Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation Fastrack Second Wave of Grants to Chicago and South Carolina Arts Organizations

A year after its April 2020 announcement of nearly $3 million in expedited funding, the Chicago-based Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation) has announced a second wave of support, expediting an additional $3 million that includes: $1.4 million in general operating funds to its current roster of 175 arts grantees in the Chicago region and 40 in the Lowcountry of South Carolina; $705,000 to grantees wishing to renew multi-year grants; and $75,000 to be provided to five regional arts service organizations including the Chicago-based institutions Arts Alliance Illinois, Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and League of Chicago Theatres.

The expedited funding also includes $750,000 to be designated to the Foundation’s new Broadening Narratives Collections strategy to amplify underrepresented narratives told in museums, libraries and other collecting organizations; and $75,000 to be granted to the five advisory groups involved with the new initiative, including the Chicago-based Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, and Chicago Cultural Alliance.

“Over a year after Chicago’s stay at home order, there is still much uncertainty surrounding when our community will be able to fully engage with neighborhood cultural treasures once again, and the arts and culture sector are still the most uniquely affected among non-profits,” said David Farren, executive director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.  “It is incumbent upon our Foundation to redouble our efforts to assist our grantees immediately, and encourage our community to do the same whether it is through donations or purchasing tickets to programs.”

In September 2020, the Foundation announced the launch of Broadening Narratives, a major new Collections funding initiative to help museums, libraries, and other collecting organizations bring forward new and recovered narratives within the Foundation’s two geographies. Organizations whose collections illustrate BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints are eligible to apply.  Emerging, compelling, underrepresented perspectives reflective of collections in the areas of science, public health and the natural world also are eligible. The Foundation encourages any Chicago or Lowcountry based non-profit organization with a relevant collection to learn more about the strategy at  The next deadline for applications is July 30, 2021.

Collections traditionally have ensured that stories are preserved, added to, revisited, and reconsidered in context of the past, the present, and the future. Some narratives, however, have been less valued or overlooked because of decisions based—consciously or subconsciously—on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background, economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be unpopular, divisive or outside the conventional thinking of the day. This new funding initiative is designed to be part of a new way forward in collections thinking as it shifts focus from the care and processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more inclusive narratives and perspectives through collections.

The nearly 70-year old Foundation currently supports small arts nonprofits with an array of ongoing organizational development opportunities in addition to multi-year general operating grants (vs. program-specific). These gen op grants range from $2,500 to $13,500 annually, for Chicago organizations with budgets under $1 million, and $5,000 to $25,000 annually, for Lowcountry organizations. 

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

For more information on the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, visit