Grant Guidelines

Two distinct funding programs are available at The Driehaus Foundation:

Driehaus Foundation Grants

Built Environment, Arts and Culture, Investigative Journalism for Government Accountability, Economic Opportunity for the Working Poor

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The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

Arts and Culture

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Driehaus Foundation Grants

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation makes grants in four program areas: Built Environment, Arts and Culture, Investigative Journalism for Government Accountability, and Economic Opportunity for the Working Poor.

Guidelines

The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. We welcome letters of inquiry if, after carefully reading our grantmaking guidelines, you believe your organization might be eligible for support. Prospective applicants may contact the appropriate Program Officer with questions before submitting a letter of interest (LOI). Do NOT submit a proposal unless you are invited to do so.

Please note the following:

  • The vast majority of grants go to organizations residing in, and working in, the Chicago area. 
  • We usually do not fund large organizations with multi-million-dollar budgets. 
  • We do not fund arts education; arts outreach; individual restoration projects; community theater and community dance; health care; public, private, or parochial education.
  • We do not provide scholarships or tuition assistance. 
  • We do not fund capital campaigns or endowments.
  • We do not fund political campaigns or legislative lobbying.

Please review the funding priorities for the program area in which you are interested:

Built Environment

Arts and Culture*

Investigative Journalism for Government Accountability

Economic Opportunity for the Working Poor

*The Driehaus Foundation also partners with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to provide general operating support to arts and cultural organizations in Chicago with annual budgets up to $500,000. Scroll down to read the guidelines for this separate funding program.


The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation partners with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to provide general operating grants to Chicago arts and cultural organizations with annual operating budgets up to $500,000. This program, The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation (“the Funds”), supports small to midsize arts organizations in Chicago as an expression of civic commitment to the community where both foundations are headquartered. Grants are designed to help sustain the cultural life of the city and region.

Guidelines

The Funds provide general operating support to organizations with proven records of artistic and organizational excellence. The Funds are administered according to the following criteria. 

  • Quality of the organization’s artistic program 
  • Strong financial management and evidence of good planning 
  • Strength of the board and staff leadership 
  • Impact on the organization’s neighborhood and the city
  • Sizes and types of audiences served

Organizations with budgets above $500,000 should refer to the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince Charitable Trusts

Eligibility  The Funds are designed specifically to address the needs of small to midsize professional arts and cultural organizations. The goal of the Funds is to encourage and advance the richness and variety—aesthetic, stylistic, thematic, geographical, and cultural—extant in Chicago’s vibrant and diverse arts community. To that end, this program is limited to companies that emphasize professional presentation over arts education or community outreach.

Arts and culture organizations eligible to receive these general operating support grants include, but are not limited to:

  • Organizations working in the performing arts, such as dance, theater, puppetry, and music in its many forms;
  • Non-performing-arts organizations, such as museums, archives, literary publications, and film.

The Funds are intended to support charitable organizations that are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are classified as public charities under Section 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2).

Area of Geographic Focus  The Funds are intended to help sustain the cultural life of the city of Chicago. As such, the Funds prioritize proposals from organizations that are located in Chicago, and whose core mission is to serve Chicago audiences. On occasion, we will consider proposals from organizations in the suburbs and five collar counties if the applicant can make a strong case that the organization, with the quality and/or uniqueness of its work and mission, serves Chicago audiences to a substantial degree. Applicants located outside of Chicago who are uncertain if they meet these criteria should contact a Program Officer prior to submitting a proposal.

Please note: In addition to the guidelines above, the Funds do not support:

  • Project-specific proposals. (These grants are intended for general operating support.)
  • Organizations whose core mission does not include serving Chicago audiences.
  • Projects that promote or proselytize any religion. 
  • Organizations that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any veteran’s status.
  • Individuals, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying.
  • Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos.
  • Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction.

In addition to the Funds, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation has a separate grantmaking program in Arts and Culture. For a detailed description of this separate Arts and Culture program, please click here. In most cases, organizations that are funded under the Foundation’s Arts and Culture program cannot also be funded by the MacArthur-Driehaus Funds. Please review the guidelines for both programs to determine which is the best fit for your organization.

For more information, contact Geoffrey Banks, Senior Program Officer, at geoffreybanks@driehausfoundation.org, or Julia Mayer, Senior Program Officer, at juliamayer@driehausfoundation.org, or call (312) 641-5772.