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How To Apply For A Regionally-Focused Collections Grant


We focus our grants in three distinct project areas:

1) At-risk Collections:

The Foundation offers project grants to organizations to preserve at-risk collections. At-risk collections include orphan collections (those being deaccessioned with no identified future home), those in private hands (proverbial ones in basements, attics and forgotten storerooms), collections held by organizations with limited capacities, and occasionally collections within larger institutions.

For at-risk collections, the Foundation supports a range of projects, from stabilization, to restoration, to archival processing.

Grants for at-risk collections vary in size, depending on several factors.

2) Creative Interpretation:

The Foundation offers project planning grants for institutions to work with artists, curators, historians and other creatives to engage audiences in new, dynamic ways; that push the envelope of presentation and interpretation; that go beyond the typical array of exhibits and exhibitions in drawing attention to collections of exceptional regional significance.

Institutions that receive planning grants may be eligible in the future for partial funding support to implement projects of exceptional promise.

Planning grants may be up to $25,000.

3) Digitization:

The Foundation offers challenge grants for digitization projects of the highest value, regionally-focused collections. A higher priority will be placed on those digitized collections that can be made available through one of the regional digital portals: Lowcountry Digital Library (College of Charleston), EXPLORE Chicago Collections (Chicago Collections Consortium) or the Community Collections Portal (Chicago Cultural Alliance.)

The purpose of challenge grants, beyond supporting expanded public accessibility, is to help institutions build a stronger base of support for stewarding its collections long-term.

Organizations may apply for a maximum of three challenge grants, provided they demonstrate progress toward building and sustaining long-term support.

Grants for digitizing collections vary in size, depending on several factors.


As noted previously, all projects must be regionally focused and lead toward increased public access. Additional criteria we consider in making our grant decisions include:

  • Uniqueness of collection
  • Size of collection
  • Demand for access
  • Capacity/stability of applicant organization


To be eligible for a grant:

  • You must be a 501(c)(3) public charity. We do not make collections grants through fiscal sponsors or agents.
  • You must have completed at least one full fiscal year of operations before applying.
  • Chicago region organizations must be current with their DataArts profile (formerly the Cultural Data Project).
  • A technology plan is in place or in development.
  • A letter of agreement is secured from any partner organizations.

The following are not eligible:

  • Individuals.
  • Religious activities, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying.
  • Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos.
  • Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction.


Before applying for a grant, first review our strategy and the eligibility requirements above. Next, please call us to discuss your project. We can provide guidance as to the potential fit with the Foundation’s guidelines, and answer any questions you may have before sending you a link to our online application form.

To work on an application you've already begun, log back into your account: https://www.grantrequest.com/SID_879/

If you have questions about Chicago Region Collections grants, contact Chicago Senior Program Officer, Ellen Placey Wadey at 312.977.2707.

If you have questions about Lowcountry Collections grants, contact Lowcountry Program Director, Kerri Forrest at 843.277.2041.


Your complete proposal must be submitted online by 11:59pm Central Time on
- March 29, 2019 for review at our July 2019 board meeting
- July 26, 2019 for review at our November 2019 board meeting

It takes about four months from grant application deadline through board decision. After the board meeting, you'll hear from us within a couple weeks.

Grant Reports & Requirements

Should you receive a grant, you will be required to submit annual reports. Other requirements may be requested, as well. Deadlines are included in your grant award letter (sent via email). You can access and submit all requirements via your online account, approximately six weeks before they are due: https://www.grantrequest.com/SID_879/ Please contact us with any questions.