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The Joyce Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-08-17

At A Glance

The Joyce Foundation

321 North Clark Street, Ste. 1500

Chicago, IL United States 60654-4714

Telephone: (312) 782-2464


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $951,465,616

Total giving: $37,623,729






Incorporated in 1948 in IL - Established by Beatrice Joyce Kean of Chicago. The Joyce family wealth came from the lumber industry, including family-owned timberlands, plywood and sawmills, and wholesale and retail building material distribution facilities, which were located in the state of Louisiana and the Midwest. Until the early 1970s, assets of the foundation remained small and grants were given to the particular philanthropic interests of its founder. Upon Mrs. Kean's death in Dec. of 1972, the foundation was bequeathed ninety percent of her estate, an amount in excess of $100 million

Purpose and Activities

The foundation supports the development of policies that both improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and serve as models for the rest of the country. The foundation focuses on today’s most pressing problems while also informing the public policy decisions critical to creating opportunity and achieving long-term solutions. The work is based on sound research and is focused on where the foundation can add the most value. The foundation encourages innovative and collaborative approaches with a regional focus and the potential for a national reach.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:


The goal of the program is to strengthen arts organizations by diversifying program offerings, artists’ commissions, staff, board leadership, and ultimately audience in measurable, sustainable ways and to increase the capacity and resources of culturally specific and community-based arts organizations. The foundation also invests in Midwestern creative capital, partnerships, and community engagement through the Joyce Awards program. Lastly, it keeps focus on innovations in the field that lead to broader, more diverse arts organizations, artists, and audience. Program priorities are: 1) Promoting Access: To encourage mid-sized and major cultural institutions to increase the participation of people of color in their audiences, boards, and staff; 2) Community-based arts: To strengthen the infrastructure and leadership of culturally-specific and community-based arts organizations; 3) Supporting Creativity: To stimulate the commissioning and production of new works that would be relevant to audiences of color, and support the artistic development of artists of color; 4) Innovation: To seek and test new ideas emerging in the arts field that heighten digital engagement, use compelling storytelling vehicles to relay the power of art and create partnerships outside of the typical art realm leading to diverse arts audiences.


The overriding goal of the program is to preserve and strengthen those values and qualities that are the foundation of a healthy democratic political system: honesty, fairness, transparency, accountability, competition, and maximizing informed citizen participation. Accordingly, the foundation seeks to create political cultures in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin which make it possible for more citizens, not just those who are wealthy and well-connected, to run for public office; offer voters real candidate and policy choices at election time; protect voting rights; respect the independence and impartiality of the courts; guarantee the fairness and reliability of elections; and provide citizens with the information needed to make reasoned decisions. To promote these ends, the foundation supports organizations and coalitions in the Midwest that are willing and have the skills to: 1) Contribute to the development and promotion of broad, multi-issue political reform agendas within the target states, including improvements in the laws and practices governing campaign finance, elections, redistricting, judicial selection, voting rights, and local news coverage of government and politics; 2) Engage in activities necessary for effective advocacy including: policy research and development; public and policy maker education; civic engagement, particularly in underrepresented communities; coalition building; news media outreach; and participation in official proceedings, including litigation; 3) Work collaboratively with other reform and civic groups, academic and legal experts, and policy makers to advance shared goals within their states and across the region; and 4) Participate in activities designed to enhance their capacities in the areas of strategic planning, organizing, coalition building, fundraising, advocacy, and communications.


The program works to close the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and communities of color from their peers by improving the quality of teachers they encounter in school, enhancing early reading policies, and exploring such innovations as charter schools. Program priorities are: 1)Teacher Quality: The foundation supports efforts to improve federal, state, and district policies so that high-need schools in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis can attract and retain first-rate teachers. Efforts include research, policy development, advocacy, and evaluation related to reform of recruiting and hiring systems, alternative routes into teaching, teacher support, reform of teacher and principal evaluation and tenure systems, and reform of teacher compensation and pension systems; 2) Early Reading: The foundation supports policy initiatives to ensure that students read well by the end of third grade to help close the achievement gap. Efforts include research, public education, policy development, and advocacy designed to: a) Create more effective policies and measures of student and teacher performance on important reading skills in grades pre-K–3; b) Provide pre-K–3 teachers with more training before and after they enter the classroom on how to most effectively teach reading; c) Integrate effective early reading policies with other Joyce Foundation teacher quality strategies; 3) Innovation Grants: A small portion of program funds is reserved for other outstanding opportunities to close the achievement gap, especially policy-oriented efforts to expand the supply of high-quality charter schools in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis.


The overarching goal of the program is to establish the Midwest as the leader of the most innovative and effective employment education and training strategies in the country. Grant making specifically supports efforts to increase skill and credential attainment by low-income adult workers in three primary program areas: 1) Basic Foundational Skills: In order to provide under-prepared adults in the region with the basic foundational skills needed to be successful in 21st century work and technical training, the foundation supports the evaluation and scaling efforts of promising adult education programs that build basic foundational skills, particularly in the context of work and occupations; 2) Industry Training Partnerships: In order to ensure that occupational education and training for under-prepared adults is valuable in the labor market, the foundation supports efforts to: a) Expand partnerships between industry associations and educational organizations to create certifications, promote them within the industry, and build them into educational programs; b) Research return on investment from employer policies promoting employee education and skill development, particularly among entry-level and low-wage workers; c) Reform federal and state policy around enabling and incentivizing such policies; d) Align economic and workforce development and make workforce programs demand-driven through planning and coordination; and e) Innovation Fund: In order to create step-change improvement in pursuit of the program’s goals, the foundation supports the development, testing, and promotion of new ideas. The program supports some cross-cutting efforts such as those that aim to make quality improvements to workforce data collection and use, and city level strategies that would support progress on the program’s overarching goal. Target metropolitan regions include Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. The program does not accept proposals to support direct service programs .


The foundation will seek and support funding opportunities to protect and restore the Great Lakes by considering proposals at the local, state, regional, and national levels that address the following areas: 1) The introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in and around the Great Lakes Basin; 2) Polluted, non-point source runoff from agricultural lands and cities. Watershed-based investments related to reducing nonpoint source pollution will continue to focus on the Greater Milwaukee River Watersheds and the Western Lake Erie Basin. The use of green infrastructure as a way to better manage stormwater and reduce combined sewer overflows in urban areas; and 3) Funding of and support for Great Lakes restoration and protection policies. This includes implementation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative related work. Support for state and regional work to defend and advance policies to protect and restore the Great Lakes with an emphasis on reducing polluted runoff from cities and farms, promoting the use of green infrastructure and making the case for maintained or increased state and federal investment in Great Lakes restoration. The foundation will also seek and support funding opportunities to put the Midwest on a path to adopt all energy efficiency measures that are cheaper than generating more power by 2020. Proposals will be considered for work at the local, state, regional and, on a very limited basis, national levels that address the following opportunities: 1) Leveraging state policies—including energy efficiency resource standards, smart grid deployment plans, and decoupling measures—to drive increased and more effectively targeted utility investments in building energy efficiency; and 2) Identifying, testing, and replicating the most effective building energy efficiency delivery models, whether those are focused at the community level, on a particular type of building, or a group of energy consumers with shared characteristics .

Gun Violence

Gun violence claims 30,000 persons in the United States every year, including lives lost in gun homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. An additional 60,000 Americans are injured by guns annually. This public health and public safety crisis takes an enormous toll on families, and offends the right of all Americans to be safe in their communities. Evidence-based policies and practices that limit easy access to illegal firearms, and curb the lethality of firearms, can help reduce gun deaths and injuries. The foundation supports local, state, regional, and national projects that: 1) Advance state-based policy advocacy and organizing to secure effective gun violence prevention policies and practices; 2) Improve public engagement in support of effective gun violence prevention policies and practices; 3) Build effective coalitions to secure support for gun violence prevention policy reform among groups most impacted by gun violence; 4) Support Second Amendment legal strategies to uphold effective gun violence prevention policies and practices; and 5) Encourage policy-oriented research and data collection to support effective gun violence prevention policies and practices. .

Matching Gifts

The foundation matches the gifts of all full-time employees on a two-to-one basis to all nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that are listed in the IRS Cumulative List or that hold a special ruling by statute from the IRS. Gifts may range from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $2,000 for each calendar year. The total potential annual amount in foundation matching contributions is $4,000 per eligible employee, per year.

President's Discretionary Fund

The fund is used to make small, expeditious grants that advance the foundation’s priorities, and to support other activities of interest to the foundation. Competition for discretionary funds is very high.

Special Opportunities

The foundation makes some grants to projects outside its primary program areas. Preference is given to communications-oriented projects that enhance public understanding of the foundation’s issues, projects that bridge two or more of the foundation’s programs, or projects that reflect concern for social equity or regional cooperation.

Fields of Interest

  • Arts and culture
  • Crime prevention
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Environment
  • Gun control
  • Political organizations
  • Public finance
International Interests
  • Canada
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $951,465,616 (market value)

Expenditures: $49,348,037

Total giving: $37,623,729

Qualifying distributions: $44,083,447