Stepping Stone Grant Program

In 2018, we interviewed theatre companies of all sizes from the Chicago area to understand the greatest needs in the theatre community. What we heard was that opportunities for growth are often fleeting, and theatre companies struggle to raise enough money before their opportunity evaporates. We support companies at critical moments in their growth by providing significant gifts over three years to allow opportunities to blossom. Our belief is that by investing in arts organizations in this way we will allow them to quickly reach new heights on their own terms.


2019 Stepping Stone Grant Applications close at 11:59 PM on Friday, October 11th. *

Fill out your application HERE *

If you have any questions on problems filling out the form, please contact

Chiara Mangiameli and Rick Bayless in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Cascabel, 2014. Photo by Liz Lauren.

2019 Bayless Family Foundation Application Guidelines:

The Bayless Family Foundation supports established Chicago Theatre organizations who have a vision for institutional and artistic growth.  Therefore, we would like to announce the inaugural Stepping Stone Grant.  Chicago theatre organizations must meet the following guidelines to be eligible to apply:
  • Be a registered 501(c)3 organization presenting theatre in the Chicago area. 
  • Have produced a season of work for a minimum of 5 consecutive years.
  • Have an annual budget of at least $250,000.

Our Grant:

Totaling $150,000 and to be paid out over 3 years.  The intent of the grant is to build the capacity of the awarded organization.  
*It should be noted that these grants are highly competitive, and we expect more qualified applicants than can be supported.
We are accepting proposals September 2nd through October 11th and we will contact recipients in November.

2019 Bayless Family Foundation Application Questions:

Name of Organization *

Your Name * 

Email *

Mailing Address * (Street Address, City, State, Zip Code)

Is this address also your performance space? *

Are you an Itinerant company?

Performance Venue Address (if different from mailing address) (Street Address, City, State, Zip Code)

Do you present a season of theatre productions in the Chicago area? *

Has your company been in continuous operation of the above for at least 5 years? *

What year were you founded? *

Total Budget of Current Fiscal Year: *

Current Fiscal Year end date: *

Are you an ALAANA arts organization? *

Does your organization maintain a DataArts account? (Survey question, your answer will not appear in the grant review.)

Number of full-time salaried staff: *

Number of part-time paid employees: *

Number of volunteer employees (exclusive of part- and full-time staff): *

Briefly describe the specific barrier you would like to remove, the need you would fulfill, or the project or position this grant would fund: (100 words) * 

If you were awarded this grant, how would the removal of your barrier sustain the vitality of the organization for the three years of this grant and beyond? (750 words) *

Please attach your IRS Form 990 from 2018 *

Please attach your IRS Form 990 from 2017 *

Please attach your IRS Form 990 from 2016 *