Grantseekers – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

University of Chicago Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics ▲

Click on the questions below for the answers.

Q1. To be considered, does a grantseeker need to submit an initial inquiry prior to the grantmaking application deadlines mentioned on your website?

There is no deadline for the submission of an inquiry. We accept inquiries at any time during the year. Submit your inquiry using our Letter of Inquiry form. The GIF is equivalent to a “letter of inquiry”.

Q2. If I have not submitted an inquiry to the Foundation, is it okay for me to call and get information about your grantmaking process?

Our initial inquiry process is straightforward, so we hope that most of your questions will be answered by simply reviewing our website and our Letter of Inquiry form – see question 1 above. We encourage you to fill out and submit the GIF as your introduction to the Foundation. If you still have questions after you have reviewed the website and GIF, please feel free to call us.

Q3. If I have submitted an inquiry, is it okay for me to call to find out about its status? If so, how long should I wait before calling?

Yes, you may call. However, we will confirm receipt of your Letter of Inquiry form by email within a few days of our receiving it. In the email, we will let you know the timeframe in which we expect to review your GIF and respond to your inquiry. If you find a need to call, we suggest that you wait at least 30 days after your GIF is submitted before calling us to inquire about its status.

Q4. Do you prefer Letters of Inquiry to be detailed or more concise?

Concise is better. Please include your website address. That is the first place we look for additional information to help us understand your work.

Q5. Is it a good idea to submit supplemental documentation with an initial inquiry?

No, please do not. The information requested in our Letter of Inquiry form is all we are equipped to handle at this stage of the process. However, you may direct us to your website. From time to time, we may request additional materials to help us better understand your work.

Q6. I sent you a Letter of Inquiry but never heard back from you. What should I do?

Please call or send another email. We send a confirmation email to every potential grantseeker. If you did not receive this email we did not receive your Letter of Inquiry or there was an oversight on our part.

Q7. You responded to my Letter of Inquiry and said I would hear back within a certain time period. That time has passed but I have not heard from you. What should I do?

If at least 30 days have gone by without a response, you are welcome to call or send an email; we apologize for the delay on our part.

Q8. If you have declined an inquiry, are you willing to consider a new inquiry? If so, how long should I wait before submitting a new inquiry?

Yes, you are welcome to send in a new inquiry, although we encourage you to review our Grantmaking Priorities as well as the other Grantseekers – Inquiries web pages before you submit it. If you believe your initial inquiry was a good match, you may also request feedback to better understand if a new inquiry is worth your time. Unless we indicate to the contrary in our correspondence to you, we generally prefer that grantseekers wait at least 12 months before submitting a new inquiry.

Q9. If you are interested in a project we propose, how much lead time is there between our initial inquiry and the issuance of a grant application invitation?

This timeline varies from cycle to cycle and year to year and may differ among grantseekers in different program areas. We also take into consideration our ability to make new grants and the allocation of our limited resources. Please consult our Current Perspective on Grant Inquiries page for more information regarding our current grantmaking outlook. If there is not a good match, we will generally let you know within a month to six weeks. If there is a potential match and we are in a position to make on new grant, lead time can be anywhere from a few months to a year. Grantseekers who are of interest will be contacted by the program officer assigned to review your file. Once assigned, our program officer will try to stay in touch with you so you have a realistic understanding of our process and anticipated timetable. If necessary, you are welcome to call your program officer to learn more about the status of your inquiry.

Q10. Is it helpful to have a member of our Board or staff write a letter or make a call to support our inquiry?

This is not necessary as we give every applicant the same level of review. In order to ensure fairness and consistency, our staff reviews every Letter of Inquiry form.

Q11. We are a new organization; does it still make sense to submit a Letter of Inquiry?

Your organization must have a valid Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) and a letter ruling from the IRS which confirms that you are an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code before you can apply for a grant from our Foundation. Generally, we fund very few start-up organizations, but if you feel you closely match one of our areas of current interest, please fill out the Letter of Inquiry form. See question 1 above.

Q12. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, but are a “supporting organization” under Section 509(a)(3). Can we apply for funding?

This is not a simple question! You will need to be able to demonstrate to our satisfaction that your organization is a Type I or Type II supporting organization or is a “functionally integrated” Type III supporting organization before we will consider funding. This may require you to submit an opinion from your legal counsel to that effect. We urge you to consult with legal or tax counsel regarding this matter and whether you will be able to provide the appropriate documentation before you submit an inquiry.

Q13. Will you visit our organization?

In most cases with organizations in or near Chicago, we will try to visit grantseekers before issuing a grant application invitation. We believe a face to face visit allows us to understand your work at a deeper level than is possible through written materials or telephone calls. Please be aware a visit does not mean you will be invited to submit an application or receive a grant.

Q14. What kind of support do you provide?

In most cases our initial grants are project specific. If an organization’s mission aligns closely with our mission, we may consider funding general operations. In general we do not make multi-year commitments to new grantseekers. We do not fund individuals, underwrite events or fund capital projects. Please see our Grant Limitations for further guidance.

Q15. The Geographic Considerations section on your website indicates that a limited number of education grants are made outside of the greater Chicago area. If our organization is located outside of the Chicago area, is it worth our time to submit an inquiry?

We make very few education grants outside of the Chicago area and, in most cases, we would initiate contact with prospective grantees outside the area. Thus, it is unlikely that an unsolicited inquiry will result in a positive response from the Foundation. If, however, you believe your program is a close match with one of our current areas of interest and provides a unique grantmaking opportunity, we encourage you to contact our office to discuss your program before you submit a Letter of Inquiry form. A member of our staff will be able to advise you whether it makes sense to submit a written inquiry.