W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation: Grants for Chicago

OVERVIEW: The Stone Foundation supports education, youth, and early childhood nonprofits in Chicago, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, youth development, early childhood development, scholarships

IP TAKE: This funder doesn't accept unsolicited proposals, but nor is its door completely shut to would-be new grantees. 

PROFILE: Established in 1958, the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of W. Clement Stone, who was a Chicago native born in 1902 who grew up selling newspapers and insurance policies. In the 1980s, his successful Combined Insurance Company of America grew into what’s now the multi-million-dollar Aon Corporation. Today, the Stone Foundation aims to provide “the educational and developmental opportunities that support equitable outcomes and enable all children and young people to fulfill their potential.” The foundation focuses grantmaking on education, youth development, and early childhood development.

Stone’s education program focuses heavily on teacher quality and principal leadership, which are popular funding causes in Chicago. The foundation believes that managerial and analytical talent is deeply needed in urban schools. These are Stone’s specified “levers of change”: recruitment, preparation, induction and retention of teachers and principals; the creation of meaningful career pathways for teachers; professional development that is sustained over time and maintains a focus on evidence of student learning; and the managerial talent that supports teachers and principals. The youth development program at Stone is aimed at giving youth a voice and listening to their perspectives. Low-income and underserved youth between the ages of 10 to 24 are the target, here, and most grants go to youth media, youth organizing and youth-led advocacy groups. The early childhood development program supports initiatives and policies that benefit kids between ages zero to eight. Stone typically supports programs that promote literacy by the end of third grade, quality early education leadership, and public awareness. 

Many past grants have been between $50,000 and $150,000. View past grant awards by funding category and year on the funder’s website. Although the foundation is based in Chicago and much of the grantmaking is focused here, Stone also awards grants in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Philadelphia and Boston. In addition to these three grantmaking areas, Stone also offers some scholarship support.

This foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. The Stone staff reaches out to nonprofits of interest for preliminary conversations. There are typically two grant cycles per year, in the late spring and early fall. From initial contact to grant receipt, grantees can expect to wait between six months and a year. Grantseekers can reach out to the staff with general questions at info@wcstonefnd.org or 800-288-4859.


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