The Community Grants program supports a wide range of nonprofit organizations, projects, programs, and events in Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties.


  • The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit grantmaking institution started in 1953.
  • Its founders envisioned that CFNIL would be a perpetual reservoir of philanthropy for the people of Northern Illinois.
  • Since its beginning, CFNIL has provided over $65 million of grants and scholarships to benefit the people of Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties.


  • CFNIL is committed to fairness, objectivity, and inclusion in its grantmaking.
  • Each grant application is evaluated on its merits against established criteria and best practices in grantmaking.
  • Volunteer community advisors review and recommend grants to CFNIL’s volunteer board of trustees.
  • Over 150 volunteers in any given year represent the talent, diversity, and good judgment of our region’s citizens.
  • A professional staff coordinates the work of the volunteers and tends to the day-to-day business of serving donors, managing and investing over 400 endowed funds, and administering CFNIL’s grant and scholarship programs.

Focus Areas

  • The Community Grants program is organized into six Focus Areas:
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Education
  • Health
  • Human Services
  • Sustainable Communities
  • Youth & Family
  • Within Education, CFNIL makes strategic grants to place-based scholarship endowments, after-school programs, and career pathways initiatives.
  • CFNIL’s strategy, known as Education Works, supports projects, programs, and events that provide education for employment.
  • Volunteer community advisors bring both broad and specific community and subject matter expertise to the grant review process in the six Focus Areas.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions to the Community Grants Program are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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