Grant Guidelines

The Washington Square Health Foundation grant making process is conducted by the Board of Directors in an impartial manner based upon an evaluation of each project request. Therefore, solicitation of individual members of the Washington Square Health Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors by potential recipients for specific Washington Square Health Foundation, Inc. grant requests is discouraged.  Priorities for funding will vary from time to time. Even though a project meets established criteria, it may not be adopted because of limited funds or other priorities.

Washington Square Health Foundation, Inc. Grants do not merely provide funds to an existing project, however worthy. They must be designed to provide significant health related benefits. Projects must have the support of appropriate organizations and/or governmental units in the community where the project is to be carried out. To be eligible for consideration, projects must be efforts involving a not for profit tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization or association as a sponsor. The grant request must be submitted by an organization exempt from income tax under sec. 501 (c)(3), and designated as a public charity under section 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2), of the Internal Revenue Code. Washington Square Health Foundation does not provide grants to section 509(a)(3) “supporting organizations.” Your most recent IRS Determination Letter should state your status as a 501(c)(3) organization with a 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2) designation.

At the February 2013 Board Retreat, the following broad categories were identified for consideration of  future service and funding needs of grantees by “filling the gaps” of  ACA:

  • Senior home care, including visits and services;
  • Senior medication and care plan compliance;
  • Improving the discharge planning process;
  • Additional resources needed for specialty care for Medicaid and ACA Exchange insured populations;
  • Enhanced funding for social services that are not funded through the ACA;
  • The need to maintain current level of competency of health care providers and expansion of scopes of practice only when appropriate based on education and experience;
  • Enhanced cooperation and communication between local health care providers and public health services, both state and local;
  • Support for enrolling currently non-covered populations in the ACA exchanges;
  • Funding for specific health care and related social services not funded or adequately funded by the ACA;
  • Reconsider the foundation’s role in playing a lead role in major disease focused projects; and
  • Consider as funding priorities, health care facilities and services not otherwise receiving significant government and third party reimbursement.

Within the above framework, the following criteria have been established by the Board of Directors of the Washington Square Health Foundation.

Specific Grant Making Guidelines

The grant/project must:

  1. be applicable to one of the following categories: Direct Health Care Services, Medical Research, or Medical Education. (see fundable grants)
  2. reasonably ensure continued support after involvement by the Washington Square Health Foundation is discontinued.
  3. not involve liability to the Washington Square Health Foundation except to provide the amount of the grant.
  4. involve active participation by the sponsor which must be a not for profit tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization, institution, or association.
  5. demonstrably benefit others beyond the individual organization recipient of the grant.
  6. not benefit a Washington Square Health Foundation Director; an employee of Washington Square Health Foundation; or a spouse, a lineal descendant (child or grandchild by blood or any legally adopted child), a spouse of a lineal descendant, or an ancestor (parent or grandparent by blood) of any living Washington Square Health Foundation Director or Washington Square Health Foundation employee.
  7. not duplicate any existing Foundation grant.
  8. not involve the purchase of land or the payment of general administration costs for the sponsoring organization.
  9. not involve the establishment of a permanent foundation or trust or a permanent interest-bearing account, or involve support for the general operating costs of any organization.
  10. not involve any of the following:
    • carrying on propaganda or otherwise attempt to influence legislation.
    • restrict the services or facilities or employment provided by the grant to individuals based on race, creed, color, sex or national origin.
  11. not involve construction or capital fund raising campaigns.
  12. if a direct health care service project, the project must be located in the Chicago Metropolitan area or impact or be “linked” to the Chicago Metropolitan Area.
  13. have an up-to-date annual community health care report for the Principles for Community Health Care on file with the Donors Forum (see below). Until these forms are available on the Donors Forum website, a copy should be uploaded with the grant application.

Principles for Community Health Care

Representatives from Chicago area foundations, with input from public health,
hospital, payer and community based health care organizations, have developed
Principles for Community Health Care. These principles reinforce the value
placed by the philanthropic community on activities to increase access to health
care among at-risk populations and expand capacity to address important health
care needs. They will offer grant makers a consistent approach to assessing the
commitment of potential grantees to these community health goals. The criteria
are included to clarify the meaning of each broad principle.

  1. Provides service to high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged in the community.
    Criteria- Demonstration that the organization has:

    • Collected assessment data about the health care needs of high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged populations in service area.
    • Implemented targeted activities to increase the accessibility of health care services to one or more high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged population(s).
    • Designed and implemented with community involvement new or expanded services to address the health care needs of one or more high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged population(s).
    • Identified opportunities to increase assets of high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged communities such as by employing community members as staff in health programs, locating health service delivery sites in the community, negotiating purchasing contracts with local businesses for health service-related products.
  2. Establishes decision making links with high-risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged communities.
    Criteria- Demonstration that the organization has:

    • Implemented a process to gather input from community leaders representing one or more high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged population(s).
    • Developed formal mechanisms to include community leaders in decision making roles such as through advisory committees, board representation, or other means.
  3. Partners with relevant providers and other community based organizations.
    Criteria- Demonstration that the organization has:

    • Partnered with a wide variety of others including competitors and community based organizations to provide services effectively and efficiently to high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged populations.
    • Developed linkages with other related programs to promote continuity of care.
  4. Utilizes a community-oriented approach to program development.
    Criteria - Demonstration that the organization has incorporated the following dimensions into program development for high-risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged populations:

    • Documentation of need from multiple perspectives including target population.
    • Involvement of clients in program decision making and implementation.
    • Partnerships with other relevant providers and community organizations.
    • Incorporation of continuous quality improvement processes to identify/resolve problems and monitor outcomes.
    • Inclusion of actions to promote financial sustainability of program(s).


The Principles for Community Health Care are NOT specific to an individual grant but will provide background information to complement a general organizational profile.

Important Notes

  1. Each health care organization applying for grant funds to a Chicago area foundation should complete the narrative report. The actual principles and criteria follow. The report should be submitted to the Donors Forum of Chicago. A completed report must also be uploaded with the grant application and will be reviewed as an extension of the organizational background section. The information should be updated once a year.
  2. Grantmakers recognize the diversity of organizations that provide health services. The principles will be applied flexibly, taking these differences into consideration.
  3. Each grantmaker will use the information provided within the context of their own grantmaking process and priorities.
  4. The terms high-risk, underserved, and disadvantaged are not defined more precisely because these target populations will vary greatly by community and organization.


Format for Community Health Care Report

To provide potential funders with information about how your organization is addressing the principles and associated criteria, please answer the following questions in three to five pages (single space, 12 point type or larger, 1 inch margins), upload the report to the online grant application and submit a copy to the Donors Forum of Chicago. This information should be updated once a year.


  1. Identify the high risk/underserved and/or disadvantaged populations in the community(ies) that you serve and describe specifically the actions you have taken, based on relevant assessment data, to increase their accessibility to health services.
  2. Describe specifically the strategies you have used to gather input from high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged population and their leaders as a basis for program or service development.
  3. Describe specific partnerships with other providers and community-based organizations to promote continuity of health care for high risk/underserved and/or disadvantaged populations.
  4. Provide two examples of how you have used the community-oriented approach to program development specified in the attached principles to develop a program of service for high risk/underserved and/or disadvantaged populations specified in the guidelines. Include in each description components of the current program and the following quantitative information for the most recent year available:
  5. Number of clients served
  6. Total amount budgeted by your organization for the program
  7. Percent that program budget is of total agency budget
  8. Percent of program budget that is directly reimbursed by third party payers
  9. Percent of program budget that is covered by public/private grants

Submit this information to:

Donors Forum of Chicago
Director, Member Services
208 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1540
Chicago, IL 60604

Additional Grant Making Policies and Guidelines

  • If your grant request includes new medical/healthcare equipment, please investigate whether reconditioned and/or used equipment can be substituted.

Guidelines for funding HIV/AIDS Projects

The following guidelines should be used as a way to focus grant funding on areas where the foundation can have a significant impact given the changing face of the epidemic, the multiple providers and funders involved, and the broad range of needs. These guidelines represent overall priorities for funding, not absolute rules about what can and cannot be funded. Extraordinary circumstances and/or an extraordinary grant proposal, for example, might result in funding a non-priority activity. The guidelines should be reexamined on an annual basis to assess their match with current needs.

  1. New funding should address the needs of high risk and underserved populations where current HIV/AIDS transmission is concentrated. These include women, adolescents, undocumented immigrants, and men of color who have sex with men. Program strategies to address these priority populations should represent interventions that are accessible, acceptable and effective within these cultures. Applicant organizations should demonstrate that they have experience working with these populations and legitimacy within the high risk communities.
  2. Projects requesting funding for direct health care should be considered, especially for the priority populations described above. Direct health care includes primary medical care, home care, hospice care in residences, mental health services, nutritional care, dentistry, day health care, and ancillary health care services such as physical therapy. Case management services should not be a priority, first because of the support of these services by the AIDs Foundation, and second because of the lack of consensus about their scope. .,M.D.
  3. Priority should be given to projects that increase the availability of specialty HIV/AIDS health care through primary care networks. This can increase the cost-effectiveness of care overall and accessibility by those who are unlikely to utilize AIDs-specific agencies or services or through a greater integration of neighborhood clinics with primary care networks.
  4. Projects requesting funding for supportive services such as peer support should be considered, especially for the priority populations. Homemaker and transportation services are not a priority.
  5. Volunteer programs should be funded only on a limited basis and only when they meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • represent consolidation of volunteer services across agencies
    • demonstrate cost-effective delivery of care including adequate recruitment and retention of volunteers
    • serve a priority population
    • demonstrate an innovative use of volunteers
    • provide material support such as food for a food pantry within an already existing program
  6. Projects with alternative therapies should be considered only if they have a strong research/evaluation component that could produce evidence of impact on health status and/or quality of life outcomes.
  7. The following types of projects are not recommended for current funding consideration:
    • Clinical and biomedical research regarding HIV/AIDs because of the availability of federal and pharmaceutical funding
    • Prevention programs because of the availability of state, local and other foundation funding
    • Health services research/policy questions such as HIV/AIDS within managed care because of national projects already underway in this area
    • Medication coverage for patients because of the enormous cost per patient ($9-12,000 per year)
  8. All projects should have clearly stated and measurable objectives for which monitoring data can be collected over the course of the project regarding attainment of these objectives.