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The Joyce Foundation Grants

Grants to USA Organizations in the Great Lakes Region for Policy
Change in Education, Environment, Culture, and Employment

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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The Joyce Foundation

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Grants to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin organizations to positively impact communities within the Great Lakes region through public policy. LOIs must be submitted six to eight weeks prior to the deadline. Program areas include education, environment, democracy, culture, gun violence prevention, and employment.

The Foundation focuses grant making on initiatives that promise to have an influence on public policies. This includes advancing the public debate about important policy issues, development and testing of new policy ideas, and evaluations that help policymakers understand how policies are working and where improvements are needed. Such policy initiatives can lead to broad, systemic changes that affect the most people over the long run.


-Culture grants are primarily focused in the City of Chicago, except for the Joyce Awards, which extend to other Midwest cities.

-Education grant making in preK-12 focuses on Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis.

-The Employment Program primarily focuses on federal and state policy grants, but will make some grants to support targeted metro-level progress in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

-A limited number of Environment grants are made to organizations in Canada.

-The Gun Violence Prevention Program focuses on the states of Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Federal tax law prohibits private foundations from funding lobbying activities. The Foundation may support organizations engaged in public policy advocacy by either providing general operating support or by funding educational advocacy such as nonpartisan research, technical assistance, or examinations of broad social issues.

Program Areas:

1) Education:

The Education Program works to ensure all students—especially those who are low-income and minority—are prepared for life success by improving the quality of teachers they encounter in school, enhancing early education policies, and supporting policies that ensure high school students have a seamless transition from high school to college and careers.

-Teacher Quality: The Foundation supports efforts to improve federal, state, and district policies to ensure students, especially those in high-need schools in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis, have access to teachers who are highly trained, properly evaluated, and well supported. Joyce supports efforts to develop policies that help attract high-caliber candidates into the profession, ensure they are properly trained and evaluated, and provide educators with the support and career opportunities they need.

-Kindergarten Readiness: The Foundation supports policy initiatives that ensure all children, particularly those who are low-income and minority, are academically and developmentally ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten. Efforts include research, public education, policy development, and advocacy.

2) Environment

The Environment Program is committed to speeding the Midwest’s transition to a thriving, low-carbon economy; protecting and restoring a healthy Great Lakes environment which sustains the millions of Americans and Canadians who live along and depend upon the Lakes; and broadening the base of support for strong environmental policies in the Foundation's home region.

3) Employment:

The Foundation seek to expand economic opportunities for disadvantaged individuals, and promote competitiveness and economic vitality in the Great Lakes region.The Foundation focuses on two key issues:

-Building foundational skills necessary for underprepared adults to succeed in college and other forms of training necessary to access good jobs;

-Supporting the creation of partnerships between industry and education and workforce development entities so they can respond to labor market changes with nimble and creative placement and training solutions.

4) Gun Violence Prevention:

The Joyce Foundation makes grants to strengthen evidence-based public policies to reduce gun violence, in the following areas:

-State Policy Reform: In order to strengthen state gun violence prevention policies to reduce access to firearms by persons who pose a danger to themselves or others, the Foundation supports state-based policy research, advocacy, coalition building, grassroots engagement, messaging, media and communications, and legal support for organizations working in Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and in select other states that present unique opportunities. The Foundation also supports strategies to protect and defend policies from legal challenges.

-Stakeholder and Public Engagement: The Foundation supports efforts to build engagement by key stakeholders and the public in gun violence prevention, especially law enforcement and other groups impacted by gun violence.

-Research and Data Collection: The Foundation supports efforts to build the body of research and data to inform gun violence prevention policy and practice. The Foundation will consider projects that concern gun violence in all its forms, including suicide, homicide, criminal use of guns, and gun accidents, and that are likely to result in policy-relevant information, to assist policy development, evaluation and enforcement.

-Innovation/Opportunity Grants: A small portion of program funds is reserved for promising emerging policy-oriented opportunities to reduce gun violence.

5) Culture

The Culture Program works to improve communities through the arts, support art that reflects and challenges the community, and make art accessible to diverse audiences. The Foundation supports organizations working toward this end in the following areas:

-Promoting Access: This funding category supports cultural institutions with concrete measurable plans to increase the participation of people of color in their audiences, boards, and staff through systemic analysis, interventions, and long-term change.

-Capacity Building: This funding category supports initiatives to strengthen infrastructure and human capital of ALAANA (African Latino Asian Arab Native American) arts organizations, meaning organizations that are for, by and about ALAANA culture.

-Creativity: This funding category supports artists of color to create new work in partnership with nonprofit organizations. The Foundation will consider residencies, scholarships and other efforts to nurture artists’ work throughout their careers.

6) Democracy:

The goal of the Democracy Program is to preserve and strengthen those values and qualities that are the foundation of a healthy democratic political system: honesty, fairness, transparency, accountability, competition, informed citizen participation, and policy decisions made in the public interest. Accordingly, the Foundation seeks to support efforts to strengthen democracy in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin in one or more of the following policy areas:

-Campaign Finance: Increase transparency in campaign financing; foster electoral competition; encourage greater participation in government and politics by voters, donors, and candidates; and make it easier and more affordable for all candidates to communicate with voters about their qualifications and policy views.

-Election Administration: Guarantee election integrity by vesting election administration authority in nonpartisan and independent agencies; improve registration systems; and certify the security, accessibility, usability, and reliability of voting devices.

-Electoral Systems: Offer voters a meaningful choice by fostering competitive elections, provide for fair or proportional representation for communities of color, women, and political parties, and enhance accountability of legislators to constituents.

-Fair Courts: Safeguard the independence, impartiality, integrity, and diversity of state courts through the adoption of new judicial selection procedures and clearer standards of conduct.

-Voting Rights: Establish a fundamental right to vote; extend the franchise to all adult citizens; reduce barriers to participation, including discriminatory purging, stringent identification requirements, and voter-challenge procedures.

7) Special Opportunities

The Special Opportunities Program gives the Foundation a measure of flexible funding with which to respond to important opportunities outside or across the Foundation’s core giving programs, or to develop new ideas and promote innovation in how the Foundation and its grantees operate.

Special Opportunities fund is used to explore or support:

-Communications and media-related grants to raise the visibility of Joyce issues and grantees with policy makers, journalists, and opinion leaders

-Efforts to help Joyce grantees use new media tools for education and engagement

-Exploration of cross-programmatic innovations

8) Joint Fund for Education and Employment:

While high school graduation rates have risen over the past two decades, too many high school graduates are not academically prepared for college and do not complete a degree.

The Foundation therefore invests in three areas:

-Pathways. Bridge the gap between high school and college to: (1) build high school students’ academic preparedness for college and (2) encourage students to enroll in and persist through college. The Foundation's focus will be on efforts that align K–12 and postsecondary pathways and promote career exploration through exposure to the world of work and real-world simulations.

-Personal success skills. Build individuals’ personal success skills (interpersonal and intrapersonal skills) in ways that promote academic achievement, social and emotional well-being, college retention, and/or workplace success. The Foundation will strive to understand how the non-academic skills crucial to individuals’ success can be measured and taught by building on the most recent research in this field.

-Teaching and learning. Improve teaching and learning in ways that will promote academic preparedness, college attainment, and skill-building. It seems increasingly likely that current teaching approaches will need to evolve if all students are to acquire the full set of cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills necessary for academic and workplace success. The Foundation is interested in approaches that emphasize real-world application of skills, develop learner agency, personalize learning, and use technology intelligently within a well-designed overall learning experience. The Foundation will support efforts to identify, document, measure, and spread promising approaches.

The program does not support direct-service programs.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180278

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Grants are made to organizations for initiatives that will have an impact on the Great Lakes region, specifically the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Generally, the Foundation does not support capital proposals, endowment campaigns, religious activities, commercial ventures, direct service programs, or scholarships.

For more specific eligiblity restrictions related to each program area, see the Guidelines link in Pre-Application Information below.

Pre-Application Information:

Proposal Deadline
-August 9, 2017 for consideration at the November 2017 Board Meeting.
-December 5, 2017 for consideration at the April 2018 Board Meeting.
-April 11, 2018 for consideration at the July 2018 Board Meeting.

Letters of inquiry should be submitted at least six to eight weeks prior to the proposal deadline for a given grant cycle. If your proposal fits with the grant priorities, please send an email to the attention of the appropriate program officer. See a list of program officers here:

Applicants are strongly encouraged to plan their application and proposal submission process for the April or July meetings, since most grant funds will be distributed at those times.

If the project does fit within the guidelines, the program officer may invite the applicant to submit a full proposal.

The Joyce Foundation accepts grant inquiries throughout the year. 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.


More information for organizations working in public policy may be found here:

How to Apply:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit LOIs and application materials to:

The Joyce Foundation
321 North Clark Street, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60654


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois;   Indiana;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Ohio;   Wisconsin