Crown Family Philanthropies: Chicago Grants

OVERVIEW: The Crown Family Philanthropies favor Jewish causes but also fund a wide range of education, arts, environmental, and human services organizations throughout the Chicago area. The foundation does accept unsolicited letters of inquiry, and its website details a simple process to follow.

IP TAKE: Although Crown spreads its grants around among community and arts causes each year, a vast majority of the grants are awarded to Jewish organizations. If you're not running a Jewish organization, make sure your proposal serves underprivileged youth in one way or another.

PROFILE: With humble beginnings, founders Arie and Ida Crown emigrated from Eastern Europe to Chicago in hopes of a better life for their children. Their company, Material Service Corporation, ended up being one of the most successful corporations in America, and the Crown family has been giving to local causes ever since. Crown's current program areas include arts, civic affairs, environment, education, health, human services, and Jewish causes. The Crown Family Philanthropies was known as the Arie and Ida Crown Memorial until 2009, but the foundation's objectives have remained constant.

The Crowns have granted funds to homeless causes like Inspiration Corporation, music programs like the Merit School of Music, and educational resources like Urban Prep Academies. At the end of a recent year, the foundation reported over $877 million in assets and more than $38 million in total giving. Both assets and giving has been on the rise lately.

Don't bother asking Crown for funding for individuals, associations, coalitions, film, video, exhibitions, or conferences. The foundation is also pretty strict about sticking to its education, arts, poverty, and medical objectives. Within the arts category, you can submit a broad proposal for everything from dance to literary arts, music, theater, visual arts, and cultural organizations. The civic affairs program involves both civil discourse and civil leadership.

There are three educational categories that aim to boost promising schools, leadership programs, and holistic education support. Although the environment program budget usually isn't as large as the others, your Chicago-based program will need to focus on Great Lakes preservation, climate change, or energy conservation. The Chicago health program addresses both access to care and prevention, and the human services program is all about community safety and economic stability. Most Jewish program proposals have a good shot at being considered. Crown honors Jewish community and education leaders with Covenant Awards each year; past recipients received $36,000 each and $5,000 for their affiliate institutions. 

To apply for a grant with Crown Family Philanthropies, you'll need an eye for detail. Crown's program officers require you to complete a four-step grant application program. Education submissions are reviewed in the spring, and arts & culture and civic affairs submissions in the fall. Crown's environment, international health, and Israel grantmaking programs are by invitation only.


Each program category has its own set of deadlines, so check the Grant Cycle Timeline for frequent updates. You'll rarely have to wait more than six weeks to get a response to your letter of inquiry and receive an invitation to submit a formal proposal. General inquiries can be submitted via online form or handled by phone at 312-750-6671.


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