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Grantmakers Institute 2021

February 17 @ 9:30 am - 1:30 pm

This series is sold out and registration has closed.


Forefront’s annual Grantmakers Institute has been reimagined for 2021 as a virtual professional development series that helps new grantmakers further their skills and make connections across the philanthropic community in Illinois. Led by Mae Hong, Vice President of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and taught by a diverse group of experienced grantmakers, the Institute aims to strengthen the entire sector through sharing best practices, sparking conversation, and building community.

Registration for the 2021 Grantmakers Institute includes all four days, and full attendance is strongly suggested for new grantmakers. Those wishing to get a refresher on nonprofit finance may register for Assessing Nonprofit Financial Health separately.

Institute Lead Faculty:

Mae Hong, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Day 1: Understanding Context
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Time: 9:30am – 1:30pm
Get situated within the larger context of your work with a dive into the current and historic realities of operating nonprofits, institutional philanthropy, and grantmaking as a profession. We’ll also explore what it means to understand your role within the trends influencing philanthropy today.

Day 1 Faculty:

  • Sharon Bush, Grand Victoria Foundation
  • Dinaz Mansuri, Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation
  • Marianne Philbin, Pierce Family Foundation
  • Wegi Stewart, Illinois Alliance of Community Foundations


Day 2: Power, Relationships, and Myths
Date: Thursday February 18, 2021
Time: 12:30pm – 4:30pm
This session will equip you to navigate your greatest challenges as a new program officer: power, relationships, and false narratives about what you can and cannot do. We’ll explore site visits and other interactions with grantees; working with your board; ethical challenges; and the truth about evaluation and advocacy.

Day 2 Faculty:

  • Carrie Davis, Joyce Foundation
  • Damion Heron, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Jane Kimondo, Crossroads Fund
  • Rebekah Levin, Center for Impact Research
  • Antonio Martinez, Jr., Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation
  • Leslie Ramyk, Conant Family Foundation


Day 3 & 4 – For both new and experienced grantmakers
Assessing Nonprofit Financial Health
Date: Thursday, February 25 AND March 4, 2021
Time: 9:30am – 11:30am
Understanding the financial health of both current and prospective grantees is a critical part of the grantmaking process. Nonprofit organizations face increasing financial challenges in today’s operating environment and in order to make sound funding decisions, grantmakers must have a firm grasp of the story told by the numbers. Focusing on effective approaches to reading and interpreting audited financial statements and the IRS Form 990, this course will equip grantmakers to understand their grantees’ financial reality, with concepts and tools applicable to grantees across a range of mission areas and business models. Key concepts covered in the workshop will include:

• Understanding audited financial statements
• Discussion of key indicators of financial health
• Calculating financial metrics using an Excel-based “Nonprofit Financial Health Analysis” tool (provided as a takeaway for all participants)


February 17
9:30 am - 1:30 pm
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