Grant Guidelines

Focus Areas

The John and Susan Dewan Foundation makes grants and gives assistance to organizations that provide direct service to people in poverty. Projects that transform lives and help the poor to help themselves are our primary focus. Faith-based organizations are a special interest for our grant making. We strongly favor making grants to smaller organizations rather than multi-million dollar institutions. The Foundation is interested in funding efforts with the potential to provide an improvement in service lasting beyond the period of support.

Grants will primarily be made to organizations operating programs and providing services within the City of Chicago and the immediately surrounding suburbs. Efforts that address the needs of people in poverty overseas, especially in Central America, are also an important interest.

Grant Size and Length of Commitment

Grants will generally be $2,500 or less and will usually be awarded for a single year. The Foundation may provide grants in subsequent years to an initial award.

Letters of Interest and Grant Proposals

The strong preference of the Board of Directors is that grant seekers initially submit a letter of inquiry outlining the need or project for which funding is being requested. Letters can be submitted at any time during the course of the year. This letter should include a brief description of the proposer’s organization and background, the goals, objectives and anticipated outcomes of the proposed project, and a contact name, address, and phone number.

Although the Foundation strongly desires a letter of interest as the first step for grant seekers, we will nevertheless accept unsolicited proposals, preferably submitted via regular U.S. mail.

Letters of inquiry and grant proposals should be sent to:
The John and Susan Dewan Foundation
4106 West 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60629-4910

Funding decisions will generally be made within 90 days of proposal submission. Proposals that are not selected for funding will be notified in writing. The Foundation will not provide a rationale for its decision nor comment on the merits of the proposal. Submitted proposals will not be returned.


Grants are made only to public charities with tax-exempt status in the USA under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Foundation will not make awards to support fund-raising events or capital campaigns, honorary functions, debt retirement or completed projects. The Foundation will not accept gratuities of any kind including tickets to fund-raising events sponsored by grantees or potential grantees.

The Foundation will not support political activities or campaigns or efforts to influence specific legislation.