Strategic Grant Making Priorities

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.

Now in its 15th year of giving and impact in Lake County, the Foundation has established a new approach that 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) Access to Affordable, Nutritious Food 

(* Applications for funding to support access to affordable, nutritious food will be made available by invitation only.)

Food Insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

In Lake County, Illinois an estimated 68,650 individuals struggle with food insecurity . Of this population, children, seniors, African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately affected by lack of access to affordable, nutritious food. A number of communities across the county have school districts where more than 50% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. In the communities of North Chicago and Zion, the eligibility is as high as 85% and 90% respectively . Additionally, the nation’s current political climate has spurred significant concern regarding the stability of essential state and federal nutrition programs including:

  • Senior Nutrition Programs
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs (NSLP)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Healthy eating helps prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure and can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes .

The Foundation welcomes funding requests that will strategically support the coordination of a comprehensive local food system. Grant funds will be prioritized for organizations that have the capacity to:

  • Coordinate existing local efforts
  • Inform local food policy
  • Promote and support local, sustainable food production

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

The Foundation is seeking to support projects that align with these priorities and will improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable residents of Lake County.

    1. Hunger in America 2014 – Special Report for Lake County, Illinois
    2. National School Lunch Program Eligibility
    3. Live Well Lake County – Community Health Improvement Plan 2016-2021 Strategic Issue 3

3) 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

4) 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