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Discretionary Grantmaking Program

The discretionary grantmaking program supports the work of nonprofits within our service area (Kane and Kendall counties) in the following designated charitable categories: Arts and Humanities, Education, Health Care, and Social Services. These grants are for capital purposes only. Agencies should be “project ready” with estimates and a timeline for completion within the next year.

Nonprofit organizations wishing to submit a grant application must first complete a Letter of Intent (LOI) online through our grant management portal. After the LOI is completed, agencies will be contacted to determine eligibility and schedule a site visit to discuss your project. After the site visit has been conducted, and eligibility is confirmed, you will receive the next steps regarding the application process.

Additional Grant Opportunities:

Better Together Community Grant

YEP Grantmaking Program

Discretionary Grantmaking Program Details

Eligibility & Guidelines

An organization must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • Agency’s services must fall into one of the following designated charitable categories: Arts and Humanities, Education, Health Care or Social Services.
  • Grant requests are for capital purposes only. (Examples include: technology, furniture, equipment, or if the building is owned by the nonprofit, can include improvements such as carpeting, windows, and HVAC.)
  • Nonprofit agencies must be located in the Community Foundation service area which includes the Greater Aurora Area, the TriCities, and Kendall County in the State of Illinois. Consideration is also given to non-profit agencies outside of the service area that can show significant impact within the service area.
  • Organizations must be qualified tax-exempt public charities and submit evidence of 501c3 or 170b1a tax status. It is preferred that agencies are tax exempt with the State of Illinois and provide a certificate of tax exemption or a document from the State of Illinois indicating that their request for sales tax exemption was denied.
  • Grants are typically made for one year only, so agencies should be project ready.
  • The Foundation rarely provides full funding of a project.
  • Former grant recipients are asked to wait at least two full years from the date they received their grant payment, before applying for a new grant.
  • Grants are intended to support charitable projects that utilize companies, firms, or vendors whose principal offices are located within the Community Foundation service area of the Greater Aurora Area, the TriCities and Kendall County in the State of Illinois.

Download a grants eligibility and guidelines pdf.


Grants are not awarded for:

  • Agencies and institutions that are funded primarily through tax support.
  • Grade schools, middle schools, and high schools (both public and private)
  • Churches, congregations, and other member organizations are generally not eligible to apply.
  • Land or real estate purchases
  • Rent, salaries or general operating expenses
  • Programmatic expenses, IT services, annual or ongoing fees for services or memberships
  • Political purposes or lobbying

Reimbursement of costs incurred prior to the approval of your application. (Your request may only include costs that will occur in the future, after the grant is approved.)


Discretionary grants are currently available twice a year, in the spring and fall. Please note that all deadlines are midnight on the closing date. The schedule is as follows:

Spring Grant Cycle
February 1 – Letter of Intent becomes available.
March 31 – Letter of Intent is due.
May 1 – Application closes.

Fall Grant Cycle
August 1 – Letter of Intent becomes available.
September 30 – Letter of Intent is due.
November 1 – Application closes.

Preview the LOI and Grant Application

Preview the Letter of Intent as well as the Grant Application.

How to Apply

How It Works

A grant applicant creates an account in the Online Grants Manager, then logs on to that account to access or to start a new grant application. Your application can be saved as a draft, and when you log on again, it’s easy to return to that draft, make edits, and submit the application. Each account maintains a record of the application history, which is accessible at any time.

Once a grant is awarded, the Online Grants Manager allows grantees an easy way to see the status of their grant, check due dates, and submit electronic follow up grant reports right from their account.

We recommend that you carefully read the instructions and reference materials found on this page before registering and starting your first application.

Creating Your Online Account

All applicants are required to create an account in order to submit a Letter of Intent, Application, and any follow-up reports.  We suggest creating your account well in advance of the grant deadline to avoid any last-minute issues. At the time of registration, you are required to enter the following information:

  • A username that is an email address
  • Your contact information
  • Your organization’s information, including the EIN/Tax ID number (required)
  • Contact information for the organization’s Executive Officer
Managing Your Online Account

The first person to register enters the organization’s information, which creates the organization profile. It’s important to enter this information accurately at registration, because after this point the organization profile can only be edited by Community Foundation staff.  For an organization to easily view its full history of grants and requests, we recommend consolidating all applications into one user account.

If you are unsure how to set up your organization’s account, or if you are a grant writer for multiple organizations, please contact Jen by email or at 331-208-9422 to discuss your options. (Additional users can be added by Community Foundation staff.)

Helpful Tips When Applying

We encourage you to read through the Guidelines to the Grantmaking Program to determine your eligibility to apply before beginning the application process.

For the best user experience when accessing our Online Grants Manager, we suggest using one of the following browsers: Google Chrome 14 or higher, Firefox 9 or higher, or Safari 4 or higher. It is fine to use Internet Explorer, but you may encounter some minor technical issues.

If you have questions about eligibility,  contact Jen by email or at 331-208-9422.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for a grant?

In order to apply for a grant, you will need to first complete a Letter of Intent. It is a simple online application that you can access from our Online Grants Management System. Once completed, you will be contacted by Jen to schedule a site visit and review your proposal.

To apply for a grant, click here.

When are Letters of Intent available?

The Letter of Intent is available in the spring and the fall of each year.

  • The spring cycle Letter of Intent will become available February 1.
  • The fall cycle Letter of Intent will become available August 1.
When are applications available?

If you are eligible to apply, you will be sent a follow-up e-mail providing access to the application, typically within one week of the site visit.

When is the application due?

The application is available in the spring and the fall of each year.

  • The spring cycle application will close May 1.
  • The fall cycle application will close November 1.
Can I submit a paper copy of the Letter of Intent/application?

No, paper copies are not available. All applications must be submitted through the online application process.

Can I save information and return to the Letter of Intent/application?

Yes. With our Online Grants Management System, your document can be saved as a draft; when you log on again, it’s easy to return to that draft, make edits, and submit the application.

Is there a size limitation on uploaded documents?

If you’re having issues with document sizes, please contact Jen.

What is the average grant size?

Over the past five years, the average grant size is approximately $12,000. The size of grants awarded ranges primarily between $2,500 and $20,000.

It is not suggested that you apply for a grant beyond this range. Grants are rarely awarded over $20,000. If you have a project or would like to discuss a grant request that does not fall within this range, please contact Jen about it prior to submitting a Letter of Intent.

Once the Letter of Intent is completed, how long does it take until the Community Foundation contacts me?

Jen will typically contact you within days of completing the Letter of Intent. You will then be asked to schedule a site visit.

What happens during the site visit?

Jen will meet with you, the agency contact, administration, and anyone else that you feel would be relevant to the application at your agency’s facility. She will want to learn more about your organization and the project you are considering requesting a grant for from the Community Foundation. This includes the physical space, equipment, items, etc. relevant to the project in consideration. You’ll be given additional information about the process of the application and will be given an opportunity to ask questions.

What criteria is used to review my application?

Please refer to the guidelines for grants listed on the grantmaking page. The number of applications approved for funding and the dollar amounts granted are dependent on the following:

  • The number of applications presented
  • The dollar amounts requested and available
  • The impact the projects will have on the Community Foundation’s service area
When will I hear if my application is approved?

You will receive a phone call, e-mail and letter approximately 30-45 days after the due date providing you with information on whether your grant request was approved or denied funding.

When are grants awarded?

Checks are requested and approved for distribution upon receipt of the following:

  •  Signed Grant Agreement
  •  Proof of receipt or invoice for the capital request
  • Signage/Acknowledgement of Community Foundation grant (signage type varies by grant). Click here to view examples of recognition.

You will receive an email prompting you to complete these documents through our Online Grants Management System.

Thank you very much for supporting my college education for these four years. I will never be able to repay you for the opportunity that this scholarship has given to me.

Julia H.

[Renewing Scholarship Recipient] Graduate of Hinkley-Big Rock High School

There’s no question in my mind that the scholarship I received opened up possibilities.

Marianne Renner

Past Scholarship Recipient & Current Leadership Coach

As a first-generation college student from a low-income family, I was worried about how I was going to pay for books and supplies. This scholarship will allow me to focus more on my studies instead of worrying about how to afford college. I am working to not only create opportunities for myself but to motivate future generations. Thank you so much for helping me along this journey!

Moises J.

Claude & Alice Allen Memorial Scholarship Recipient

…you can always start small, even $25 can make a difference. Remember we can’t take our money with us. Even if it’s just your gift of time. Volunteer and get involved.

Cris Anderson

Cristina & Thomas S. Anderson Endowment Fund | Tom & Cris Anderson Colonial Advisory Fund

We chose the Community Foundation because of its reputation. It’s well known, established and we can trust them to do the job for us.

Dick Schindel

Richard and Susan Schindel Scholarship Funds

A community foundation is a donor-driven organization that helps donors custom-design funds that reflect their charitable interests. Through the years, grants from these funds have made a significant impact on our local communities.

Sharon Stredde

President Emeritus

Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley

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