Grant Guidelines

Two distinct funding programs are available at the Driehaus Foundation:

Driehaus Foundation Grants

Built Environment, Arts and Culture, Investigative Journalism for Government Accountability, Economic Opportunity for the Working Poor

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The MacArthur Funds for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

Arts and Culture

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Driehaus Foundation Grants

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation makes grants in four program areas: Built Environment, Arts and Culture, Investigative Journalism for Government Accountability, and Economic Opportunity for the Working Poor.


The Driehaus Foundation encourages any organization seeking support to carefully review the Foundation's funding guidelines and eligibility requirements before making an inquiry. In addition, the Foundation is not accepting any new proposals for the Economic Opportunity program in 2021.

Please note the following:

  • The vast majority of grants go to organizations residing in, and working in, the Chicago area. 
  • We usually do not fund large organizations with multi-million-dollar budgets.

In addition to the guidelines above, we do not support:

  • Arts learning; arts outreach; individual restoration projects; community theater and community dance; health care; public, private, or parochial education
  • Scholarships or tuition assistance
  • Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction
  • Projects that promote or proselytize any religion
  • Organizations that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any veteran's status
  • Individuals, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying

Please review the funding priorities for the program area in which you are interested:

Built Environment

Arts and Culture*

Investigative Journalism for Government Accountability

Economic Opportunity for the Working Poor

*The Driehaus Foundation also partners with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to provide general operating support to arts and cultural organizations in Chicago with annual budgets up to $500,000. Scroll down to read the guidelines for this separate funding program.

The MacArthur Funds for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

One sees, hears, and feels the heartbeat of Chicago in storefront theaters, neighborhood museums, music in the parks, and so much more that is modest in scale but enormous in spirit. Small and mid-size cultural endeavors in Chicago provide a voice for who we are and who we can become. This extraordinary part of Chicago's cultural community reflects our shared humanity - what connects us, what inspires us, what challenges us, and what heals us and makes us whole.

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation partners with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support exemplary arts and cultural organizations in Chicago with budgets of up to $500,000. We provide general operating grants to more than 150 organizations that help enable these groups to present creative work to Chicago audiences as well as to sustain their operations, build their capacity, take risks, and otherwise thrive.


The MacArthur Funds for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation ("MacArthur-Driehaus") welcomes grant requests from small to mid-size organizations of all creative disciplines, including but not limited to:

  • Music and sound
  • Dance
  • Theater
  • Visual Arts
  • Literary Arts
  • Film and video
  • Museums and collections
  • Multi-media and interdisciplinary arts

While some grantees have programs that involve arts learning and outreach, MacArthur-Driehaus funds organizations whose PRIMARY purpose is the professional, public presentation of work.

Our goal is to advance the abundance and diversity of Chicago's vibrant cultural community. MacArthur-Driehaus prioritizes funding for organizations that demonstrate all of the following:

  • Artistic technique at a consistently high skill level and creative depth and complexity in the work it presents to the public 
  • Effective planning, evidenced by realistic and measurable objectives for programs and administration as well as a good history of achieving what it sets out to do
  • Strong leadership, including indicators that its leadership team manages the organization effectively and responsibly
  • Solid financial management 
  • Reach that engages a broad and diverse audience or individuals who are under-represented in the local arts ecosystem

We also factor relevance, particularly in building empathy, acceptance, equity, and empowerment for Chicagoans.  

In our assessment of an organization's merit as outlined above, the Driehaus Foundation takes into account where that organization is in its evolution as well as its unique challenges and opportunities.


Applicants must have completed at least one full year of programming and operations. In addition, those eligible to apply are: 

  • Nonprofit organizations with 501c3 status from the Internal Revenue Service or formal, organized groups with a fiscal sponsor
  • In good standing with the Illinois Secretary of State at the time of submission
  • Groups with actual income or expenses of under $500,000, excluding in-kind support, in the most recently completed fiscal year

The vast majority of organizations supported by MacArthur-Driehaus are based in the city of Chicago and have the primary purpose of serving Chicago audiences. On occasion, we consider proposals from organizations outside the city if over 50% of its audience members reside with the Chicago city limits AND the applicant presents a strong case that the uniqueness of its work enhances Chicago's diverse cultural landscape to a substantial degree. Any prospective applicant based outside the city of Chicago must contact Suellen Burns to discuss eligibility prior to submitting a proposal.

Suellen Burns • Senior Program Director • The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation • P: 312-641-5772 • E:

We support some, though only a handful, of organizations with annual operating expenses under $20,000. The Driehaus Foundation encourages such prospective applicants to contact Suellen Burns to briefly discuss the scope and reach of their work before submitting a request.  

Other than the exceptions noted immediately above, MacArthur-Driehaus has an open application process, and any eligible organization may submit a request - regardless of whether the Driehaus Foundation is familiar with its work or with anyone from its leadership team prior to applying.

Public Presentation of Work 

Groups not currently funded by MacArthur-Driehaus should have public presented work that a representative of the Driehaus Foundation can experience firsthand during the four to five months that immediately follow the application deadline. If a group will not have publicly presented work in Chicago until six to twelve months after the application submission, it may still apply, but a positive outcome might be unlikely until the subsequent year. The Driehaus Foundation does not see a group's work until it has submitted an application.


MacArthur-Driehaus does not support: 

  • Individuals
  • Program-specific requests
  • Organizations that focus primarily on serving audiences outside of the city of Chicago
  • Groups that are legally, financially, or operationally part of a larger institution, e.g., the art department of a college
  • Organizations that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, race, color, creed, religion, gender, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or veteran status
  • Work that promotes or proselytizes any religion
  • Political campaigns or legislative lobbying 
  • Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos
  • Endowments
  • Capital campaigns
  • Debt reduction

Organizations that have audited financial statements showing income AND expenses of over $500,000 (excluding in-kind support) in both of the two most recently completed fiscal years are ineligible for MacArthur-Driehaus. If a group’s actual income and expenses were between $500,000 and $2,000,000 for the two most recent years, please review Prince Charitable Trusts’ MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince eligibility.

Grant Award Amounts 

MacArthur-Driehaus general operating grants range from $3,000 to $20,000 a year.  

  • The Foundation makes awards of up to 10 percent of an organization's total actual expenses in the most recently completed fiscal year.
  • For groups that are racial and cultural equity organizations (please see definition further below) in MULTIPLE categories, the Foundation makes grant awards of up to 15 percent of the organization's total actual expenses in the most recently completed fiscal year.
  • First-time grantees typically come in at lower amounts.

What is a Racial and Cultural Equity Organization?  

By racial and cultural equity, the Driehaus Foundation means an organization that is one or more of the following: 

  • Focused primarily on artistic aesthetics rooted in the traditions of people of African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latinx, Middle Eastern, or Native American decent
  • Led by individuals who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, or people of color (BILPOC)
  • Majority of individuals who have decision-making authority and agency within the organization are BILPOC
  • Serves people of color as a PRIMARY part of its mission
  • Based in a low-income community
  • Primarily LGBTQ-focused
  • Primarily women-focused
  • Focused on people who are differently abled 

Indicators may include but are not limited to, racial and cultural presence in some combination of: a. Mission; b. Executive, artistic, and governance leadership; c. Programmatic content; d. Artists. 


Application deadlines, procedures, and additional information can be found here.

Please keep in mind that MacArthur-Driehaus grants are highly competitive, and there are always more qualified applicants than funds available. 

Annual Reporting 

The Driehaus Foundation requires a grant report, including narrative and financial information, after each year of the funding cycle. The deadline(s) is (are) indicated in the grant agreement. 

Please submit reports by logging into Fluxx, the Foundation’s online grants management system, and clicking "Reports Due." The Foundation does not accept grant reports by mail or email. 


Updated October 2021 


In addition to MacArthur-Driehaus funding, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation has a separate grantmaking program in Arts and Culture. Please click here for a detailed description of this separate Arts and Culture program. In most cases, organizations supported by the Foundation’s Arts and Culture program are not also funded by MacArthur-Driehaus. Please review the guidelines for both programs to determine which is the better fit for your organization.