Youth Fund for Social Change

In 2007, Crossroads Fund received a legacy grant from the Girls Best Friend Foundation, supporting the formation of a special grantmaking initiative, which funds youth advocacy and activism projects in the Chicago area. The Youth Fund for Social Change enables us to have a targeted impact on the growing sector of youth organizations in the Chicago area.

The Youth Fund for Social Change provides resources to youth working on social justice issues in their communities. The Youth Fund supports youth activists who want to change and challenge existing policies and/or organized structures that prevent their communities from achieving equality. Grant amounts are between $3,000 to $15,000 depending on the size of the project and what it will cover.

Projects may cover many areas ranging from community, education and schools, health, environment, incarceration, media, racism, discrimination, voting, etc.

Examples of such projects are:

  • Community: youth working to find solutions to overall issues of equality like access to education, healthcare, jobs and political power: working on alternatives to detention and incarceration.
  • Education and schools: youth organizing for: restorative justice programs in schools; representation on school boards; alternatives to military recruitment on campus; or programs that address sexual harassment, homophobia, gender, or ability stereotypes/oppression.
  • Health: youth organizing to expand reproductive health and comprehensive sex education.
  • Environment: youth organizing around: lead clean up in their community; environmental pollution; or access to cleaner and better transit.
  • Violence: youth working on: alternatives to the criminal justice system; peer to peer intervention; pursuit of strategies to reduce police harassment of youth; strategies to improve public safety in your neighborhood.
  • Media: youth holding corporate media accountable by demanding that the public airwaves promote justice and peace rather than hate, violence and war.


Past Youth Fund Grantees:





 Who can apply:

  • Youth (age limit is up to 26 years old) with an existing project or a concrete new idea on achieving social change.
  • Youth Organizations that have youth-lead projects that focus on social change issues. Youth must serve as decision-makers in creating and carrying out the project.
  • Special Funding is reserved for youth working together across neighborhoods, race, class, education, ability, sexual orientation, gender, etc. This could take the form of working together on a project or having joint workshops, trainings etc.

We would like…

  • Youth projects to be in the Chicago metropolitan area (City of Chicago and Suburbs) and Northwestern Indiana, which we define as the area between the state border and Gary, IN. If you have any questions about our catchement area, please email
  • The projects to be connected to a nonprofit organization with a 501(c)(3) status, fiscal sponsor or have an organizational bank account. We cannot fund individuals.
  • The project to be campaigns, ongoing or just getting started, with the hope that it will continue.


Opens: September 12th, 2022

Closes: October 26th, 2022

**Please note - we are no longer accepting paper applications. All applicants must use the Grant Portal. If you have any questions on the new system, or on the application process in general, please email Joanna Preston at or call 773-227-7676.