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Focus Areas

The John and Susan Dewan Foundation makes grants and gives assistance only to charitable organizations that have tax-exempt status in the USA and 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, primarily in the Roman Catholic tradition, are a special interest for our grant making.  We strongly favor making grants to smaller organizations rather than multi-million-dollar institutions.

Grants will primarily be made to organizations operating programs and providing services in two areas:

  • within the City of Chicago and the immediately surrounding suburbs.

  • USA-based charitable organizations that address the needs of people in poverty overseas.

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.


Letters of inquiry and grant proposals should be emailed to


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. 


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

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

Additional Information

For additional information contact Maria Lefkow Sorensen, Executive Director of the John and Susan Dewan Foundation, at

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