Copyright 2005
Girl's Best Friend Foundation

Apply for an SES grant

Each fall, the young women in SES hold a grantmaking cycle in which groups of young people can apply for one-time grants of up to $3,000 for projects creating progressive, positive change in the various communities around Chicagoland. These projects must be girl-led and driven (with the support of adult allies). Read our full guidelines below.

We accept SES grant applications only for a limited time each fall.

Applying for a Sisters Empowering Sisters Grant

Who can apply for an SES grant

What SES does and does not fund

Frequently asked questions

SES grant cycle calendar

Site visit tips

Download the SES grant application

Sisters Empowering Sisters (SES) is the girls advisory group of Girl's Best Friend Foundation. SES provides grants to girl-driven and girl-run projects in Chicago and surrounding communities. Grants range from $500 to $3,000. Each year, SES develops a grant application outlining the process and deadline to apply. Learn more about Sisters Empowering Sisters.

Who can apply for an SES grant

Groups of girls and young women:

  • Between the ages of 8 and 18
  • In the Chicagoland area
  • Working with an adult adviser
  • Connected to a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status

What makes SES unique is that girls must complete the application and budget, develop the project ideas, and participate in directing the activities. Adults can help, but the girls have to be the driving force of the grant request and project or activity.

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What SES does and does not fund

SES is interested in funding programs or projects that are for girls and that are girl developed, girl led, and girl directed. These projects and activities must:

  • Be unique: Different, not something that a lot of other people are doing
  • Be nontraditional: Something that girls or young women don't usually do
  • Encourage positive change in the lives of girls and young women: Positively affect girls and young women inside and outside of your planning group. The project must benefit girls and young women, not just be run by girls and young women.

    Some of the issues that interest SES include (but are not limited to) life skills (i.e., coping, surviving, thriving), leadership, health, fitness, sports, teen pregnancy and parenting (not abstinence only), sexuality, advocacy, arts, gang intervention or prevention, community organizing, and community service.

# In sexuality education programs, we will only fund comprehensive sexuality education.

What does SES not fund

Individuals, scholarships, or projects developed by adults.

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Frequently asked questions

What if the organization that I work with is currently either applying for or using grant money from Girl's Best Friend Foundation?

Sorry, your group cannot apply for grant money from SES if the organization you work with is currently either applying for or using grant money from Girl's Best Friend Foundation for the same project or activity your group has developed. But your group can apply for a different project or activity.

How much grant money can we ask for?

Our grants range from $500 to $3,000. SES also gives 10 percent over the total grant amount for evaluation of the project: If a group gets a grant of $1,000, it also receives an additional $100 to find out what worked well, what it would do differently, and why.

How do we ask for grant money?

Girls and young women should:

  • Complete the application, pledge form, and budget page
  • Attach a copy of the nonprofit organization's 501(c)(3) letter
  • Send the application, budget page, and 501(c)(3) letter to:

    Sisters Empowering Sisters
    c/o Girl's Best Friend Foundation
    900 North Franklin, Suite 210
    Chicago, IL 60610

When would our group get grant money?

If your group is being considered for a grant from SES, members will visit your group to ask questions and get more information about your project. Final grant decisions will then be made. You will receive a letter that will tell you whether or not your group will receive grant money. Check back to this site for the schedule to apply.

What if our group doesn't get grant money?

Don't take it personally. You can always try again next year!   

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SES grant cycle calendar

Sisters Empowering Sisters makes grants once a year. The deadline for 2005 applications is Thursday, November 5, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

The next application will be available in September of 2006 and will be due in October 2006. If you would like a copy of the 2006 application sent to you via postal mail when it becomes available, please contact us by email or 312-266-2842 and ask to be put on the mailing list. Thanks!

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Site visit tips

The purpose of these tips is to give girl and young women grant writers and their adult advisers basic information about site visits. We want the girls and young women that apply to Sisters Empowering Sisters (SES) for grants to understand the site visit process so that they feel comfortable and prepared to share their projects and ideas. Please note, SES selects organizations to visit on site after reviewing applications. Not all applicants are visited.

What is a site visit?

A site visit is a visit from a grantmaker to get more information about a project from a group that has applied for funding. SES members will come to your group and have a discussion about the project that was developed for girls and young women in your community.

Why do we do them?

We do site visits because there is only so much you can learn from reading a grant application. Actually talking with girls and young women helps SES members to get a full picture of the project and the girls and young women running it.

Here are a few suggestions to help make the site visit fun and easy!


  1.    Read your grant application before the site visit.
  2.    Know your project. What do you want to do and why? How will you do it?
  3.    Ask SES members questions if you have any.
  4.    Relax, we're girls just like you.


  1.    Try to wing it. Know your project.
  2.    Panic. It's normal to be nervous, but remember, this is a conversation; just be yourself.

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Download the SES grant application

MS Word version -- 504k

PDF version -- 296k

Be sure to fill out the application completely, in your own handwriting.

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Girls Grantmaking
Includes materials from five different programs, so you can streamline your process of gathering information and comparing methodologies.

The toolkit contains

  • a video and supporting
    program documents from SES
  • The World Belongs to Us, book on young women and philanthropy, from the
    Women’s Foundation
  • materials from the Michigan Women’s Foundation, the Boston Women’s
    Fund, and the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Cost: $85
Order through the Women's Funding Network.

For more information,
visit Fund Forward.


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P: 312-266-2842
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900 North Franklin, Suite 210
Chicago, IL 60610
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