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Illinois Foundation Fellows Program

Illinois Foundation Fellows Program


The Office of Foundation Relations (OFR), in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (IHSI) and the Office of Proposal Development (OPD) in the OVCRI, have developed a new program to help early-career investigators in the health sciences learn how to identify and pursue potential private foundation sponsors to support their research.

This 4-month cohort training program consists of four online seminar/discussion sessions (3 hours each) addressing various aspects of the private foundation funding landscape as well as the campus submission process for foundation applications. Federal and corporate grant programs will not be covered. Faculty participants will learn how to conduct grant program searches, develop compelling and competitive proposals, cultivate relationships with private foundation staff, and successfully solicit and steward support for their work. The program will culminate with the opportunity to practice delivering an elevator pitch to a panel of experts.

Early-career faculty (years 2+) who are preparing to write their first private foundation proposal are eligible to participate. Up to 12 Foundation Fellows will be selected through a competitive nomination process. Deans and department heads are invited to nominate junior faculty for participation in the program with a letter of support. Junior faculty may also nominate themselves by requesting a letter of support from their department head to be sent to and completing the online application form. The nomination deadline for Fall 2020 is July 17, 2020.

Illinois Foundation Fellows Program Application

Schedule and Syllabus

Session 1: Overview of Private Foundations - Tuesday, September 15

Fellows will learn about private foundation philanthropy and how foundations differ from federal funding agencies. The many resources for grant seekers that are provided by OFR, IHSI, OPD, and the OVCRI will also be covered.

Session 2: Writing for Private Foundations - Tuesday, October 13

Writing proposals for private foundations requires a special set of skills. This session will walk through the process of developing and submitting proposals to foundations. Participants will receive guidance, tips, and strategies for how to develop competitive proposals, including how to craft an effective one-pager.

Session 3: ‘One-Pagers’ and ‘Elevator Pitches’ - Tuesday, November 10

You have an idea for a groundbreaking research project, but how do you convey your idea to a foundation? Fellows will critique each other’s one-pagers and learn how to communicate their research verbally through short “elevator pitches”.

Session 4: Elevator Pitches and Next Steps - Tuesday, December 8

Fellows will have the opportunity to share their research ideas and receive feedback from their peers and OFR, IHSI, and OPD staff. Potential strategies and next steps for applying the concepts from the Illinois Foundation Fellows Program to preparation of their own foundation proposals will be discussed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to participate in the 2020 Illinois Foundation Fellows Program?

To be eligible for this program:

  1. You must be a tenure-track (or tenured) junior faculty member in years 2+,
  2. You must have a specific funding need for research in health sciences,
  3. You must not have secured significant private foundation funding yet, and
  4. You must submit a letter of support from your department head.

Which of the departments/divisions include investigators in the health sciences?

We want to include any junior faculty member (years 2+) who might be eligible, regardless of department. Our participant selection process is competitive. A selection committee will use specific evaluation criteria to identify the final program participants from the pool of faculty applications that we receive. Therefore, we encourage anyone interested in the program to submit an application.

I am already tenured. Could I still apply to participate in the Illinois Foundation Fellows Program?

To be eligible, you must be a tenure-track (or tenured) faculty member. This is required because temporary faculty members typically are ineligible to receive private foundation funding.


Contact Julie Elzanati at 217-300-5579 or