grants philosophy and process

The Evanston Community Foundation’s grants are selected to support our mission of ensuring that Evanston is a vibrant, inclusive, and just community.

our principles

  • We focus on equity.
  • We listen first.
  • We understand sustainability is critical to growth.
  • Our leadership will always be in service to the community.

grantmaking philosophy

We make investments in organizations and projects that are poised to make a difference in the community by strengthening nonprofit organizations and their programs. Responding to a broad range of community opportunities and needs, we request proposals that show promise of strengthening the community beyond the grant period.
• We seek to make Evanston an equitable community for all residents.
• We strengthen the capacity of organizations to achieve long-term results.
• We encourage collaborative proposals that build and develop community resources and partnerships.
• We look to invest in work that will be self-sustaining after the funding period.

what is capacity building?

Capacity building is organizational initiatives that focus on building infrastructure to support an organization’s long-term growth and development to better fulfill its mission (e.g. strategic plans, board development, staff development, technology upgrades, revenue-generating staff positions).

what organizations can apply for grants?

Any group or organization providing services to Evanston residents may apply for a grant. Responsive, root2fruit, and Rolling grants are open to all organizations meeting their guidelines. Communityworks, Community Catalyst, and Partners for the Future grants are by invitation only. Applicants are either 501(c)(3) organizations, schools, or government entities or groups who have a fiscal sponsor that qualifies as a tax-exempt organization under Sec. 501(3)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All proposals must address issues, concerns, or opportunities in the Evanston community.

discuss proposal ideas

The ECF program staff is available to discuss proposal ideas. While not a formal, or required part of an application process, potential applicants are encouraged to meet with ECF staff. During an open application cycle, specific office hours will be offered for application related discussions.

grants review process

Each proposal submitted to the Evanston Community Foundation is carefully screened and reviewed by a committee specific to that grant cycle. The responsive and rolling grants committees are made up primarily of ECF board members, with some community representatives. The root2fruit advisory board consists of experienced nonprofit staff and board leaders, with backgrounds in management and development, along with ECF board members.

In each cycle, committee members read and review each grant proposal. Proposals are rated based on criteria specific to that cycle’s guidelines. The committee then meets to discuss their assessment of proposals and determine the proposals that best meet those guidelines and are the best investments of the Foundation’s resources. In the root2fruit cycle, a group of finalists is selected to be interviewed by the root2fruit advisory board before a final selection of grantees is made.

Grants committees present their recommendations to the ECF Board for its approval.