In Youth We Trust is a youth philanthropy program of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.

Established with a grant from the Ford Foundation in 1994, and endowed by a local donor, this program teaches grantmaking and leadership skills to today’s youth, preparing them to be the positive change of tomorrow.

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To be eligible for funding, an applicant must:

  • Be part of a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, not-for-profit agency, public institution (such as a school), and/or organized group carrying out a charitable purpose for the public good.
  • Operate within Boone, Ogle, Stephenson and/or Winnebago County.
  • Be a group that is primarily made up of members who are 19 years of age or younger.
  • Propose a project that is planned and implemented by youth.
  • Involve youth in every aspect of the grant process – writing the application, participating in applicant interviews, implementing the project, and participating in any grant check presentation for their organization.
  • Be current on all final reports for grants from the Community Foundation; if your organization has a program currently being funded with an In Youth We Trust grant and your final report is not yet due, you must submit an interim report letting us know the progress of your program (do not use the online final report form for this; submit a Word document. See “Final and Interim Reports” below for further instructions.)
  • Be operated and organized so that there is no discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran’s status, disability, or any other factor prohibited by applicable law.

Priority will be given to collaborative projects.

What We Look For

The In Youth We Trust Grant Program of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois looks for projects that:

  • Promote collaboration and teamwork.
  • Provide creative solutions to community issues.
  • Create community awareness and understanding of youth issues.
  • Have a clear, practical plan for implementation.
  • Have a realistic budget.

Grant Cycle & Amount

Note: There will be only one grant cycle during the 2017-18 school year.

The 2017-18 grant application will be available from December 8, 2017-February 8, 2018. Funds will be available in early April.

Applications are reviewed by the In Youth We Trust Council, a diverse group of 30-40 youth who make grant recommendations. The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees approves all grant awards.

Organizations may apply for a maximum of $2,500.

Reporting Requirements

Grant recipients are required to complete a Final Report by October 1 of the year the grant was awarded. Past grant recipients will be excluded from future grant consideration if the final report has not been submitted for prior funding. You will receive a link to the Final Report form when the grant is awarded.

Grant recipients will be invited to attend a reception in April, where they will have the opportunity to present their project plan to the public. Specific information will be included in your award letter.


The Community Foundation does not make grants from its In Youth We Trust Fund for the following:

  • For-profit organizations
  • Adult-inspired and implemented youth programs (Adult partners are encouraged to provide guidance but are not allowed to write the application or be the primary organizers of the project)
  • Salaries for adult advisors or coordinators
  • Projects and programs that promote a religion or require participation in a religious activity as a condition for receiving services. However, grants may be made to faith-based organizations for other purposes
  • Or to individuals

IYWT Council

Did you know that the recommendations for In Youth We Trust grants are made by a Council of high school-aged youth from our four-county service area? This is just one of the great things about participating in the In Youth We Trust Council – a unique grant program that teaches grantmaking, volunteerism, and leadership skills to today’s youth, preparing them to be the positive change of tomorrow. We’re always seeking new IYWT Council members – apply today!

Learn more about the In Youth We Trust Council

Budget Template for In Youth We Trust

Use this budget template when submitting an application to the In Youth We Trust Grant Program.

Online Application


The online application must be received on or before 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date.  Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.


How to Register & Apply

Apply Now


Contact Sarah Lambert

  +1 (779) 210-8207

Email Sarah

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