Grant Opportunities

The Community Foundation for McHenry County has redefined our grant opportunities to better serve our community. Please review the information below to learn more about the exciting ways we are supporting our county.

The purpose of The Community Foundation’s grant opportunities is to move forward in our mission of “connecting those who care with causes that matter” by supporting the charitable organizations that provide vital community resources to the residents of our McHenry County.

Community Grants are awarded from The Community Foundation’s Permanent Endowment Fund through a competitive process. There is a single cycle annually for each grant opportunity in which competitive applications can be submitted.

Community Grants

There are two types of Community Grants, Transformational Grants and Mission Grants. Please review the following grant opportunities to determine the best fit for your organization’s needs.

Transformational Grants:

  • What is a Transformational Grant?
    • Transformational Grants are designed to support a charitable organization (or a group of organizations) through the expansion of an idea or assist with a work in progress that will lead to organizational advancement.
    • Transformational Grantees must focus on the values of their mission and produce measurable results that positively impact the community as a whole.
  • Details:
    • Up to three Transformational Grants will be awarded per year.
    • Organizations must apply annually, and are eligible to receive up to $75,000 per year.
    • Organizations are eligible to win up to three years in a row, for a possible total of $225,000.
    • Collaboration among agencies is highly recommended and will be considered during the review process.
    • Transformational Grantees and The Community Foundation are partners and will work together on collaborative efforts. As such, there are additional requirements for the application, reporting, and publicity related to Transformational Grants. Details are listed below in the appropriate sections. 

Mission Grants

  • What is a Mission Grant?
    • Mission Grants are designed to provide support for new and current projects, or to provide general operating dollar to organizations providing community resources to McHenry County.
    • Mission Grantees must identify success measures that positively impact the community and the amount of money needed to achieve their goals. 
  • Details:
    • The number of Mission Grant recipients will depend on the funds available for grants through The Community Foundation each year.
    • Organizations must apply annually, and are eligible to receive up to $25,000 per year.
    • Organizations are eligible to win up to three years in a row, for a possible total of $75,000.
    • Collaboration among agencies is highly recommended.
    • Mission Grantees will have a responsibility to complete reporting and publicity requirements.

Please review the following criteria for The Community Foundation’s grant opportunities. If you have questions, please contact Kelsey Podgorski, Program Manager, at or 815-338-4483.

General Eligibility Requirements

Community Grant opportunities are available to agencies and charitable organizations that fit the following criteria:

  • Nonprofit agencies located in McHenry County or agencies that are able to demonstrate significant impact within McHenry County. 
  • Nonprofit agencies with evidence of tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or agencies using a 501(c)(3) fiscal agent. 

Additional guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Grants are made for one year only and funded projects must be completed one year from receipt of the check. Reporting is required for all funded projects.
  • The Community Foundation encourages collaboration in both execution and funding of projects.
  • The Community Foundation supports projects which have been planned in light of overall community needs and which do not duplicate existing services.
  • Projects that demonstrate a capacity to be sustainable in the future are favorable.

Governmental Compliance:

All organizations must be compliant with appropriate government agencies. Applicants are not required to submit paperwork for this, however The Community Foundation staff will verify through the websites listed below. 

  • Exempt organizations must be recognized as tax-exempt and in good standing with the IRS, with timely filed information returns (federal form 990).
  • All organizations must be corporations in good standing with the Illinois Secretary of State.
  • All 501(c)(3) organizations must be registered as a charitable organization with the Illinois Attorney General with timely filed annual reports (form AG990-IL). 

Your status can be verified electronically, as follows:

Number of Submissions

In an effort to reach as many organizations in the County as possible, one eligible nonprofit entity may receive only one (1) grant over the course of The Community Foundation’s fiscal year, October 1 – September 30. 

An organization may only submit one application for a Transformational Grant per year. Organizations that apply for a Transformational Grant that are not selected as a recipient may also submit an application for a Mission Grant within the same fiscal year. 

An organization may only submit one application for a Mission Grant per year. 

Not to Be Considered:

The Foundation will NOT Fund:

  • Endowment campaigns.
  • Individuals.
  • Programs that require adherence to a particular religious belief or practice to receive services (faith-based organizations serving the community-at-large will be considered).
  • Political campaigns or endeavors.
  • Operating deficits or liquidation of existing debt.

Applying for a Community Grant

Application Processes

Detailed instructions on applying for Community Grants will be posted at the opening of each RFP. The application process varies based on the grant opportunity for which an organization is applying. 

  • Transformational Grants: 
    • The RFP and application will open on January 15, 2020. The application process will include the following:
      1. Applicants must attend a Transformational Grant Workshop to be eligible to apply.
      2. A Letter of Intent will be required, and select eligible applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal. 
      3. Applicants invited to submit a full proposal must attend a second workshop outlining Logic Models pertaining to Transformational Grants, and should incorporate that information into their grant application. 
      4. Finalists will be invited to give a brief presentation to the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors. 
      5. Transformational Grant recipients will be notified and a site visit will be scheduled to present a check.
  • Mission Grants:
    • The RFP and application will open May 6, 2020. The application process will include the following:
      1. Applicants must attend a Mission Grant Workshop to be eligible to apply.
      2. Brown Bag review sessions will be available, but are not required. 
      3. No LOI is required, all applicants should submit a full proposal.
      4. Mission Grant recipients will be notified and asked to participate in a Grant Award Celebration event. 

In preparation of RFPs opening, review the information on this page in it’s entirely. Print and save for your records. 

Please note, all applications must be completed and submitted to The Community Foundation for McHenry County by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the deadline. 

Grant Process Timelines

Please review and save the following dates for your records. Please note that all grant funds should be spent within one year of receipt.

Transformational Grants Timeline:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
and Tuesday, January 21, 2020

LOI Open, Grant Workshops (Must attend one date)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Grant Workshop

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


February 19-24, 2020

Site Visits

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Full Proposal Invitations Distributed

Wednesday, March 4, 2020,
and Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Workshops – Logic Model Formulation (Must attend one date)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Full Application Due

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Projects Presented to Board of Directors

Friday, April 24, 2020

Grant Recipients Notified

The Week of May 25, 2020

Check Distribution and Site Visit

Mission Grants Timeline:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
and Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Application Open, Grant Workshops (Must attend one date)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
and Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Brown Bag Review Sessions

Friday, June 19, 2020

Application Due

Friday, July 24, 2020

Grant Recipients Notified

Date TBA

Grant Award Celebration

Review Process

  • Applications are reviewed using a standard rubric and scoring system for each type of grant opportunity. The grant scoring systems for Transformational Grants and Mission Grants will be available for viewing at the associated grant workshops.

  • Funding in previous years does not imply continued support. Each application is reviewed in the context of current policies and applications. 

  • Previous reporting will likely be taken into consideration when determining the eligibility of an organization to apply for a grant, and may impact a grant application’s overall score. 

  • Important factors that will be reviewed include proposed outcomes (impact) and evaluation strategy, a budget specific to McHenry County, and more.


Accurate and complete reporting is required for all grant opportunities. Report forms and reminders will be sent out prior to reporting deadlines for all Community Grants. 

Two reports are required for all Community Grants:

  1. A midterm report will be due six months from the receipt of funding.
  2. A final report is due one year from the receipt of funding.

In addition to these reports, Transformational Grantees will be required to schedule three site visits throughout the year for (but not limited to) staff of The Community Foundation.  

As part of the reporting process, all grantees must provide stories of impact and photos to be used by The Community Foundation to share your missions and activities with the community. 

  • Please note: All people included in photos must sign a Media Release Form. For individuals under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must sign a Media Release Form. 
  • The Community Foundation will not accept photos without a signed release form. Reports including photos submitted without signed release forms will not be accepted. 
  • Click here to download The Community Foundation’s Media Release Form.

Please note, grants funded through Donor Advised Funds will not have the same reporting requirements. Please plan to send a thank you note to The Community Foundation, which will be forwarded to the Fund Advisor(s). Additionally, any updates provided to The Community Foundation will be shared with the Fund Advisor(s).


For information on how to prepare for and properly develop a grant application, The Community Foundation recommends attending classes through the Nonprofit GROW Program offered at Volunteer Center McHenry County.

Grant Opportunities Presentation Powerpoint (.PPTX)