Cook County ARTS

Applications for the Cook County Arts Nonprofit Relief Grant are now closed. Allies for Community Business will be in touch with all applicant organizations to inform them of the grant outcome by June 1, 2024. Questions? Please contact [email protected].
Logo of Cook County Arts featuring dark blue text, symbolizing support for artists and cultural initiatives in the Cook County region.

Nonprofit
Relief Grants

For Arts & Culture Organizations
In Suburban Cook County

Nonprofit
Relief Grants

For Arts & Culture Organizations
In Suburban Cook County

About Cook County Arts Nonprofit
Relief Grants

Cook County Arts Nonprofit Relief Grants will provide up to $1.5 million in unrestricted relief grants to nonprofit organizations located in suburban Cook County.

 

The arts and culture sector was among the hardest-hit industries in the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizations face significant ongoing challenges due to changing operational needs and declines in both earned and contributed revenue.

 

Providing needed relief to arts and culture organizations will help ensure these vital community assets thrive in the post-pandemic economy.

Large icon illustrating the opening of applications, teal and white picture of a form to draw attention to the start of the application period.

Application Opens

January 23, 2024

Large icon signaling the closure of applications, with an amplified visual cue to highlight the end of the application window.

Application Closes

February 29, 2024
11:59pm

Large icon denoting approved funding for applicants, which will be released in 2024.

Funding

Applicants will be notified by June 1, 2024

Eligibility

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:

The organization must have an up-to-date Certificate of Good Standing from the Illinois Secretary of State Office.

This means you filed your Illinois nonprofit articles of incorporation and received an IRS Determination Letter on Tax Exempt Status prior to March 12, 2020.

Your primary business address that is listed on your 990 must be in Cook County, but not in the City of Chicago.

  • Eligible disciplines include:
  • Creative placemaking
  • Cultural heritage history
  • Dance
  • Design
  • Fashion design
  • Film
  • Folk and traditional arts and crafts
  • Humanities
  • Literary arts
  • Multi disciplinary arts
  • Music
  • Media arts
  • Performance arts
  • Theater
  • Visual arts
NOTE: for a successful application, applicants must also verify their identity. Please see the FAQs for more information.

Awards

Award amount will be based on the organization’s operating budget

$5,000

$20,000-$100,000
operating budget

$10,000

$100,000+
operating budget

If there are more eligible applicants than available funding, nonprofit organizations located in US HUD Qualified Census Tracts and with operating budgets under $2 million will be prioritized.

HELP DESK

Cook County Arts is partnering with Arts Alliance Illinois to bring you 1:1 support with your grant application. If you’re unsure if your organization qualifies, need help filling out the application, or are new to filling out government grants, reach out!

Coming Soon

Individual Artist Grants

Individual artists also play an important role in the vibrancy of our communities and have suffered financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned for information about Cook County Arts’ Individual Artist Relief Grant program in 2024.

APPLICATION

What you’ll need:

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Valid Government-issued photo ID of the chief executive or board chair
    Illinois Articles of Incorporation
  • Organization tax returns for 2019 (or 2020 for those organizations that were established between January 1, 2019 and March 11, 2020)
  • Optional Work Sample showing current arts and culture public programming.
Young girl with a paintbrush in hand, artistically decorating a public wall with colorful murals, contributing to Cook County's community art initiatives.

FAQs

Last updated 10/09/2023. This FAQ will be updated as we identify common questions and organization scenarios through the help desk.

No. All applicants who meet eligibility requirements and apply within the application window will be considered for a grant.

Applications open on January 23rd, 2024 and will close on February 29th,2024 at 11:59pm CT. Prior to submitting an application, we encourage prospective grantees to review the available information and seek support through the Arts Alliance Help Desk.

The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development currently has $300 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to build resiliency and make transformative investments in the aftermath of the pandemic. Recognizing the impact of the pandemic on the arts and culture sector, Cook County has allocated $5 million in ARPA funds to provide needed relief to arts and culture organizations and help ensure these vital community assets thrive in the post-pandemic economy.

After the application window closes, all applications will be assigned a random lottery number and reviewed in lottery order. Awards will be made in lottery order until the money runs out or there are no more eligible applicants.

If the total pool of eligible applicants exceeds the available funding, organizations located in Qualified Census Tracts and organizations with total expenses under $2 million will be reviewed first in the lottery.

Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) are determined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). QCTs must meet a series of requirements including having at least 50% of its households with incomes below 60% of the Average Median Gross Income (AMGI). You can see if you are in a QCT on the HUD user website: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sadda/sadda_qct.html

This grant award is not based on artistic merit. There will not be any review or assessment of the quality of an organization’s work in the arts and culture sector.

You can reach out to the Arts Alliance Help Desk at https://support.artsalliance.org/.

You’re welcome to submit a question to the help desk 24/7 at support.artsalliance.org. The Arts Alliance team will respond during business hours—9am-5pm—and will expand response hours closer to the date applications close. If you require a phone call, Arts Alliance will schedule a time to talk that works with your schedule.

Arts Alliance Illinois fights for arts resources and policies that benefit members and all Illinois residents. As the only statewide, multidisciplinary organization concentrated on the strength of arts and culture, the Alliance takes on challenges that no single organization or artist can face alone. As part of Arts Alliance’s work helping the creative community navigate public funding opportunities, the Alliance will lead outreach efforts for this grant program and offer application assistance through informational webinars and the Arts Alliance help desk.

Allies for Community Business is serving as the administrator for the Nonprofit Relief Grants program. The mission of Allies for Community Business is to provide the capital, coaching, and connections entrepreneurs need to grow great businesses that create jobs and wealth in their communities.

Eligible organizations must have a primary mission to create, produce, present, provide, or support arts and culture activities or services for the public in suburban Cook County. Organizations may be in any discipline listed below:

  • Creative place-making
  • Cultural heritage and history
  • Dance
  • Design
  • Fashion design
  • Film
  • Folk and traditional arts and crafts
  • Humanities
  • Literary arts
  • Multi-disciplinary arts
  • Music
  • Media arts
  • Performance arts
  • Theater
  • Visual arts

Organizations must have total expenses of at least $20,000 in 2019. For organizations established between January 1, 2019 and March 11, 2020, the grant administrator will look at your total expenses on your first 990 filing. 

No. To be eligible for a grant from this program an organization must have started and been in operation by March 12, 2020.

Cook County Arts focuses on suburban communities as many artists and organizations there are ineligible for major funding opportunities available through the City of Chicago.

Your primary business address listed on your 990 must be located in Cook County AND outside the City of Chicago.

Only organizations whose primary business address listed on their 990 is located in suburban Cook County are eligible.

Organizations must have filed your Illinois nonprofit articles of incorporation and received an IRS Determination Letter on Tax Exempt Status prior to March 12, 2020, and must not have lost their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status between March 12, 2020 and now.

Yes. Organizations that were open prior to March 12, 2020 and are currently operating are eligible even if they halted programming for a period of time as long as they maintained their 501(c)(3) status. Permanently closed businesses, however, are not eligible.
No. Businesses or organizations principally engaged in teaching, instructing, counseling, or indoctrinating religion or religious beliefs, whether in a religious or secular setting, are not eligible for this program.

Yes. Organizations that provide, as part of their primary mission, arts-related services or public programming across one or more of the eligible artistic fields are eligible.

No. Applicants must be an independent 501(c)(3) organization to be eligible for this grant and that 501(c)(3) organization must have its primary mission be arts and culture.

No. A nonprofit organization that provides, as part of their primary mission, public programming across one or more of the eligible artistic fields are eligible for this grant even if their mission does not include the words “arts” or “culture.”

Organizations that have previously received COVID-19 relief or recovery funding (including Payroll Protection Program, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, and Back 2 Business grant programs) are eligible for this grant.

Yes, organizations that file a 990-N are eligible to apply as long as their 2019 budget was at least $20,000. You will need to upload your AG990-IL Charitable Organization Annual Report.

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

  • Government-issued photo ID of Officer or Trustee listed on 990 or AG990-IL Charitable Organization Annual Report.

  • Organization tax returns for 2019
    • Organizations established between January 1, 2019 and March 11, 2020 should upload their first 990 filing.

    • Organizations that file the 990-N (e-postcard), please upload your AG990-IL Charitable Organization Annual Report.

  • Bank statement from a current, active bank account where the funds will be deposited if your organization receives a grant.

  • Optional Work Sample showing public programming in arts and culture

  • Driver’s license

  • REAL ID

  • State ID

  • Chicago City Key ID

  • Passport (US)

  • Permanent resident card

  • Consular ID

  • Military ID

  • Green card

  • Certificate of naturalization

  • Certificate of US citizenship

  • Native American tribal photo ID

No. If you are in doubt about any of the content of your application—or are new to submitting government grants—reach out to the Arts Alliance help desk for 1:1 support!

Allies for Community Business will review all applications to ensure that applicants meet all eligibility requirements. There will not be a qualitative judgment made on the artistic merit of the applicants’ public programs.

After the application window closes, all applications will be assigned a random lottery number and reviewed in lottery order.

If the total pool of eligible applicants exceeds the available funding, organizations located in Qualified Census Tracts and organizations with total expenses under $2 million will be reviewed first.

Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) are determined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). QCTs must meet a series of requirements including having at least 50% of its households with incomes below 60% of the Average Median Gross Income (AMGI). You can see if you are in a QCT on the HUD user website: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sadda/sadda_qct.html

Applications are available in English and Spanish.

The signee should be an officer or other agent authorized to enter into legally binding agreements for the applicant.

Awardees will be asked to electronically sign a W9 tax form and securely log into your business bank account as you normally would through your bank’s website. Once you have completed these two steps, Allies for Community Business will initiate a funds transfer for the grant. You should then expect to receive the funds in 1-2 business days.

If it is not clear from your organizational mission and/or website that your primary mission is within the arts and culture sector, you may provide a recent, relevant work sample that demonstrates your organization’s public programming in an eligible artistic discipline. Work samples do not need to be professionally produced.

Work samples or programming documents may include: photographs, videos or sound recordings of performances, exhibitions or other public programs; marketing materials such as season brochures; flyers for performances, exhibitions, festivals or other events; lessons plans or curriculum for arts education programs; or other documentation that demonstrates that your organization provides public programming in at least one of the eligible artistic disciplines.

If you choose to provide a work sample, please provide one that is recent (within the last 5 years) and relevant that demonstrates your organization’s public programming in an eligible artistic discipline. 

Applicants may upload JPG images or PDFs OR provide URLs or web links to websites, documents, video or audio recordings, or images. Please provide any instructions or information that is needed to access your work sample or document, such as passwords to protected videos. Please note that links to account-based file sharing websites like Dropbox or Google cannot be accepted.

Funds must be used to advance the organization’s mission.

No. Awards are grants that do not need to be repaid.

No. This is an unrestricted funding opportunity. However, funds must be used to advance the organization’s mission.

No reporting is required for recipients of this grant.

WEBINARS

Arts Alliance is hosting three information sessions throughout the grant period. Bring your questions!
Teal-colored icon for information on the Cook County Arts webinar scheduled for November 21, 2023.

Thursday, November 16

11am-12pm

Bright yellow icon for information on the Cook County Arts webinar set for December 4, 2023.

Tuesday, December 5

11am-12pm

Blue icon for information on the Cook County Arts webinar happening on December 12, 2023.

Tuesday, December 12

11am-12pm

The official Cook County Arts logo, enlarged to highlight the organization's identity, featuring the distinctive blue color scheme associated with the brand.

About The Initiative

Cook County Arts is a pilot initiative of the Bureau of Economic Development made possible by $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding. Cook County Arts will provide recovery support for artists and nonprofit arts organizations while investing resources to strengthen the suburban arts sector long-term.