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In Youth We Trust - Adult/Nonprofit Grants

Grant Information Grant Status: Closed Applications Open: February 1, 2024 Applications Close: March 1, 2024 Awards Announced: May 2024 Learn How to Register & Apply

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, In Youth We Trust (IYWT) teaches grantmaking, volunteerism, and leadership skills to today’s youth, preparing them to be the positive change of tomorrow. Since its inception, IYWT has granted over $500,000 to youth projects in Boone, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties.

This year, the IYWT Council will distribute up to $40,000 to community projects that benefit local youth. For the 2023-2024 school year IYWT will have two grant cycles: one for proposals written by youth for youth-led, youth-benefiting projects , and one for proposals written by nonprofit organizations for the purpose of serving youth. 

The Fall cycle for proposals will be for those written by youth and will open October 16, 2023, and close November 16, 2023. Youth organization applicants should be prepared to attend a short interview on December 16th to answer questions relating to their proposal. The updated youth grant application will be a paper/fillable pdf application and will be available on this webpage in the middle of October.

The spring cycle for proposals written by adult nonprofit organizations serving youth will open February 1, 2024, and close March 1, 2024. The adult application will be available through the grant portal at the beginning of February.

This page describes the guidelines and process to apply for the nonprofit (adult) In Youth We Trust grant cycle. Please visit this page to view details about the youth-written In Youth We Trust grant cycle.

IYWT Nonprofit/Adult Grant Application - PDF VersionIYWT Nonprofit/Adult Grant Guidelines
IYWT Grant Budget TemplateIYWT Grant Sample BudgetIYWT Grant Sample Budget Narrative


To be eligible to apply for funding from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ IYWT Grant, an applicant must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization OR a religious organization, unit of government, or public university/college. 

Up to $20,000 will be awarded. The maximum that an organization can request is $5,000.

Who we fund:

  • Nonprofit organizations providing services or programing to youth within Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, or Stephenson counties. 

We look for proposals that:

  • Help youth recognize the important role they play within their communities,
  • Provide solutions to community issues facing youth,
  • Have a clear and practical plan for implementation,
  • Have a realistic budget, and
  • Have measurable and meaningful results.

IWT will not fund:

  • Individuals
  • For-profit organizations
  • Projects and programs that promote a religion or require participation in religious activities as a condition for receiving services. Grants may be made to faith-based organizations for other purposes.
  • Projects or organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national/ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran’s status, disability, or any other factor prohibited by applicable law.

The application for the IYWT Grant has seven sections: 

  1. Project Information: Asks for basic information about your proposal.
  2. Results: Asks  about your anticipated results, and how you intend to measure and track your results.
  3. Impact: Ask about the population you intend to serve and your organizational impact. 
  4. Promotion: Asks about how you plan to promote your charitable activity and your IYWT Grant.
  5. Budget: Asks for a detailed proposal budget and narrative.
  6. Other Information: Asks if there is anything else you would like the Council to know about your proposal.
  7. Certification: States the terms and conditions for applying for and administering a grant from CFNIL’s In Youth We Trust Program.

View a PDF version of the IYWT Nonprofit/Adult Grant Application

Applications must be submitted through CFNIL’s Web Portal (same portal used for the Community Grants program) by 5 p.m. on March 1, 2024. To learn how to register and apply using the Web Portal, visit cfnil.org/grant-resources. Funds for awarded grants will be available by the beginning of May. If you are awarded the grant, there will be a grant reception held May 9, 2024 to honor and promote recipients. Contact Heather Cunningham at iywt@cfnil.org with questions. 

All proposals should  be charitable activities that serve youth directly:

  • Project – The duration of the charitable activity described in the proposal has a beginning and ending date, and lasts between one week and three years. Example: Care packages to homeless youth.
  • Program – The duration of the charitable activity described in the proposal is ongoing. Example: Safe centers for study during and after school hours.
  • Capital/Commodity – If you are purchasing equipment, a commodity, or making a minor capital improvement that will allow you to serve or further your ability to serve youth. If a capital/commodity purchase is not the primary expense of a charitable activity, choose Project/Program as appropriate. Examples: Providing sanitary supplies such as clean masks, sanitary wipes, hand sanitizers, etc.

It is important to solidify a plan on how you will measure your results and the tools you will use. Examples: surveys, how many participants attended, or receipt for item purchased.  

You are expected to submit a final report by the following October to tell us the outcome of the charitable activity using the methods of measurements you stated in your application. If you do not submit a final report you will not be eligible for funding in the future.

Questions? Issues with your application? Contact Us!

Heather Cunningham, Program Coordinator and IYWT Liaison, headshot
Heather Cunningham
Program Coordinator and IYWT Liaison
Phone: 779-210-8209
Email: Heather Cunningham