Beatrice Joyce Kean was the sole heir of the Joyce family and it was her discretion that created The Joyce Foundation in 1948, and greatly expanded the foundation with an additional hundred million dollars as part of her estate when she died in 1972.
The foundation is built upon wealth that the Joyce family acquired through years in the lumber industry, and Beatrice Joyce Kean’s family operated mills and materials distribution centers throughout the Midwest – the region that continues to be the focus of the foundation’s work.
Today, The Joyce Foundation’s mission is to support “policies that improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and that can serve as models for the country. Our efforts are focused on addressing today’s most pressing problems while also shaping the public policy decisions critical to achieving long-term solutions and creating opportunity. The work is based on sound research and aimed at areas where we can add the most value. We encourage new, forward thinking and innovative approaches with a regional focus and the potential for a national reach.”
It achieves this work through grantmaking in several categories, with an eye toward policy-level change and advocacy. The organization is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors, including Ellen S. Alberding, who is also president of the foundation and at the helm of a 26-person staff.
Major Program Categories: The Joyce Foundation focuses its grantmaking in the areas of culture, democracy, education, employment, environment, gun violence prevention and a joint fund for education and employment. The foundation also annually distributes the Joyce Awards, multiple $50,000 awards to fund artists of color and “to strengthen cross-cultural understanding by bringing diverse audiences together.
Giving in certain program areas is limited to geographic regions within the midwest. For example, culture grants (independent of the Joyce Awards) are designated toward programs in Chicago. Pre-K through 12th grade education grants are geared largely toward Chicago, Indianapolis and Minneapolis.
In its focus on driving larger level policy reforms, and finding solutions and approaches that can be scaled across cities and regions, The Joyce Foundation’s lens is turned toward public policy and research, so its website cautions that the foundation generally does not support capital projects or direct service programs.
Some past grants in the area of employment include $400,000 to the Chicago Community Foundation for “continued support of the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance,” and $300,000 “to support a joint initiative with the Center on Wisconsin Strategy to advance policy, partnerships and practice in health care workforce development, especially in the context of labor-management partnerships and with a focus on low-wage/entry-level work.”
The last two years have seen education grants focused on “teacher quality,” and include projects such as $350,000 to Education First Consulting “to facilitate partnerships between Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago school districts and their feeder teacher preparation programs to help better align the teacher supply and demand pipeline, and to help ensure teachers are better prepared.”
For a detailed database of The Joyce Foundation’s past giving, click here.
How to Apply: The Joyce Foundation’s grant application process is open, and applications are reviewed three times per year as part of the organization’s schedule of board meetings. That said, the foundation’s website strongly encourages applicants to get materials in by its April deadline, to be reviewed at July’s board meeting, as this is when the largest allocation of funds is decided upon for distribution that year. For 2017, the deadline is April 12, for review in July. One can also submit materials in August for review in November, and in December, for review in the following April. For the full schedule, click here.
Applying for funding from The Joyce Foundation begins with submitting a one to three page letter of inquiry (LOI) via email to [email protected], with attention to a specific program officer for review. Click here for a list of foundation staff, to identify which program officer might be most appropriate for each LOI. Additionally, the website recommends submitting an LOI “at least six to eight weeks prior to the proposal deadline for a given grant cycle.”
Click here for a detailed outline about what materials should be included in LOIs and full proposals.
Name of Foundation: The Joyce Foundation
Contact Information: 312.782.2464 or [email protected]
Coverage Area: Great Lakes region – Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
Subject Area: Culture, Democracy, Education, Employment, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention, Joint Fund for Education and Employment
Total Assets: $919, 082,291 (2015)
Last Year Total Grants Paid: $38,660,723 (2015)
Recent News and Grantmaking: