Polk Brothers Foundation: Grants for Greater Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Polk Brothers Foundation largely focuses its attention on public education, poverty, and medical care institutions that have proven track records of success in the Chicago metropolitan area.

FOCUS AREAS: Strong communities, strong families, education, health, arts access and learning, enhanced capacity, strategic collaborations

IP TAKE: Although the foundation's focus areas seem pretty general, they are actually very specific upon taking a closer look. Pitch a program that aligns with Polk's pointed objectives and be prepared to stay in touch in the years ahead.

PROFILE: Established in 1988, the Polk Brothers Foundation exists because of decades of success in the family's retail furniture and appliance stores. Since it was established, the foundation has been run by family members to reduce the impact of poverty and provide Chicago residents with quality education, preventive medicine, and basic human services. The foundation's endowment increased when all the family stores closed in 1992, and the assets have been on the rise ever since. The foundation is “working to make Chicago a place where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.” Grantmaking focus areas are strong communities, strong families, education, health, arts access and learning, enhanced capacity, and strategic collaborations.

The foundation’s strong community grants go towards making neighborhoods safe and thriving. Strong family grants strengthen Chicago families and networks. Education grants focus on Chicago public schools. Health grants support Chicagoans affected by poverty, and arts grants support increased access to the arts and increasing learning opportunities that come through the arts. Finally, enhanced capacity grants strengthen local nonprofits, and the foundation also engages in strategic collaborations with other funders.

Many grants are around $250,000 each. Learn about past grantees in the funder’s online grants database. The foundation invests at least $25 million in Chicago each year. It also supports over 400 grantees that impact Chicago annually. The funder is very focused on Chicago and reaches all neighborhoods of the city.

The foundation accepts unsolicited grant requests within its funding priorities, and the process starts with an eligibility quiz. From there, grantseekers can complete an online application. There are no deadlines for applications, as it accepts requests year-around. For general inquiries, grantseekers can reach the foundation staff at 312-527-4684 or info@polkbrosfdn.org.


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