Grantmaking Guidelines

The primary focus of the Michael Reese Health Trust is to improve the health status and well-being of vulnerable populations in the Chicago metropolitan area. The Health Trust is committed to supporting community-based health-related services and education that are effective, accessible, affordable, and culturally competent. We are especially interested in efforts to address the barriers that prevent vulnerable groups from accessing quality health care, and in programs that deliver comprehensive, coordinated services. 

We recognize that improving the health of vulnerable groups requires more than offering quality health care. Effective grantmaking must address the complex range of social, economic, and environmental factors that shape a community's health and well-being. To this end, the Health Trust supports efforts to document effective delivery models and implementation strategies, health policy advancement as well as projects aimed at achieving lasting, systemic change. 

Target Populations

The Health Trust addresses the health concerns of the most vulnerable members of society, particularly those who are isolated by poverty, race or ethnicity, language, culture, and other factors that make them difficult to reach.

Our target populations include vulnerable:

  • Children and youth 
  • People with mental and physical challenges 
  • Seniors 
  • Victims and those at high-risk of violence 
  • Immigrants and refugees 
  • Uninsured, medically indigent, and other underserved populations 

Recognizing the Health Trust's Jewish heritage, we give special consideration to programs that serve members of the Jewish community who fall within these populations.  

Types of Support

The Health Trust will entertain requests for program support and general operating.  We will consider both one-year and multi-year requests. However, multi-year grants are generally considered for organizations that have received significant prior Health Trust support. Requests may be for continuation or expansion of a current program, or a new program.

Examples of the types of activities we support include:

  • Increasing access to quality health services 
  • Improving coordination of health services 
  • Innovative approaches to delivering community-based health services 
  • Services to improve community health through health promotion and disease prevention 
  • Education to improve the ability of health care providers to treat the targeted populations 
  • Policy analysis of health issues affecting target populations 
  • Advocacy aimed at improving health care systems for vulnerable groups 

The Health Trust does NOT make grants for:

  • Lobbying, propaganda, or other attempts to influence legislation 
  • Sectarian purposes (programs that promote or require a religious doctrine) 
  • Capital needs, such as buildings, renovations, vehicles, and major equipment 
  • Durable medical equipment 
  • Fundraising events, including sponsorship, tickets, and advertising 
  • Debt reduction 
  • Individual and scholarship support 
  • In general, the Health Trust does not provide endowment support 


  1. The applicant must have a 501(c)(3) and non-private foundation determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service and be designated as a public charity under section 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2), of the Internal Revenue Code.  Generally, the Health Trust does NOT provide grants to 509(a)(3) “supporting organizations.” If you have a question about eligibility please contact Jennifer Rosenkranz, or 312-726-1008.

  2. Nonprofit organizations operating in the Chicago metropolitan area are eligible to apply, but preference is given to organizations within the City of Chicago.  
  3. Organizations must be non-discriminatory in the hiring of staff and in providing services on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability. 

Selection Criteria

The Health Trust uses these criteria to evaluate funding requests:

  • The organization or project addresses a critical health need for a vulnerable population 
  • The organization has demonstrated quality services, is important to its community and has the management and governance strengths, fiscal responsibility, and stability to achieve the proposed outcomes  
  • The proposed program’s strategies are based on evidence-based practices and/or experience/lessons learned through the program’s operation 
  • The proposed activities are logical, realistic, and can be accomplished within the stated time frame 
  • Preliminary plans for evaluation are appropriate to the activities 
  • The relevant past and anticipated costs and fundraising are realistic, fit the scope of the activities, and, where appropriate, provide evidence of reasonable sustainability after the period of Health Trust support 

If you feel that your organization matches our funding interests, criteria and eligibility requirements, and you would like to apply for a grant, please review our Application Procedures.