Strategic Grant Making Priorities

*Please see below for more information about our new Leadership Development funding priority area. Find more information about our funding guidelines HERE.

The Lake County Community Foundation asserts that the quality of life of Lake County can be improved through an earnest effort to bring organizations, government, businesses, corporations and civic leaders together to establish a common vision, adopt a shared set of measurable goals and pursue evidence-based activities that reinforce one another’s objectives as a means of addressing the most pressing needs of our community.

The Foundation envisions a county-wide health and human services delivery system that is robust and thriving with a network of providers capable of achieving the greatest impact on the urgent needs of the most vulnerable residents of the county. With an emphasis on partnership and collaboration and using innovation and organizational strength as its compass, the system will foster transformational change in communities across the county.

By proactively identifying opportunities in the community that advance its mission and remaining responsive to urgent needs, the Foundation will focus on making measurable impact on high priority issues with its limited available funding and additional resources.

The Foundation’s approach combines strategic community leadership with intentional organizational investment—ultimately leading to a more streamlined coordination of countywide efforts.

Outcomes Sought:

Over the next three years, the Foundation seeks to make a measurable impact on high priority issues in Lake County with the following desired results:

  • A more robust and collaborative nonprofit sector that leverages relationships, technology and opportunities to more effectively and efficiently serve more residents in need
  • Enhanced public-private partnerships that include government, businesses, corporations, schools, nonprofits and philanthropy working together to advance major initiatives that will have a transformational impact on our community
  • Projects and community impact influence additional investments for continuation and sustainability

1) Proactive Grant Making Strategy

* Please note that 2020 will be a rest year for the proactive strategy and the Foundation will neither invite nor accept proposals for this priority area. In 2021, the Foundation anticipates launching another multi-year initiative with a new funding focus. Applications for funding within this priority area are made by invitation only.

In 2017, the Foundation introduced a new community investment strategy that combines strategic community leadership with intentional organizational investment—ultimately leading to a more streamlined coordination of countywide efforts. In this inaugural initiative (2017-2019), grant making within this priority area encompassed a strategic focus on improving access to affordable, nutritious food in the county. Two partners, Northern Illinois Food Bank and Liberty Prairie Foundation, were selected to collaboratively streamline the food system and increase access to healthy food in underserved communities. The 2019 grant cycle marked the last round of funding for this focus area.

2) Addressing Basic Human Needs

The Foundation continues to support organizations that work collaboratively to address the most basic needs of our residents.
We believe Lake County’s basic human needs can be met when everyone has equitable access to:

  • Affordable, nutritious food
  • Affordable, comprehensive health care
  • Safe and affordable housing
  • Transportation
  • Education and workforce opportunities
  • Immigration and legal support services

The Foundation’s goal is to support work that allows people who are disproportionately affected by lack of access to obtain support in several areas of extreme need through wrap around services, continuum of care, or close collaborations with other providers. General operating grants will be prioritized for work that:

  • Supports new and innovative approaches to meet basic human needs
  • Addresses barriers to access of basic services and benefits for the most vulnerable residents of Lake County
  • Addresses otherwise unmet basic needs as the only service provider in the area

      3) Supporting Early Childhood Education

      Organizations that promote early childhood education (prenatal to age 5) are invited to apply for grants made through the Lake County Early Childhood Education Fund. This restricted fund was established in 2010 with the purpose of promoting early childhood education across Lake County, Illinois.

      Grant funds are prioritized for work that:

      • Supports new and innovative approaches to provide early childhood education
      • Addresses barriers to access of early childhood education opportunities for the most vulnerable residents of Lake County
      • Addresses otherwise unmet needs as the only service provider in the area

      4) Leadership Development —NEW

      The Foundation has identified a critical need to invest in high quality, accessible and relevant leadership development opportunities to help support Lake County’s nonprofit sector. As high capacity nonprofit leaders prepare for and enter retirement, there is an urgent need to cultivate a pipeline of talent who have the capacity and confidence to step in and lead. The Foundation is committed to investing in the future of our county’s nonprofits and their leaders through this priority area.

      Grant funds are prioritized for work that:

      • Provides leadership development opportunities that help build a pipeline of competent, emerging leaders for the county’s nonprofit sector
      • Increases access for leaders of color to quality programming
      • Builds the overall capacity of the county’s nonprofit sector

      5) Animal Welfare

      Organizations that attend to the needs of animals are invited to apply for grants made through the Lake County Humane Society Fund. 16% of this restricted fund’s spending allocation is designated for this purpose annually.

      Grant funds are prioritized for work that:

      • Supports new and innovative approaches to support animal welfare in Lake County
      • Addresses otherwise unmet needs as the only service provider in the area