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Grant Guidelines

What We Fund

Three children and two teachers playing on a slide The Special Kids Foundation is a private independent foundation. To be eligible for support organizations must:

  • Serve children, found or at risk to be found, with developmental disabilities, other than mental illness, resulting in significant impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior.
  • A condition manifested before the person reaches age 22.
  • A condition that is likely to continue indefinitely.
  • A condition that results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity:
    • Self-care
    • Receptive and expressive language
    • Learning
    • Mobility
    • Self-direction
    • Function and participation in family, school, work, community, and social activities
    • Capacity for independent living
    • Economic self-sufficiency
    • We pride ourselves on being a hands-on foundation that awards yearly grants to organizations that serve children and families in the metropolitan Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Will, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

Grants are awarded in six program areas:

  • Enrichment
  • Education
  • Early Intervention
  • Transition
  • Treatment
  • Parent Support/Outreach/Respite

Applications are only accepted from eligible 501(c)(3) organizations. We provide funds that fall within our mission to support organizations that make a positive impact in the lives of children with developmental disabilities through education, treatment and/or inclusion. We will not consider applications requesting funds only for operating expenses. Any requests for building renovations must directly affect the children served. Priority is given to support direct services to children.

Grant Policies

  1. Photo of hands signing papersThe number of grants consecutively awarded to a single agency shall be limited to two. If the limitation is reached, the agency must wait one year before submitting a new grant application.
  2. The number of grants consecutively rejected shall be limited to two. If the limitation is reached, the agency must wait one year before submitting a new grant application.
  3. The Foundation will only consider one-year grants.
  4. The Foundation will consider only one application from each organization.
  5. All monies awarded must be allocated by the agency during the year specified by the Grant Contract.
  6. Grant monies cannot be spent before the award is given. In addition, grant monies cannot be used to repay loans or invoices for work already completed or in progress prior to the award.
  7. The word “children” is defined as persons up to the age of 22 years.

How to Apply

Photo of a pencil tip and several check boxesBefore submitting a grant proposal, please thoroughly review the foundation's: 

       -   Mission statement 
       -   Definition for developmental disability 
       -   Geographic area review

Grant applications must be in our office by the due date. The annual application form is posted on the website no later than January 15th. Please answer all the questions on the application form and be sure to include all requested attachments with your proposal.

Download the 

If your proposal arrives incomplete, we will notify you of its missing components. You will have three days from the due date to provide the missing information. Special Kids Foundation has a two-stage review process. First, all applications are read and evaluated by the volunteer Grant Committee. At our meeting, held in the Spring, the committee determines which applications will proceed to the second stage, a site visit. Site visits are conducted throughout the summer. Final meetings are held in July and/or August to make the final grant decisions. Grant checks are awarded at an event in September.