solve?
  6. Please tell us how the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color are an integral part of your organization's overall decision-making processes. How do you engage program participants in determining your current and future programming? How will you strive to ensure access and break down barriers of participation? 
  7. What is your plan? How will you bring it to life? What is your anticipated timetable?
  8. How will your idea be transformative? How will it advance equity in Evanston? What will indicate a successful outcome?
  9. Is this project an effort that brings people, organizations, government, and/or businesses together to tackle a shared issue, reach a shared goal, or test a new idea? Planning grants for new strategic alliances are eligible.
  10. We are committed to advancing racial equity. Please attach a roster of board members orgoverning body, including name, race, gender identity, and city of residence. If working with a fiscal sponsor, please upload your group's leadership list (e.g. taskforce, steering committee, advisory board, etc.).
  11. What percentage of people in staff leadership identify as a person of color?