Six young white Fifth House Ensemble students in Zoom like boxes appear smiling and make heart gestures with their hands to the camera.

For Immediate Release: $3 million in Grants to Small Arts & Culture Orgs


Grants include $750,000 in additional support designated for the Foundation’s new Broadening Narratives collections strategy to amplify underrepresented narratives told in small and diverse museums and libraries.

CHICAGO [April 27, 2021]—A year after its April 2020 announcement of nearly $3 million in expedited funding, the Chicago-based Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation) is proud to announce a second wave of support, expediting an additional $3 million that includes: $1.4 million in general operating funds to its current roster of 175 arts grantees in the Chicago region and 40 in the Lowcountry of South Carolina; $705,000 to grantees wishing to renew multi-year grants; and $75,000 to be provided to five regional arts service organizations including the Chicago-based institutions Arts Alliance Illinois, Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and League of Chicago Theatres.

The expedited funding also includes $750,000 to be designated to the Foundation’s new Broadening Narratives Collections strategy to amplify underrepresented narratives told in museums, libraries and other collecting organizations; and $75,000 to be granted to the five advisory groups involved with the new initiative, including the Chicago-based Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, and Chicago Cultural Alliance.

“Over a year after Chicago’s stay at home order, there is still much uncertainty surrounding when our community will be able to fully engage with neighborhood cultural treasures once again, and the arts and culture sector is still the most uniquely affected among non-profits,” said David Farren, executive director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.  “It is incumbent upon our Foundation to redouble our efforts to assist our grantees immediately, and encourage our community to do the same whether it is through donations or purchasing tickets to programs.”

About Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation’s “Broadening Narratives” Collections Strategy

In September 2020, the Foundation announced the launch of Broadening Narratives, a major new Collections funding initiative to help museums, libraries, and other collecting organizations bring forward new and recovered narratives within the Foundation’s two geographies. Organizations whose collections illustrate BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints are eligible to apply.  Emerging, compelling, underrepresented perspectives reflective of collections in the areas of science, public health, and the natural world also are eligible. Any Chicago or Lowcountry-based non-profit organization with a relevant collection is encouraged to learn more about the strategy at  The next deadline for applications is July 30, 2021.

Collections traditionally have ensured that stories are preserved, added to, revisited, and reconsidered in context of the past, the present, and the future. Some narratives, however, have been less valued or overlooked because of decisions based—consciously or subconsciously—on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background, economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be unpopular, divisive, or outside the conventional thinking of the day. This new funding initiative is designed to be part of a new way forward in collections thinking as it shifts focus from the care and processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more inclusive narratives and perspectives through collections.

About Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation & How it Serves

The nearly 70-year old Foundation currently supports small arts nonprofits with an array of ongoing organizational development opportunities in addition to multi-year general operating grants (vs. program-specific). These gen op grants range from $2,500 to $13,500 annually, for Chicago organizations with budgets under $1 million, and $5,000 to $25,000 annually, for Lowcountry organizations.

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and South Carolina’s Lowcountry.  The Foundation serves these communities in the following ways:

·         Supplying multi-year general operating support for the majority of its grants.  Anecdotally, multi-year general operating support is the “gold standard” most valued by grantees.  It supports organizational stability, provides flexibility, and helps build further trust in relationships between funders and grantees

·         Providing value in addition to dollars. The Foundation’s strength is in the overall “value proposition” of its grants — the dollars, plus technical assistance support, sponsoring convenings, providing informal coaching, and paying for scholarships for conferences and other organizational development opportunities.

·         Establishing a number of touchpoints with grantees throughout the grant cycle. Every Foundation grantee, no matter the grant size, has contact with its program officer at least once a year, usually more often.  Beyond the money, they sponsor and attend cohort meetings, learning sessions, and informal gatherings with various grantee clusters.

Click HERE for photos


Press Contact:

Amanda Berrios/Elizabeth Neukirch
The Silverman Group, Inc.
847-421-8517 (cell)

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.