Joyce Foundation: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Joyce Foundation has adopted a strong racial equity and economic mobility focus with its grantmaking. Causes supported are the environment, gun violence prevention, criminal justice reform, and culture.

FOCUS AREAS: Culture, democracy, education and economic mobility, environment, gun violence prevention and justice reform

IP TAKE: Focus proposals on mobilizing children and teens of color in Chicago. Joyce is looking to the future, and this is it. 

PROFILE: Established in 1948, the Joyce Foundation is the foundation of the sole heir of the Joyce family, Beatrice Joyce Kean, and the foundation's purpose is to benefit the Great Lakes region. It is one of the largest foundations in Chicago. The family's wealth came from timberlands, sawmills, and building-material distribution facilities in the Midwest, Louisiana, and Texas. The funder aims to advance “racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.” Grantmaking areas of interest are culture, democracy, education and economic mobility, environment, and gun violence prevention and justice reform.

The big focus for this funder is racial equality and economic mobility. The foundation believes that the Great Lakes region's future success is tied to the success of young people of color who live here. Education and economic groups often receive the most support, especially ones that target low-income students of colors who attend K-12 schools. Overall, Chicago organizations should focus education grant proposal supports the K-12 demographic. Nonprofits submitting an employment-related proposal should consider including provisions for women on welfare and ex-offenders. Grantseekers may want to address the energy crisis in environmental proposals and lessening the influence of big money in political campaigns in democracy-related proposals. Culture proposals should be for arts groups of color, and gun violence prevention proposals should defend existing gun laws rather than make guns more accessible.

Foundation grants are often between $100,000 and $500,000. View a list of past grantees in the funder’s grants database. Nonprofits from Chicago, Downstate Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are considered for grants. As a general rule, Joyce will not fund grants for individuals, religious activities, political campaigns, scholarships, commercial ventures, or capital proposals.

The Joyce Foundation accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry from nonprofits. This is followed by a formal proposal and review process. Email letters of inquiry with supplemental materials to six to eight weeks before the next proposal deadline. Direct general questions to the staff at 312-782-2464 or


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