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Request for Proposal

We are excited to announce the fourth year of our Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grants program. Proposals will be considered from both new partnerships and from partnerships funded in the first three years of this Grants program.

 We are committing more than $500,000 annually to advance racial equity in our home communities of Evanston and Chicago. Our goal is to foster mutually beneficial partnerships between community-based organizations and Northwestern University representatives that work towards making our communities fairer and more equitable. We invite you to consider applying for a partnership grant.

Why University-Community Partnerships

Northwestern is committed to becoming a national model for how a major research university engages with the communities where it resides. To reach that goal, we intend to expand strategic, meaningful partnerships between community-based organizations and Northwestern University that:

  • Build the capacity of local neighborhoods to develop and grow community-driven solutions to structural problems
  • Advance the University's academic and research mission while also strengthening local communities
We want to support projects fully co-created and co-managed by both community organizations and Northwestern representatives as well as create a pipeline for new projects. 

Our Working Definition of Racial Equity

We believe racial equity is the foundation for a just and fair society where all people can participate to reach their full potential. Advancing racial equity means doing things differently than they have done before. We mean: 

  • Investing in communities of color, especially underserved and underinvested areas
  • Making changes to institutions to address root causes of inequities
  • Racial healing and acknowledgment of past harms to communities of color 

What We Fund

We want to fund proposals that work toward making structural changes which address racial equity. Ideas should focus on one or more of the following areas: 

  • Health equity 
  • Economic and social empowerment such as expanding work opportunities, increasing access to wealth for families and individuals, or developing community leadership opportunities
  • Children and youth learning
Currently, Partnership Grants will be available for application in November 2024.

What Will We Fund

Generally, up to 10 grants of $25,000 to $75,000 for community-based organization/Northwestern partnerships, with funds primarily allocated to the community-based organization. The Northwestern partner can be funded for up to 25% of the total grant, particularly for stipends for students or other staff or faculty engagement in the project.

Who Should Apply

Projects that already have a community-based organization/Northwestern partnership in place OR can establish a working community-based organization/Northwestern relationship.

Policies for Previous Grant Recipients:

  1. Eligibility for Successive Applications:
    • Previous grant recipients may submit a subsequent application for the same project for one additional grant cycle.
    • Should the second application for the same project be approved, the request should be for no more than 80% of the initial grant award.
  2. Application for the Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant:
    • Previous grant recipients are eligible to apply for the Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant for a third time, but the project proposals must have a different focus area than the previous two applications.


•       Work on a project making structural changes that address racial equity

•       Co-create and/or co-lead as a team (community-based organization and Northwestern representatives)


This is a list of the 2021, 2022, and 2023 projects that demonstrate the kind of partnerships that we seek to fund or help develop.  

How the Submission and Selection Process Works

Grants will be selected through a two-stage process, including an LOI and a full proposal for those invited to move forward. Here are important steps and dates in the process: 

  1. Apply for a Partnership grant: Community-based organizations or Northwestern students, faculty, or staff were invited to submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) beginning November 28, 2023 to our online application system. This is a simple application that asks for you to describe your idea. LOIs were due by January 26, 2024.

  2. Our committee will reviewed the LOIs and selected applications to move to the second stage. 

  3. Those selected to continue will complete a final, full proposal and submit it. Full grant application proposals opened February 9, 2024 and will be due by March 15, 2024.

  4. We will announce grantees in May 2024.

  5. The grant cycle will run from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025. We will distribute the first half of funding after the grant agreement is signed; the second half will be distributed after completion of a mid-term report.

What You Will Need to Submit

Letter of Interest: To submit your LOI, please visit the Evanston Community Foundation grant portal. You may need to create an account. Below are questions you will need to answer when submitting your LOI. 

For all applicants: 

  • Your idea: Tell us about your idea and how it addresses racial equity. Is this a new idea or is it building on something your organization is already working on? 
  • What you do: If you are a community-based organization: What is your organization's mission? What areas do you serve? If you are a Northwestern University representative: What are your areas of interest?
  • Addressing structural racism: How would this project work to address structural racism? 
  • Project goals: During one year of funding, what would you expect to accomplish? How would you define success at the end of that year?
  • Tell us about the partnership between the community-based organization and the Northwestern representatives. Is it already in place or is it a developing relationship? What are the roles or potential roles for the community-based organization and the Northwestern representative? What do you each bring to this partnership? Why is this partnership meaningful to both sides?
You must submit the LOI to the portal by January 26, 2024. 
Full Proposal: If your idea is invited to the full proposal stage, we will ask your team to explain your vision further, including the proposed budget and work plan. Final proposals are due in March 2024.


If you have questions, please contact Thank you for your interest!