How to apply

Interested in applying? Complete the Prospective Applicant Eligibility Quiz to help you determine if your organization and/or project meets the basic funding requirements. If yes, please send in the Letter of Inquiry that best fits your program/organizations’ needs.


Primary cycle deadlines: Fall 2016

Letter of Inquiry: Monday, August 8, 2016 by 5:00pm

Letter of Inquiry Form Fall 2016 - FINAL

Full Proposal (renewal) By invitation

Letter of Inquiry - Strategic Response Fund (Word doc)
Letter of Inquiry - Health Series  (Word doc)
Letter of Inquiry - Enterprise Fund (Word doc)



CFW offers grantmaking orientations to prospective applicants. If your organization would like to learn more about the grantmaking process at CFW, please attend:

Friday, July 8, 2016 at 10:00am
CFW office: 140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60603 

Monday, July 11 at 3:00pm
Gary Comer Youth Center
7200 South Ingleside Ave.

Tuesday, July 12 at 3pm

To attend, please RSVP to Lora York at

The Foundation considers most grants proposals during one of two grantmaking cycles, in spring and fall. These cycles are called "primary" grant cycles. Submissions to the Foundation's three issue areas-economic security, freedom from violence, and health-are accepted as follows:

Spring Cycle
Freedom from Violence

Fall Cycle
Economic Security

Ongoing Small Grant Opportunities

Enterprise Fund
Based on our commitment to nurturing innovative efforts and to supporting smart collaborations, we have established The Enterprise Fund. The Enterprise Fund is specifically designed to meet the next wave of economic, social and educational challenges facing women and girls by recognizing that not all programs and ideas need to be housed in separate, unique organizations. Through the Fund, applicant organizations have the support to consider a range of organizational structures and pathways to collaborative programming. From combining complementary ideas to co-locating services to formally joining with a nonprofit partner, the Enterprise Fund allows organizations the flexibility to consider new iterations of their work.

Strategic Response Fund
The Strategic Response Fund allows the Foundation to provide immediate support for projects that are outside of the Foundation’s spring and fall grant cycles. Grants of up to $7,500 are awarded
on a rolling basis to local organizations addressing critical issues and concerns of women and girls. These grants are intended to be small, discrete, and timely. Thus, grants from this pool
are “exceptional” and out of the ordinary course of business. This fund is competitive, and an organization is limited to one Strategic Response Fund grant per year.

Eva Janzen Powell and Smith T. Powell Health Series
As a part of Chicago Foundation for Women’s effort to enhance access to health services and information for underserved and uninsured women and girls, the Foundation will provide funding to host public outreach symposiums through the Eva Janzen Powell and Smith T. Powell Health Series. Each symposium will highlight a unique issue or health concern facing low-income women and women of color.

Submissions for sponsorship support should include the following: an emphasis on education and prevention; a combination of local and national health experts; an anticipated audience of 50 -100 participants; plans to host the event in communities impacted by the symposium topic.

Chicago Foundation for Women uses a community-led grantmaking process to review and recommend grants awarded during the fall and spring grant cycles.

  • Chicago Foundation for Women’s Community-led Grantmaking Subcommittee provides leadership and guidance for the Foundation’s grantmaking process.
  • The subcommittee is led by a chair and vice chair and consists of around thirty to forty members, including Foundation board members, community volunteers and staff.
  • Members review proposals, conduct site visits of applicant organizations, and make recommendations for funding to the Foundation Board.

The Foundation Board of Directors reviews all recommendations and approves all grant awards.

Final decisions on applications for the Fall Cycle will be made at the December Board of Directors’ meeting. Final decisions on applications for the Spring Cycle will be made at June Board of Directors' meeting.

Grants are made from the Strategic Response Fund, the Eva Janzen Powell and Smith T. Powell Health Series and the Enterprise Fund throughout the year.

Chicago Foundation for Women welcomes questions from applicants at any point before, during, and after the application process. Please contact Lora York, program officer, at or (312)577-2814.