Apply For a Grant

Guidelines And Procedures


The HPCF Entertains Grant Proposals from Agencies and Organizations that:

  • Currently have IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, have a fiscal agent with 501(c)(3) status, or are governmental entities
  • Serve a population of at least 51% Highland Park/Highwood residents through the program or service for which funding is being requested

First Time Applicants:

New applicants and those who applied for but were not awarded an Annual Grant from the HPCF in the past three years must be approved to submit a grant application. For approval, please submit a letter to the HPCF as described in the First Time Applicants section of our website by 5 PM Central time on May 31, 2024. You will be notified if your organization qualifies to submit a grant proposal. If approved, please follow the procedures outlined below.

Returning Applicants and Approved New Applicants:

If you received an Annual Grant from the HPCF in the past three years or are a pre-approved new applicant, please submit your completed application online.


All items must be received by 5 PM Central time on July 15, 2024.


The beginning of the June 12, 2024, meeting of the HPCF Board of Directors will be open for public comments regarding the Annual Grant applications.

The Highland Park Community Foundation Board will review and make the final determination on all applications. Applicants will be notified about the Board’s decision along with any conditions that may apply to their grant. Grant recipients are required to submit an Interim Grant Report and adhere to HPCF’s Publicity Guidelines.

The HPCF will distribute its 2024 Annual Grant awards on Wednesday, October 30, 2024.

2024 Annual Grant Awards Grant Applicant FAQs

Download these FAQs as a PDF: Click Here

Pre-Application and Application Information

  • Who can apply for an annual grant?
    • Only organizations that have 501(c)(3) status, have a fiscal agent with 501(c)(3) status, and governmental entities.
    • Applicants must provide programs and services that are consistent with the Foundation’s mission of addressing unmet needs and expanding opportunities for all Highland Park and Highwood residents.
  • We are not headquartered in Highland Park or Highwood. Can we still apply for a grant?
    • Yes, as long as 51% or more of the recipients of the program or service for which you seek funding reside in Highland Park or Highwood.
  • Do you accept unsolicited applications?
    • Yes, but if you are applying to the HPCF for the first time, you must submit a letter of interest in applying for an Annual Grant by 5 PM Central time on May 31, 2024.
  • When are applications due?
    • Annual Grant applications must be complete in all respects and submitted online by 5 PM Central time on July 15, 2024.
  • Can multiple organizations apply for funding to support a collaborative project?
    • Yes. If the organizations are also applying for funding for their own programs, they should jointly submit a separate application for the collaborative project.
  • Will we have the opportunity to meet with a Board Member?
    • Yes. Each Annual Grant applicant is assigned a Board Member liaison who meets with and becomes familiar with the organization.
  • Should we attend the Board meeting on June 12, 2024? Is this meant to be an opportunity for an organization to make a public statement of its case for support? Will questions be answered?
    • The beginning of the meeting will be open to the public to be transparent about our process and to let applicants and community members provide comments for the Board’s consideration about a program or service for which funding will be requested, which are not addressed in the application. There is no need to attend the meeting unless you have something to share with the Board, which you will not be able to include in your written application or discuss with your Board liaison. Attendees’ questions will be answered.

Areas of Annual Grant Funding

  • What do you provide funding for?
    • For the past several years, the HPCF has provided Annual Grants to address unmet needs in the following 5 main categories: education, human services, services for individuals with disabilities, senior services, and the creative and cultural arts. If your organization addresses a need outside of these funding categories, we encourage you to contact us. You may still be eligible to apply for an Annual Grant.
    • In general, the HPCF does not provide grants for debt reduction, pass-through grants, interim or bridge funding, fundraising activities or events, endowments, private foundations, or political activities.
  • Do you fund operating expenses?
    • Funding support has been provided only for specific programs and services, except for applicants that previously received funding support for general operating expenses from the City of Highland Park through its Cultural Arts Commission.
  • We have heard that the HPCF prefers to fund programs and services, not print materials. Will we be at a disadvantage if we are applying for a grant to fund a publication?
    • Not necessarily. In some cases, producing a print publication is the program or service the organization provides.
  • Can we apply for funding for more than one program?
    • Yes. The grant application accommodates requests for more than one program or service. You will not need to submit multiple applications.

Review Criteria

  • How are funding decisions made?
    • Board Members review all applications. Serving as liaisons to the applying organizations, each Board Member meets with 2-4 applicants to discuss their needs and grant requests. In August and September, the Board Members meet in groups to discuss the applications. They then collectively meet to make final funding decisions, adhering to the Board’s Conflict of Interest Policy.
    • A number of different factors are considered in reviewing the applications. These include:
      • The completeness and clarity of the grant request
      • The need(s) to be addressed, the population(s) to be served, and the likely impact the proposed program or service will have on the individuals to be served and our community as a whole.
      • The applicant’s organizational strength, record of success, and likelihood of effectively executing their stated proposal.
      • The financial strength of the applicant and the extent to which funding will give the applicant the opportunity to leverage other resources or financial support.
      • For returning applicants, adherence to HPCF grant requirements and the amount of funding previously provided.
    • These factors are not exclusive, and the HPCF Board reserves the right to use its own best judgment when making funding decisions.

Annual Grant Awards

  • What size grants do you award?
    • Annual Grants generally fall in the $1,000 to $50,000 range and depend on the funds available for distribution in any given year as well as the nature of each request. If you received an Annual Grant in the prior year and intend to ask for more than you previously received for the same program or service, you should support your new larger request with significant data or reasons to support the increase.
  • If our organization submits an application, is it possible that we will receive less money than requested?
    • Yes, grant requests may be denied in whole or part.
  • Does the Foundation limit the dollar amount of awards to first-time applicants?
    • Grants awarded to first-time applicants are typically in the $1,000-$3,000 range.
  • When will we know if our organization has been awarded a grant?
    • The HPCF Board will make its award decisions in September. Organizations receiving Annual Grants will be invited and encouraged to attend a Grants Distribution event that will take place on October 30, 2024, where they will be presented with their grant checks. Applicants who are not awarded grants will receive a personal call from a member of the HPCF Grants Committee to discuss the Board’s decision not to fund the organization’s request.

Annual Grant Requirements

  • Grants are expected to be used for their intended purpose within 12 months. If for some reason a grant will not be used for its intended purpose or within 12 months of its distribution, the organization receiving the award must notify the HPCF.
  • Are there reporting requirements?
    • We require all Annual Grant recipients to submit an Interim Grant Report.A Report Form will be sent to you once you have been awarded your grant.
  • Are there other requirements?
    • We ask all Annual Grant recipients to submit 3 to 5 hi-resolution photos of the programs for which they receive funding. Exceptions are made when this is not possible for privacy or other reasons.
    • We also require all Annual Grant recipients to adhere to our Publicity Guidelines, which will be emailed with the Interim Grant Report Form.


  • How should we send something to the HPCF?
    • We prefer to receive all printed materials and photos, electronically.
    • Emails should generally be sent to our Executive Director, Terri Olian, at
    • If you need to send something by postal mail, please send one copy to: Highland Park Community Foundation, P.O. Box 398, Highland Park, IL 60035
    • Who should I contact if I have a question about our grant application, grant, or something else that comes up during the year?

HPCF July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund and July 4th Recovery Fund Grants

  • In general, how will July 4th Response or Recovery Fund grants impact the Annual Grants the HPCF provides?
    • It is possible our Annual Grant awards will be impacted by the types of needs our community is facing when the Board makes its grant decisions. There is also the potential that we will see a decrease in our annual fundraising efforts, which might impact the amount of our Annual Grant awards.
  • Can our organization apply for an Annual Grant if we received one or more July 4th Response or Recovery Fund grants? If so, will the amount of our funding reduce the amount of our Annual Grant award?
    • You can still apply. The amount of funding an organization received will be one of many factors the Board will consider in making its Annual Grant funding decisions. At this point, we are unable to determine to what extent a July 4th Response or Recovery grant may impact the amount of your award.