Community Grants

Community Grants are made in six Focus Areas: Arts & Humanities, Education, Health, Human Services, Sustainable Communities, and Youth & Families. Within Education, CFNIL’s strategy is to invest in after-school programs and career pathways initiatives, and build a regional education system that continually develops healthy and productive citizens. This strategy, called Education Works, supports projects, programs, and events that provide education for employment.

CFNIL will accept applications for Community Grants from August 24 to October 1, 2017. To learn more about the upcoming cycle, attend our Grantseekers Meeting on August 24 at Memorial Hall (211 N. Main Street in Rockford).

Grant Guidelines
Application Questions
Grant Report

Eligibility & What We Fund

To be eligible to apply for funding from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, an applicant must be a:

  • 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
  • Religious organization, unit of government, or public university/college

The proposals must describe charitable activities that primarily, but not exclusively, benefit the residents of Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, or Winnebago Counties. Proposals requesting more than $75,000 will be evaluated for their alignment with Education Works.

CFNIL will:

  • Fund expenses that are directly related to the design and implementation of a proposal. Income and expenses related to the proposal must be itemized using CFNIL’s Budget Template:
  • Fund the purchase and installation of capital assets (i.e., assets that have a useful life greater than one year and which will be depreciated on the applicant’s books) to the extent that they support a proposal’s activity.
  • Fund wages for staff or contractors to the extent that the request is appropriate to the proposal’s scope and implementation.
  • Fund indirect costs to the extent that they are identifiable and allocable to a proposed project, program, or event.  Indirect costs may not exceed 15% of a total proposal budget. Examples of indirect expenses include: accounting, audit, business, and legal fees; computer network costs; depreciation; insurance; rent; telephone; and utilities.

CFNIL will not fund proposals requesting funding for general operations; budget deficits; individuals; for-profit organizations; partisan political activities; or proposals that discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national/ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran’s status, disability, or any other factor prohibited by applicable law.

Grant Requirements


  • Must be in active service to the public for at least one year prior to applying. 501(c)(3) organizations must have received the I.R.S. designation at least one year prior to applying.
  • Must be current on all interim and final reports for grants from CFNIL. If the organization is currently being funded with a CFNIL grant and a final report is not yet due, the organization must submit an interim report. (
  • If working with a school district, must submit a Pre-Authorization Form from the district describing the extent of the partnership. (
  • Can submit multiple, unique proposals, but may not submit the same proposal to different Focus Areas.
  • Can receive funding for a single charitable activity no more than three times in a five year period.

Focus Areas

Community Grants offers funding in six focus areas:

1. Arts & Humanities

Funding priorities are for those proposals that:

  • Increase the availability and access to artistic and cultural experiences, especially those that represent the diversity of our community’s culture.
  • Celebrate the region’s history and preserve historical integrity.

2. Education

Funding priorities are for those proposals that:

  • Provide creative and systemic approaches to educational improvement
  • Support the education of current and future medical professionals
  • Fit under CFNIL’s Education Works grant strategy

3. Health

Funding priorities are for those proposals that:

  • Improve the quality of and access to health services
  • Support wellness
  • Conduct research to promote the health and well-being of our community

4. Human Services

CFNIL funding priorities are for those proposals that:

  • Serve the basic needs of individuals and families
  • Provide services to persons with disabilities, especially those that promote inclusion

5. Sustainable Development

CFNIL funding priorities are for those proposals that:

  • Promote neighborhood and economic development
  • Support efforts to ensure safety and access to quality, affordable housing
  • Preserve our natural environment, especially those projects that increase the region’s understanding and appreciation of the environment

6. Youth & Families

CFNIL funding priorities are for those proposals that:

  • Provide pathways to self-sufficiency
  • Strengthen families
  • Support intellectual, emotional, physical, and social development

Multi-Year Grants

An organization can only apply for multi-year funding, for:

  • Education Works (see page three),
  • Medical education (see Education Focus Area, page two), or
  • Medical research (see Health Focus Area, page tw0).

Requests for multi-year funding for proposals that do not align with one of these areas will not be considered.

Types of Proposals

Application questions will vary depending on the type of proposal submitted:

  • Event – Choose “event” if the duration of the charitable activity described in the proposal is less than a week. (E.g., a weekend-long concert or a one-day neighborhood block party.)
  • Project – Choose “project” if the duration of the charitable activity described in the proposal has a beginning and ending date, and lasts between one week and three years. (E.g., a summer-long camp or a two-year archiving initiative.
  • Program – Choose “program” if the duration of the charitable activity described in the proposal is ongoing. (E.g., a year-round health facility. All proposals related to educational activities that occur annually, like after-school or summer-school programs, should be included here.)

Measuring Results

While evaluating grants, CFNIL reviewers want to know who is applying, how they will put a plan into action, and what that plan will accomplish. In the Measuring Results section of the application (formerly called Outcomes), CFNIL reviewers need the clearest possible description of projected quantitative results in order to meaningfully evaluate your application. To see examples of Measuring Results, please visit The following is a list of key terms from the Measuring Results section of CFNIL’s application:

  • Result: The change or improvement that a charitable activity is intended to produce.
  • Indicators of Success: The data collected to show evidence of a change as a result of the proposed activity.
  • Targets: A number or percentage of the Indicators of Success that defines your desired achievement.
  • Methods for Measurement: How you will collect the data that shows evidence of change.
  • Benchmarks: A point of reference against which your results will be compared.

Proposal Review Guidelines

CFNIL is committed to a fair and objective proposal review process.

Volunteer advisors from the community review and recommend grant proposals for approval by the CFNIL Board of Trustees.  CFNIL Trustees, volunteer advisors, and staff adhere to carefully considered conflict of interest and confidentiality policies throughout the review and approval process.  Due to the volume of proposals considered, CFNIL cannot routinely meet with grant applicants as a part of the review process.  CFNIL may meet with any applicant when a review committee has determined that a meeting or a site visit will facilitate the review process.

Grant award decisions are final. CFNIL Trustees, volunteer advisors, and staff are prohibited from discussing the details of committee deliberations with any grant applicant. To learn more about CFNIL’s proposal review process, visit:

Grant Cycle

Fall 2016 Grant Cycle:

  • August 25 – Application opens
  • October 3 at 5 p.m. – Grant Deadline
  • Late December – Awards announced and funds distributed

Online Application


The online application must be received on or before 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date.  Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.


How to Register & Apply

Apply Now


Contact James Patterson

+1 (779) 210-8201

 Email James

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