We think of "emerging" as the growth stage in an organization's development. 

We partner with organizations that have demonstrated viability but still lack the visibility and financial backing to grow at the speed they would otherwise merit. We believe that investment during the emerging stage can help prevent promising organizations from plateauing and increase their potential to propel change.

Three essential characteristics.

The organizations we support must exhibit three essential characteristics:

1. Actively deploy distinct impact models that reframe the problem, extend best practices, and respond to unmet needs.

2. Can demonstrate promising outcomes and are poised to grow.

3. Are at a stage where an NCF investment would be transformative; typically with budgets under $1.5 million (often 3 to 10 years old).


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 on one or more of our five interrelated impact areas: housing, education, economic development, community mobilization, and wellbeing.
  • Provide support to individuals and communities that address root causes of poverty. We do not consider political advocacy groups, research institutions, or grantmaking organizations.
  • 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.

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.