MacArthur Foundation: Chicago Grants: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The MacArthur Foundation funds locally in Chicago in the areas of strong organizations, civic partnerships, vital communities, and influential leaders.

FUNDING AREAS: Strong organizations, civic partnerships, vital communities, influential leaders

IP TAKE: This is a huge national and international nonprofit charitable foundation but focus on the Chicago commitment portion of its website. Diversity and civic culture are top priorities here.

PROFILE: Wealthy real estate and insurance businessman, John D. MacArthur, developed the MacArthur Foundation, which is the largest of its kind in Chicago. During their lifetimes, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur were quiet philanthropists. Foundation grantmaking began in 1978 after John MacArthur died of cancer, and MacArthur makes grants and loans through many programs today. The funder “creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.” Grantmaking areas of interest in Chicago specifically are strong organizations, civic partnerships, vital communities, and influential leaders.

Local Chicago grantmaking focuses on helping the city embrace its diverse neighborhoods, build a strong civic culture, and perpetuate Chicago’s reputation as a creative hub and global city. It supports local arts and culture in the city with multi-year, unrestricted grants. It also gives to support civic partnerships among nonprofit, government, and philanthropic organizations. Community support goes to strengthen the economic and social vitality of the city, and leadership grants support advancing equity and diversity in local leadership.

MacArthur grants often range from $25,000 to several million dollars. Review the funder’s online grants database to learn about past grantees. MacArthur doesn’t limit its giving to the Chicagoland area. The foundation works in about 50 countries and works substantially in Africa, Asia, India, Latin America, Mexico, and Nigeria too. However, the funder has a designed Chicago program that is fully centered on local giving.

In general, the foundation does not fund many unsolicited grant applications, but it will consider them occasionally. Organizations in Chicago may apply for select loan funds. Review the Chicago Commitment Grantmaking Guidelines for the most up-to-date information. Grantseekers may contact the Chicago headquarters staff at or by calling 312-726-8000.


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