About Us

The Joyce Foundation is a nonpartisan private foundation that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

We support policy research, development, and advocacy in six areas: Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, Democracy, Culture, and Journalism. Joyce focuses its grant making in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and partners with funders to explore promising policy solutions in other states or at the federal level.

The Joyce Foundation has budgeted 2021 charitable distributions of approximately $50 million on assets of approximately $1 billion.

Our Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Joyce Foundation is committed to advancing racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation of the Great Lakes region. This commitment is reflected in our strategic grant-making priorities, which aim to address structural barriers to social and economic progress and improve outcomes for low-income individuals and young people of color. It is also reflected in our business operations, as we work to measure the impact of our grant making, staffing, and contracting with the goal of creating greater, more equitable opportunities for people of color. Our work on this front is ongoing. We are committed to aligning our policies, practices, and resources to foster equitable opportunity for all.


Our program strategies for the grant-making cycle running from January 2018 through December 2020 are as follows.


Our Education & Economic Mobility Program works to ensure equitable access to high-quality education and jobs for the region’s next generation, especially young people of color and those from low-income communities. We pursue policies to ensure that K-12 students attend schools with high-quality educators, graduate with the momentum they need to succeed in college, and attain post-secondary credentials that lead to careers with family-sustaining wages.


Our Environment Program supports science-based policy to address three critical long-term challenges facing the next generation in the Great Lakes region: the impact of climate change, the safety and accessibility of the water we drink and the health of the Great Lakes. We are working to accelerate the transition to clean energy and ensure the next generation will have clean water from lake to tap.


Our Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program promotes safe and just communities through support for research, education, advocacy, and engagement focused on three initiatives: reducing gun violence in the Great Lakes region; supporting justice system reform in the areas of policing and alternatives to arrest and incarceration; and supporting violence intervention policy and practice as a gun violence prevention strategy and an alternative to arrest and incarceration.


Our Democracy Program promotes an informed, engaged, representative and more equitable democracy acting in the public interest, in which all citizens have a stake. We focus on strategies in three areas: Voting rights and fair elections, fair representation and redistricting reform, and census data accuracy.


The Foundation is excited to have a new Culture program director, Mia Khimm. She is developing a new strategy for the program, which we expect to unveil in the summer of 2021. Until further notice, except for the Joyce Awards, the program is focused on supporting active grantees through the COVID-19 crisis and therefore not inviting applications from new grantees.


Joyce’s Journalism Program seeks to deepen the impact of Foundation investments in policy, by supporting journalism that shines a light on conditions we hope to change, policies we endorse, and success stories that present solutions to problems. We aim to help strengthen investigative, public-affairs journalism and to support local, state or national media – primarily nonprofit – covering issues related to Joyce program areas in the Great Lakes region.


We make grants to diverse organizations such as academic and research institutions, grassroots and advocacy groups, policy institutes, news media and others. We support research to develop or test new policy ideas, advance them, assist in their implementation, evaluate how they are working and where improvements are needed. We look for opportunities to support broad, systemic changes that affect the most people over the long run.

We do not generally support direct service programs, capital proposals, endowment campaigns, religious activities, commercial ventures, or scholarships.

Find more information here about our grants and funding guidelines.