We are currently seeking opportunities to invest in high-performing organizations that are improving outcomes for students in pre-k through 8th grade.



A Better Chicago is committed to ensuring that every Chicagoan receives a world-class education. We invest growth capital and management support in a portfolio of high-performing nonprofits that are providing low-income students with high-quality educational opportunities along the path from pre-k through college graduation. 

We are currently conducting a targeted search for scalable ideas and programs that dramatically improve students’ academic trajectories in pre-k through 8th grade.

We welcome applications from established organizations with a track record of success, promising early stage organizations, and entrepreneurial leaders with investible ideas. Eligible candidates may be currently operating in the Chicago region or considering launching here. The deadline for priority consideration is March 23, 2018.

High-potential programs are:

  • Closing achievement gaps in critical academic areas (e.g., kindergarten-readiness, 3rd grade literacy)
  • Preparing students to succeed in high school (e.g., preparing middle school students to be academically “on-track” in 9th grade)
  • Helping struggling students catch up (e.g., preventing summer slide, providing academic remediation)

If selected, programs will receive:

  • Unrestricted grants of up to $1M over three years
  • Significant capacity-building support in areas such as strategic planning, leadership development and program innovation
  • Deep thought partnership and connections throughout the Chicago nonprofit and philanthropic space


Four criteria areas guide our assessment of fit for investment:


  • Compelling program model produces a meaningful lift in key educational outcomes
  • Students served are between pre-k and college graduation and primarily come from low-income backgrounds


  • Leadership (e.g., executive director, management team, board) is capable of mobilizing resources, building strong teams and driving results
  • Leadership demonstrates a commitment to transparency and data-driven decision-making


  • Organization is financially and operationally sound with reliable systems in place and/or has a thoughtful business plan demonstrating an understanding of the resources and infrastructure required to grow with quality


  • Program model is designed to scale meaningfully with a high level of fidelity
  • Leadership is committed to growing significantly in the Chicago region


To be considered for investment, the first step is to submit a brief application.

Applications received by March 23, 2018 will be prioritized for review by A Better Chicago, and high-potential candidates will be shared with a set of other funders who have expressed interest in learning about organizations identified through this targeted search. 


Q: I have additional questions. How can I learn more?
A: We will be hosting two info sessions via webinar. Sign up here!

Q: I’ve applied! When will I know the status of my application?
A: A Better Chicago utilizes a rigorous, multi-stage assessment process to select grantees. All applicants will be notified of their status by April 6. At that time, A Better Chicago will request additional information from applicants invited to proceed in the consideration process.

Q: Can we apply if we are not a nonprofit?
A: A Better Chicago invests in organizations with a 501(c)3 status. That said, if you are in the process of applying for this status and would be willing to use a fiscal agent until your status is confirmed, we welcome you to apply.

Q: How does A Better Chicago determine grant size?
A: Grant amounts and duration are customized based on an organization’s stage of development, growth plans, and performance. We will provide an estimated grant range for each applicant that advances in our assessment process.

Q: Can I schedule a meeting with A Better Chicago staff to discuss projects and/or funding opportunities?
A: Due to the large number of requests we receive, we are unable to accommodate requests for meetings at this time, but we encourage you to learn more by participating in one of our upcoming webinars.

Please share this opportunity with your network!