Our Application Process

Getting Started Criteria

If you are thinking of applying for a grant, please make sure that:

  1. You or one of your programs is consistent with one of our focus areas: For Community Services and Jewish Community requests, you or your program is in Cook County or Lake County, Illinois.
    • Please Note: We accept applications by invitation only for: Education requests (if you have a new program that aligns with our giving area, please feel free to contact us); Jewish Community requests for organizations without programming in Cook or Lake County, Illinois; and Medical Research requests.
  2. You are a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If your organization is also classified under Section 509(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, please contact us before applying.
  3. You have the capacity to fulfill a Circle of Service Foundation (COSF) Challenge Grant. You are willing to raise funds from new donors and increased funds from existing donors, and you are able to effectively track and report on these new and additional donations.
  4. During your last fiscal year, you (a) had a broad base of non-governmental supporters and (b) received at least $75,000 in private revenue. For a discussion of what private revenue is, please see our Eligible Gifts FAQs. If you are a new organization, please see our New and Startup Organization FAQs.
  5. You have a board of directors (or similar governing body) consisting of at least five unrelated members (with at least four members who are not employees of the organization) that is responsible for overseeing the organization’s mission and evaluating operations.
  6. Your board members make meaningful personal financial contributions to you.
  7. You can clearly state your desired outcomes and your current year goals and results. If you are an established organization, you can also provide recent evaluation results (internal or external) and your analysis of those results.

Preparing to Apply

Determine if you are within Our Focus and Getting Started Criteria

We suggest that, along with the Getting Started Criteria, you please review Our Focus to determine if your organization’s activities match our focus areas and funding criteria.

Determine if you should complete a Pre-application or Application

You should complete a Pre-application if:

  • You are a new grant applicant;
  • Your most recent COSF grant terms ended more than 12 months ago; or
  • Your most recent COSF grant terms ended less than 12 months ago, and you plan to apply for a different program than was funded in the last grant.
You should complete an Application if:
  • Your last COSF grant terms ended less than 12 months ago, and you plan to apply for the same program.