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Grant Applicant?
Get information about applying for a Polk Bros. Foundation Grant

Grant Applicant

Application Procedure

Due to the economic downturn and our commitment to funding existing grantees, the Foundation will consider very few proposals from organizations that have not previously received Foundation support.

If your organization is new to the Polk Bros. Foundation or has not received a grant from the Foundation in the last five years, please review our Program Area Guides before submitting a pre-application form. The Foundation will respond within 30 days.

If your organization is a current grantee or has received a grant from the Polk Bros. Foundation within the last five years, a pre-application is not necessary. You may call or email the Foundation to request an application packet. The application form, together with the supporting materials it requests, constitutes the application for a grant. A site visit or interview may be scheduled by a program officer as part of the review process.

There are no deadlines for the submission of proposals to the Polk Bros. Foundation. Applications are accepted year-round, scheduled in the order in which they are received, and considered at quarterly board meetings in February, May, August and November. We generally recommend submitting a proposal three to four months prior to the date of the board meeting. You should be aware that proposals for health-related services are not reviewed at the August board meeting.

The Foundation also has a small grants program that makes grants of up to $25,000 to organizations with limited funding histories and annual expenses of $75,000 - $500,000. The application process for small grants is the same as for the larger board grants.

Applicants to the Polk Bros. Foundation must have received a 501(c)(3) ruling from the Internal Revenue Service. The Foundation will not consider more than one request from an organization or its affiliates in a 12-month period, nor will it generally fund more than eight percent of an organizationís operating budget.

Please note that if an interim executive director is in place, we may defer consideration of the organizationís proposal until a permanent replacement has been hired.

For additional information, please see the list of frequently asked questions.

The Polk Bros. Foundation will not support:

  • » Organizations that devote a substantial portion of their activities to attempting to influence legislation or to participating in campaigns on behalf of candidates for public office;
  • » Religious institutions seeking support for programs whose participants are restricted by religious affiliation or whose services promote a particular creed;
  • » Purchase of dinner or raffle tickets or advertising in dinner programs;
  • » Medical, scientific, or academic research;
  • » Grants to individuals;
  • » Tax-generating entities (municipalities, school districts, etc.) for services within their normal responsibilities.


A pre-application may be submitted if the grant-seeking organization:

  • Ľ is located in the city of Chicago
  • » has been in operation for at least one year
  • » has at least one paid staff person
  • » has 501c(3) non-profit status (or a fiscal agent with same)
  • » has completed a 990 tax return or audit for the previous fiscal year
  • » had actual cash expenses of at least $75,000, not including in-kind expenses, during the previous fiscal year; and
  • » received two or more grants of at least $2,500 each from private foundations or corporations during the most recent and/or current fiscal year.

All of the above conditions must be met. ††For additional information, please see the list of frequently asked questions, or contact us at or (312) 527-4684.