John and Susan Dewan Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: The Dewan Foundation focuses its global development funding on education, job creation and economic development. While the foundation awards grants to groups working in developing countries around the world, it pays particular attention to groups working in Central America.

IP TAKE: Dewan does not expect dramatic, large-scale change from its grantees. It is aware of its modesty in this space. However, it seeks a “[h]eart-to-heart connection with the poor and disadvantaged” in its grantees, and work that effects positive change in their lives, even if that change is on a comparatively small scale.  

PROFILE: The Dewan Foundation was established in 2000 when John and Susan Dewan sold STATS, the sports information company they founded in the 1980s. After the sale, the couple embarked on a new journey in the world of philanthropy. Much of the foundation’s grantmaking goes to support Chicago-based organizations that provide services to homeless people, mainly in the fields of education and job training for “living wage employment.”

Organizations that work in developing countries around the world still receive Dewan Foundation grants. The foundation tends to focus its global funding on Central America but has supported global development projects in other parts of the world. Dewan recently expanded its geographic reach to India, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Kenya.

Dewan's grantmaking prioritizes education, job creation, and economic development with the overall goal of alleviating poverty.  Although it is a small, family foundation that awards several grants each year, individual awards are modest. They typically range from $1,000 to $5,000. According to the foundation, most awards are $2,500 or less. 

Also of note: the foundation pays special funding attention to faith-based organizations, but this is not an exclusive rule. Groups that are not faith-based should feel free to approach the foundation for funding as long as their work aligns with Dewan’s philanthropic mission. This funder is best suited for local and grassroots groups.

The Dewan Foundation accepts letters of inquiry throughout the year. While this is the preferred method of initial approach for would-be grantees, the foundation will accept unsolicited proposals, as well. 


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