Working to improve quality of life, promote community vitality and achieve a fair society.


How to Apply

The Joyce Foundation accepts grant inquiries throughout the year. Applicants should anticipate the application process to take approximately four to six months from the initial submission of the letter of inquiry to the receipt of funding.

letter_of_Inquiry Initial_Review recommendation board_action

When applying for financial support, grant seekers can expect a four-step application process:

  1. Letters of Inquiry: The applicant submits a two- to three-page letter of inquiry to the appropriate program officer six to eight weeks before the proposal deadline.

  2. Initial Review: The program officer reviews the letter of inquiry and determines whether or not the project fits within the Foundation's guidelines.

    • If the project does not fit within the guidelines, the program officer writes to the applicant declining the proposal.

    • If the project does fit within the guidelines, the program officer may invite the applicant to submit a full proposal.

  3. Review and Recommendation: Once the program officer receives the full proposal, an internal review process begins.

    • If the proposal is not recommended for funding, the program officer sends the applicant a decline letter.

    • If the proposal is recommended for funding, the program officer prepares a recommendation for consideration by the Joyce Foundation's Board of Directors.

  4. Board Action: The Joyce Foundation Board of Directors meets and votes on recommended grants.

    • If the proposal is not approved for funding, a letter is sent declining the proposed grant.

    • If the proposal is approved for funding, the program officer sends a grant contract to grantee.

Grant payments are normally made at the end of the month following the board meeting at which the funding decision was made.

Letters of Inquiry

Before submitting a formal proposal to the Foundation, prospective applicants should write a two- or three-page letter of inquiry outlining the proposed project to the appropriate program officer. The letter should describe the goals of the project, how it relates to the Foundation's interests, the target audience and beneficiaries, the estimated budget and duration, and plans for evaluation and dissemination of findings.

Letters of inquiry should be submitted at least six to eight weeks prior to the proposal deadline for a given grant cycle. Program officers endeavor to respond in a timely manner and to advance all grant proposals expeditiously. However, program officers have discretion in scheduling review of a proposal.

Formal Proposals

The proposal should include the following information:

  • Application cover sheet;

  • Executive summary or overview (1-2 pages) that includes why this project is important, relevant, etc.;  

  • Information on the project for which funding is requested, including the issue to be addressed, how the proposed project would address it, and plans for implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of findings;  

  • Description of the organization, including its background, purpose, objectives, and experience in the area for which funds are sought;  

  • Itemized project budget with narrative, current and pending funding sources, amount of funds requested from Joyce, the proposed use, and the time period over which funds will be expended;  

  • Names and qualifications of people involved in the project;  

  • Board members, their titles, outside affiliations, and telephone numbers;  

  • Organizational expenses and income for previous, current, and coming fiscal year;  

  • Audited financial statements and Internal Revenue Service Form 990 plus attachments for the most recently completed fiscal year;  

  • Internal Revenue Service verification that the organization is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization and qualifies as a public charity as defined in IRS Code section 509 (a)(1), (2), or (3). A copy of the IRS tax-exempt determination letter must accompany the proposal.

Electronic copies of grant proposal narratives and budgets should be sent to Microsoft Word documents are preferred. If you wish, feel free to copy your program officer.


The Joyce Foundation 321 North Clark Street, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60654
Phone: (312) 782-2464  |  Fax: (312) 595-1350

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