General Guidelines

The Joyce Foundation invests in policies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.


What is the mission of the Joyce Foundation?

The Joyce Foundation invests in policies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

What does the Foundation mean by investing in “policies”?

The Foundation seeks through its grantmaking to improve public policy in, and for the benefit of residents in, the Great Lakes region. Foundation grantees help improve public policy through a range of efforts detailed on the Foundation’s Policy Continuum.

Those efforts include:

  • research and analysis;
  • policy development;
  • communications, media outreach and public engagement strategy;
  • policy advocacy;
  • coalition and constituency building and grass-roots organizing;
  • implementation and enforcement; and
  • evaluation.

Does the Foundation fund lobbying activity?

No. Federal tax law prohibits private foundations from funding lobbying activities. As mentioned above, the Foundation may support organizations engaged in public policy advocacy by, for example, providing general operating support or funding educational advocacy such as nonpartisan research, technical assistance, or examinations of broad social issues. To ensure compliance with federal tax laws, we encourage grant applicants to describe the nature of advocacy activities in their grant applications and reports. For further information, grant applicants can view our Advocacy Rules page which includes Lobbying and Advocacy Dos and Don’ts for Grantees.

The Foundation’s mission references goals of “racial equity,” “economic mobility,” and “the next generation.” Can the Foundation offer more detail on how it defines those goals and the role they each play in grantmaking?

Through its grantmaking and other policy-focused efforts, the Foundation seeks to:

  • Racial Equity: Incorporate the voices of, and achieve more equitable outcomes for, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities in the Great Lakes region.
  • Economic Mobility: Improve the ability of individuals in the Great Lakes region to move up the economic ladder within a lifetime or from one generation to the next.
  • Next Generation: Incorporate the voices of, and improve outcomes for, the next generation of Great Lakes residents, defined as young people born after 2000.

Must an applicant’s funding request address all three goals—racial equity, economic mobility, and the next generation—in order to be funded?

The Foundation is deeply committed to the advancement of these three goals in the Great Lakes region. We therefore strongly encourage and prefer funding requests that articulate the advancement of one or more of the goals. We recognize, though, there may be instances where a project could improve the lives of residents in the Great Lakes region without direct advancement of one or more of these goals. Such a project may be considered for funding.

How does the Foundation define the Great Lakes region?

The Foundation funds efforts to address state and local public policy in the Great Lakes region, which we define as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin; and national public policy designed to have impact on these Great Lakes states. In addition, individual programs may have specific geographic priorities for funding. Please refer to the program-specific guidelines section below for more information.

Are there types of projects the Foundation typically does NOT fund?

Yes, there are types of projects the Foundation typically does not fund. For example, other than by direct invitation, the Foundation does not fund:

  • Capital proposals
  • Endowment campaigns
  • Direct service programs
  • Commercial ventures
  • Religious activities
  • Scholarships.

Who can I contact to talk to about my proposal?

Please start by reviewing the information below about our core program areas to get a sense of how your proposal may or may not fit with our current funding priorities. If you believe your proposal is a fit, you can visit the How to Apply page and also reach out to the following email address with any application-related questions to the attention of the appropriate program officer: [email protected].

How long does it take from the time I send a proposal until a decision is made whether to fund it?

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. Learn more here.