How To Apply

At the Dunham Foundation, we strive to honor John C. Dunham's vision for building a healthy, thriving community with our grantmaking. Through these efforts, we support projects and programs that measurably and permanently impact the Dunham Foundation Service Area by supporting programs and projects in the areas of Education, Economic Growth, and Community.

Preference is given to grant applicant organizations located in the Dunham Foundation Service Area. Grant applicants outside the service area may also be considered if the project can significantly impact the Dunham Foundation’s Service Area.

Online Grant Process

As of January 1, 2021, the Dunham Foundation has returned to its initial grantmaking process. While we are not solely focused on responding to COVID-19 requests, we know our community still feels the pandemic’s effects. Therefore, the request limit for Abbreviated Applications has increased to provide nonprofits the resources they need to meet more immediate community needs.

Before proceeding with the online process, please download and review the 2021 Grant Application Guidelines for more information on how to complete the application.

Please note that all grant applications must be submitted by October 15 of that year.

Requests that exceed $75,000

We accept Letters of Intent (LOIs) with online submission deadlines of February 1 (Cycle 1) and June 1 (Cycle 2).

Step 1: Assess Eligibility and Fit

Organizations seeking Dunham Foundation support must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code or have a fiscal sponsor that has a 501(c)(3) status.
  • Engage in work that aligns with the Dunham Foundation’s mission and priority areas.
  • Provide services in the Dunham Foundation service area. See map here.

Step 2: Letter of Intent (LOI)

If an organization’s request is more than $75,000, a Letter of Intent (LOI) is required to be considered by the Board of Directors to submit a full proposal. Sign in to the Dunham Foundation’s online portal to complete the LOI application. LOIs with online submission deadlines of February 1 (Cycle 1) and June 1 (Cycle 2). LOIs will be reviewed by the Dunham Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Step 3: Grant Proposal

Following the LOI submission, organizations will be notified if they have been invited to submit a full proposal, and the Dunham Foundation’s Program Director will provide directions for submitting the full proposal. Regardless of the outcome for all grants that exceed $75,000, all applicants will receive notification regarding the status of their request by June 15 (Cycle 1) or November 15 (Cycle 2).

Step 4: Grant Awarded

If the Dunham Foundation’s Board of Directors approves your grant, you will be notified by the Program Director and receive an award letter and grant agreement. This grant agreement must be signed prior to receiving the awarded funds.

Step 5: Grant Report

At the conclusion of the grant, funded organizations will be expected to submit a financial and program report. Specific information regarding reporting requirements will be outlined through the submission process and in the grant agreements.

Requests that are $75,000 or less

We accept grant requests through online submissions at any time during the calendar year. Please note that letters and emails sent directly to the Dunham Foundation requesting support will no longer be accepted.

Step 1: Assess Eligibility and Fit

Organizations seeking Dunham Foundation support must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code or have a fiscal sponsor that has a 501(c)(3) status.
  • Engage in work that aligns with the Dunham Foundation’s mission and priority areas.
  • Provide services in the Dunham Foundation service area. See map here.

Step 2: Grant Proposal

If an organization’s request is $75,000 or less, an application may be submitted through the grant portal. Applications are reviewed by the Board of Directors and organizations will be notified of the status of their request within 30 days of submission date.

Step 3: Grant Awarded

If your grant is approved by the Dunham Foundation’s Board of Directors, you will be notified by the Program Director and receive an award letter and grant agreement. This grant agreement must be signed prior to receiving the awarded funds.

Step 4: Grant Report

At the conclusion of the grant, funded organizations will be expected to submit a financial and program report. Specific information regarding reporting requirements will be outlined through the submission process and in the grant agreements.

We look forward to learning more about your organization and your work to impact our community. Please contact Lindsay Cochrane, Program Director, with any questions at info@dunhamfoundation.org.

Grant FAQs

The Foundation accepts grant requests from 501(c)(3) organizations that are involved in education and community development programs — the building blocks that will, in founder John Dunham’s words, “make the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind.”

The Foundation also gives preference to organizations located within the broad Aurora, Illinois community, specifically within the territory bounded by Illinois State Route 38 on the north and U.S. Route 34 on the south; and by Illinois State Routes 59 on the east and 47 on the west.

The Dunham Foundation’s primary grant making goal is to measurably and permanently impact the Dunham Foundation service area through start up support of new or uniquely enhanced educational and community development programs and capital projects that address a documented need and are innovative, collaborative and potentially self-sustaining, while being purposefully designed to effect positive change through close alignment with the missions of the grant seeking organization and the Dunham Foundation.

Those grant proposals that closely adhere to this grant making goal are most likely to be considered for and receive funding. The terms and elements of the Dunham Foundation grant making goal are more extensively defined in the Dunham Foundation Online Grant Guidelines.

That depends, of course, on the amount and intent of the funds requested. Grants are ordinarily made for one year only and are generally limited to $1 million. The Dunham Foundation encourages the participation of others in funding projects, and on occasion provides matching funds and challenge grants in an attempt to stimulate increased response from other sources. Click here to learn more about Dunham Foundation grants.

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