VNA Foundation: Chicago Grants

OVERVIEW: The VNA Foundation is focused on underserved populations in Chicago and awards grants for home health care services, community and school based services, primary care, chronic disease management, and health promotion. Grants are awarded at four times per year and most range in size between $15,000 and $80,000 each.

FUNDING AREAS: Home based medical care, community healthcare, nursing care, dental care, underserved patients, access to care

IP TAKE: The VNA Foundation likes to make applying for a grant as straightforward as possible for grantseekers. Refreshingly, VNA is open to considering unsolicited grant inquiries and has a nice online system to send them on over.

PROFILE: The VNA Foundation focuses exclusively in the Chicago metropolitan area and is passionate about supporting nonprofit organizations that offer home-based and community-based healthcare to the region’s medically underserved. Established in 1890, it has a deep history in the city's social sector. Originally known as the Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago, it was founded as an organization that employed its own nurses and other health professionals to provide health care to the underprivileged.

However, the VNA Foundation no longer provides direct nursing services. Direct services ended in 1995, and the group transformed into a private foundation in 1998. Unlike some private, independent foundations, VNA does not actively solicit donations.

In a past year, the foundation reported nearly $49 million in total assets and more than $2.3 million in program grants paid. VNA awarded 67 grants in a recent year, and most of these ranged between $15,000 and $80,000 in size. Chicago grantees who received the largest grants were the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Thresholds, an organization that assists low-income women veterans struggling with PTSD, mental illness and sexual trauma.

VNA announced 19 new local grants a spring board meeting, including a couple grants that topped $70,000. Among these top local grantees were the PCC Community Wellness Center, Loyola University Chicago's Nurse Managed School Based Health Center, and the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. The foundation’s current special initiatives are Supporting Illinois Free and Charitable Clinics, the Anne M. Davis Mobile Health Award, and the Women Veterans Health Project.

The Chicago area counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Will, and McHenry are of particular interest to the VNA Foundation. The foundation understands that health needs are often critical and urgent, so it distributes grants at least four times annually. VNA’s staff and board also realize that some nonprofit outcomes are easier to measure than others. Examples of measurable outcomes that the foundation looks for include decreased rates of emergency room visits, decreased rates of hemoglobin levels in diabetic patients, and increases in the number of children receiving counseling after trauma.

The VNA Foundation is open to unsolicited inquires and proposal ideas, and Letters of Intent are submitted online through a Grants Management System. You can find a conveniently accessible list of quarterly deadlines for Letters of Intent and Proposals on the foundation website. Multi-year grants are rare, but not totally out of the question.

But one of our very favorite things about the VNA’s grantmaking process is that it posts model proposals that the staff and board found particularly compelling. This is a uniquely wonderful tool to learn what the foundation likes to see from prospective grantees and perhaps even model yours after these samples. Site visits are a definite possibility for granseekers looking for funding from the VNA Foundation.

General inquiries can be directed to the three-person staff at 312-214-1521 or via email at


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