The Chicago Community Trust’s Identity-Focus Funds

There are two million Latinos living in the Chicago metropolitan area, making up about 22 percent of its population, and Latinos are gaining more influence in Chicago's politics, culture, and economy. Philanthropy has played a role. To empower organizations that are run by Latinos and that benefit local Latinos, the Chicago Community Trust (CCT) established the Latino Giving Circle (LGC) in 2006.

Some new funding opportunities just opened up in the Latino Giving Circle, which is a donor-advised CCT fund that encourages individuals to pool their charitable dollars to increase the resources available to Latino communities. The geographical focus of the program does not extend beyond metropolitan Chicago. However, eligibility is broad, and funding can go toward Latino progress in education, immigration, healthcare, or even legal services.

This year, the LGC will award $15,000 in grants to three organizations that serve Latino Communities in the city. Each $5,000 grant will support capacity building projects aimed at strategic planning, financial management, and outreach. To be eligible for a grant, your nonprofit must be both Latino-led and Latino-serving. You’ll also need to have an annual organizational budget of $1.5 million or less, how both established and emerging nonprofits are on equal footing.

CCT has nearly a dozen grantmaking program focus areas, meaning that this foundation covers pretty much every inch of the local philanthropy spectrum (Read Chicago Community Trust: Chicago Grants). As a community foundation, CCT encourages donors to make a difference through unrestricted contributions, identity-focused funds (like LGC), and donor-advised funds. Unlike the other two ways to give, identity-focused funds are groups of donors who share a common heritage and want to support that heritage exclusively. In Chicago, identity-focused funds exist not only for Latino nonprofits, but also Latino children under five, African Americans, Asians, Muslims, and young professionals between 25 and 45.

Grants made through identity-focused funds tend to be smaller in size than those made through CCT’s competitive grantmaking programs; however, these funding sources are often overlooked. Although the application processes are quite similar, identity-focused grants tend to be quicker and easier to apply for. Keep in mind that site visits are common for these types of grants. For more information on each of CCT’s heritage-based funding groups, check out the foundation’s Giving Groups page. Check this page regularly, because the cultural groups are independent of one another and open up their application cycles during different times of the year.

You can apply for one of the Latino Giving Circle’s $5,000 grants by submitting a proposal and supporting documentation before 5:00 pm on June 23rd. Proposals should be emailed to, and questions can be directed to Nicole Mitchell, Associate Manager of Development, at 312-616-8000 ext. 157.