There is a gap in funding and support for “emerging” nonprofits in Chicago. We fill that gap and help to catalyze their impact. 

We identify "emerging" as the growth stage in an organization's development. We invest in organizations who are at a pivot point in their development. They have demonstrated viability but still lack the visibility and financial backing to grow at the speed their trajectory would otherwise merit. An investment during the emerging stage helps promising organizations avoid the ‘nonprofit plateau’ and increase their potential to propel change.

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Our Funding Priorities - Root Causes of Poverty, Not Bandaids

We believe that poverty does not exist in silos. Our funding priorities are intended to support the myriad of ways organizations are addressing systematic challenges affecting root causes of poverty in Chicago. We invest in five interconnected impact areas where poverty is most visible and where intervention can have a profound impact on one’s ability to achieve economic mobility.


We support organizations working to increase the availability and quality of early childhood education, strengthen schools, target college transition and completion, or providing critical life and job skills for students. 

Economic Development

We support organizations that promote fair wages and equal access to job training programs to advance skill development, create job opportunities, promote asset building, or work towards economic revitalization in neighborhoods.


We support organizations that provide holistic support and increase access to transitional shelters or long-term, safe and affordable housing opportunities.

Community Mobilization

We support organizations that are building holistic, inclusive, and community-wide opportunities that address violence through restorative justice, provide legal support, or promote parent involvement.


We support organizations that increase availability and access to quality preventative healthcare, including mental health or provide pathways for creating an inventory of nutritious and affordable food choices.


Eligibility Requirements

In addition to these characteristics, eligible organizations must meet the following eligibility requirements to be considered for an NCF partnership:

  • Registered as a 501(c)3 organization with the IRS or have a fiscal sponsor.

  • Work in Chicago and provide support to individuals and communities that address root causes of poverty. 

  • Have evidence of impact, as well as an evaluation framework to measure progress and outcomes.

  • Have a theory of change that clearly demonstrates how the impact model and strategy increase possibility in Chicago.

  • Have a visionary leader with strong business acumen, exceptional problem-solving skills, and a ground-level view of Chicago’s diverse challenges.

  • We do not consider political advocacy groups, research institutions, or grantmaking organizations.

  • We prioritize investing in social entrepreneurs of color.

  • We prioritize organizations that already have or plan to diversify their revenue by leveraging earned income opportunities.

Exceptions to NCF’s core eligibility requirements may apply, including consideration of emerging programs within larger parent organizations that operate semi-autonomously.

Should we work together?

We expect to identify most of our first round of portfolio organizations through proactive searching rather than unsolicited proposals. However, if you feel your organization has the essential characteristics we’ve outlined above, you meet our eligibility criteria, and you believe our missions align, please introduce yourself. Connect with us.