Grant Opportunity

Youth Fund for Social Change

Fund Details Support This Fund

Application Deadline: Closed


In 2007, Crossroads Fund received a legacy grant from the Girls Best Friend Foundation, supporting the formation of a special grantmaking initiative, which funds youth advocacy and activism projects in the Chicago area. The Youth Fund for Social Change enables us to have a targeted role in supporting youth organizations in the Chicago area. The maximum grant in this program is $15,000.

The Youth Fund (YF) provides resources to youth working on social justice issues in their communities. The Youth Fund supports youth activists who want to change and challenge existing policies and/or organized structures that prevent their communities from achieving equality.

  1. Grant amounts are between $3,000 to $15,000 depending on the size of the project and what it will cover.
  2. Projects may cover many areas ranging from community, education and schools, health, environment, incarceration, media, racism, discrimination, voting, etc.

Application Opens


Application Deadline



January 2023

Fund Details


  • Community: youth working to find solutions to overall issues of equality like access to education, healthcare, jobs and political power: working on alternatives to detention and incarceration.
  • Education and schools: youth organizing for: restorative justice programs in schools; representation on school boards; alternatives to military recruitment on campus; or programs that address sexual harassment, homophobia, gender, or ability stereotypes/oppression.
  • Health: youth organizing to expand reproductive health and comprehensive sex education.
  • Environment: youth organizing around: lead clean up in their community; environmental pollution; or access to cleaner and better transit.
  • Violence: youth working on: alternatives to the criminal justice system; peer to peer intervention; pursuit of strategies to reduce police harassment of youth; strategies to improve public safety in your neighborhood.
  • Media: youth holding corporate media accountable by demanding that the public airwaves promote justice and peace rather than hate, violence and war.


  • Open to organizations, groups, and coalitions
  • Organizations with budgets less than $1,000,000
  • Meets Crossroads Fund’s Funding Criteria


  • Youth (age limit is up to 26 years old) with an existing project or a concrete new idea on achieving social change.
  • Youth Organizations that have youth-lead projects that focus on social change issues. Youth must serve as decision-makers in creating and carrying out the project.
  • Special Funding is reserved for youth working together across neighborhoods, race, class, education, ability, sexual orientation, gender, etc. This could take the form of working together on a project or having joint workshops, trainings etc.


  • Youth projects to be in the Chicago metropolitan area (City of Chicago and Suburbs) and Northwestern Indiana, which we define as the area between the state border and Gary, IN. If you have any questions about our catchement area, please email
  • The projects to be connected to a nonprofit organization with a 501(c)(3) status, fiscal sponsor or have an organizational bank account. We cannot fund individuals.
  • The project to be campaigns, ongoing or just getting started, with the hope that it will continue.


  1. Create an account or log in to Crossroads Fund’s Online Grant Portal.
  2. Click APPLY in the upper menu.
  3. The application will now be available. Scroll down to the lower right corner and click “Apply” to start the application.
  4. Fill out Budget Form (Download Template)
  5. Fill out Youth Fund Demographics Form (Download Template)


The application deadline varies from year to year, but generally falls in the fall or winter.
Each application is screened by staff based on whether a group’s work falls within our Funding Criteria. Those applications meeting our criteria are reviewed and selected for a site visit by the Youth Fund Grantmaking Committee (GMC). The Youth Fund GMC is made up of Crossroads Fund board members, as well as staff and youth organizers and young people working with youth organizations. Site visits are conducted by GMC. GMC makes funding recommendations to the Board of Directors for final approval. All applicants are notified of the final funding decision within a week of the Board’s decision, generally by early February.


What is Crossroads Fund’s grantmaking process?
Crossroads Fund uses community grantmaking processes for a variety of funds. Please visit our Grantmaking Process page for a description of each fund’s grantmaking process.

Does Crossroads Fund support direct or social service organizations?
Crossroads Fund supports social services when linked with activism, when there is a component of social change work within the organization. Please visit read our Funding Criteria for a full discussion of social change organizing. Also check out our current grantees to see what types of groups we typically fund.

What if my group is not based in Chicago?
Crossroads Fund supports work rooted in communities in the Chicago metropolitan area. If you have any questions about geographic limits in our criteria, please email If your work would fit into Crossroads Fund’s social change funding guidelines, but you are located in another area of the United States or Puerto Rico, check out the Giving Project’s list of sister funds.

Can local chapters of national organizations apply?
Yes, when the chapter has a strong base in Chicago area communities, and an autonomous fundraising strategy (is not solely dependent on the national group for funding).

Does Crossroads Fund have grant programs for individuals?
No, Crossroads Fund supports organizations. We cannot fund individuals.

Do I have to use Crossroads Fund’s application forms?
Yes – Crossroads Fund now requires all applicants to use our online grant portal.

How do I know if my organization fits Crossroads Fund’s budgetary restrictions?
We look at an organization’s previous year’s actual expenses to determine its fit with our budgetary guidelines. Most of our funding programs are for organizations with budgets under $500,000. If your organization’s planned budget for the current fiscal year is $510,000, but your last fiscal year’s actual expenses were $485,500, you would fit. Organizational budgets slightly over $500,000 will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

What if my organization does not have 501(c)(3) status?Crossroads Fund supports non-profit organizations, including those that do not have 501(c)3 status. Fiscal sponsorship for those organizations without tax-exempt status is recommended but not required. An organizational bank account is required for those groups not using a fiscal sponsor.
Crossroads Fund considers funding for 501(c)(4) organizations. Please contact Michael Aghuhar at to learn more.

Can I send my application via mail?
No, we no longer accept applications through the mail – all applications must be submitted through our online grant portal.

Does Crossroads Fund offer feedback on proposals that are not selected for funding?
Crossroads Fund can and will respond to requests for feedback. Please share a draft or one-pager with at least one-week prior to grant deadline. Our feedback is based on your proposed work, and how well it aligns with our current grantmaking priorities and funding strategies.



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