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Making a difference

Grants at this time are limited to programs and projects in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and are limited to two areas of focus: Third-Grade Reading and projects serving Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way neighborhoods.

Grants at this time are limited to programs and projects in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and are limited to two areas of focus: Third-Grade Reading and projects serving Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way neighborhoods.

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National funding is limited to programs and projects aligned with our Childhood Cancer Program.

Deadlines for Northwestern Mutual Foundation 2020 fiscal year funding:

Letters of Inquiry
(New Grantees Only)

Third-Grade Reading
October 14, 2019

Neighborhood Project
November 22, 2019

Stage 2 Applications
(New Grantees) and Invitation for Existing Partners:

January 10, 2020

February 7, 2020

No late applications will be accepted. Our 2020 fiscal year runs July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2020. All Letters of Inquiry/applications must be submitted online. Please review eligibility guidelines prior to applying online.


Northwestern Mutual partners with organizations which have a tax-exempt classification under 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. We do not make grants to organizations that advocate, support, or practice activities inconsistent with Northwestern Mutual’s non-discrimination policies, whether based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or status as a protected veteran.

In addition, an organization is required to be:

  • A U.S.-based organization
  • Located in and/or serving clients in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a preference towards serving clients in our targeted neighborhoods of Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way

What we don't fund:

  • Organizations that are not tax-exempt under paragraph 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Code Individuals, for any purpose
  • Nonprofit organizations located outside of the U.S. and those that primarily serve clients located outside of the U.S.
  • Grants that would represent more than 10 percent of a nonprofit organization’s annual operating budget
  • Endowment, debt-reduction or debt-retirement campaigns
  • Capital campaigns, unless invited to apply by Foundation leadership based on our philanthropic interests and priorities
  • Groups or organizations that will re-grant Foundation support to other organizations or individuals (except for those approved on an exception-only basis)
  • Schools or community athletic events or teams, bands or choirs (including requests for equipment, uniforms, travel and any requests for in-kind donations to support special events)
  • Labor, religious or fraternal groups that do not provide services to the community at large
  • Organizations that do not align with Northwestern Mutual’s non-discrimination policy as provided above


Step 1: Verify that your organization meets the eligibility guidelines noted above. Please review the Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s giving strategies and focus areas to determine whether or not your organization is a potential fit for funding. If you have any questions that are not addressed in these documents, please contact us.

Step 2: If qualified, follow the links below to apply online. There are separate applications for grants and event/table sponsorships.

How to apply for a grant:

  1. Submit an online Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to provide an overview of your project and explain how it will make a significant, lasting impact on third grade reading or on our targeted neighborhood outcomes.
  2. Please refer to the Deadlines for Northwestern Mutual Foundation 2020 fiscal year funding (above) for the specific deadlines for LOI or returning grantee applications in both the education and neighborhood spaces.
  3. If your project is selected for further consideration, you’ll be asked to submit a more comprehensive grant application. Grants are usually announced three to four months after a completed grant application is submitted.
Start Third-Grade Reading Application > Start Neighborhood Application >

Funding for events and table sponsorships:
For fiscal year 2020, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is funding events on an invitation-only basis. We’ve already contacted organizations we intend to support this fiscal year. Please refer to the FAQs if you have questions about the event sponsorship process.

Step 3: Once we have received your application in full, the program officer assigned to review your application will be in touch with your organization for follow up should the need arise. Within 60 days of deadline, we will either request a full proposal, ask for additional information, or send notification that we are unable to fund your request.


Need to get back to an application you have saved but not submitted, access records of your previous submissions or access requirement forms?

Login to your account >


The Northwestern Mutual Foundation accepts all applications for grants and event sponsorships online. We do not accept applications via postal mail or email.

Online Grant Application FAQs

How do I apply online?
To apply online, expand the how to apply online info above and choose the correct application for your request. Further instructions are provided on the application site.

The person who set up my organization’s online account no longer works here. Should I create a new account?
No. If you still have access to the old login information, sign into your organization’s account, and click “Change my E-Mail/Password” to update the account information. If you do not have access to your organization’s existing account, please contact the Foundation at (414) 665-2200 for assistance.

I clicked the “Forgot Password?” link but did not receive a message from the system.
The system will only email temporary passwords to users who have created an account in the past. If you do not receive a message, you may create a new account.

I received an error message when I input my organization’s tax identification number. What should I do?
If your organization has tax-exempt status section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, please make sure that the nine-digit Tax ID number you have entered is correct. The same applies if you are working with a fiscal sponsor. If the number is correct, please leave it as is. When we receive your application, we perform a manual check against the IRS database and will contact you if we have any concerns.

I received an invitation to apply for funding via email. I started an application and saved my progress, but every time I try to re-access the application, it starts over from scratch. What do I do?
The application link in the email can only be used to start a new application. To return to an application you’ve previously saved, you will need to access your account’s “My Account” page. Look for the application you’ve started on your list of In-Progress Applications and click on it to continue working on your saved application.

If I am in the middle of completing my application, can I save it and continue working on it later?
Yes. You may save your work on an application by clicking the “Save & Return to My Account” button located at the bottom of each page of the application. When you decide to return to an application, scroll up slightly on this page and click "login to your account."

Does the Northwestern Mutual Foundation require any documentation in addition to the online application form?
This varies, depending on which application type you are submitting. If attachments are required, that will be indicated on the online application.

How do I submit these additional documents?
Instructions for uploading these documents as attachments, as well as maximum total file sizes, are provided within the application.

I’ve filled out all required fields and added my attachments. What happens after I click the “Review Before Submitting” button?
You will have the opportunity to review your application one more time. When you are satisfied, click the “Submit Application” button at the bottom of the screen to send us your application.

I submitted my application, but there’s a mistake in it. Should I submit another one?
No. If you discover a mistake after the application has been submitted, contact the Northwestern Mutual Foundation at (414) 665-2200 for assistance.

What should I expect after I submit my application?
Once your application is submitted, you will receive an automated confirmation email. For grant applications, please allow 60 days after the application deadline for a response. For event applications, this timeframe will be less than 45 days after you submit the application.

Event Application FAQs

How do I know if my organization is eligible for an event sponsorship from the Northwestern Mutual Foundation?
Northwestern Mutual Foundation has an invitation-only online application process for all Event/Table Sponsorship requests. We do not accept unsolicited requests for Event/Table Sponsorship.

Are there any deadlines for event applications?
No. Event applications are typically processed within a month of being received.

What is the sponsorship criteria?

  • Your organization must have an ongoing funding relationship with our Foundation (focus area funding received within the past two years).
  • A Northwestern Mutual corporate employee needs to be involved with your organization (board member or volunteer) to host any table that we purchase.
  • Additionally, the Foundation will sponsor a maximum of one event per nonprofit partner per our fiscal year (July 1-June 30).
  • The Northwestern Mutual Foundation does not sponsor conferences, conventions, golf outings, school trips, concerts, or performances.

Do I need to submit any additional documentation?
Yes, we require that you attach a listing of all sponsorship and benefit levels. If you have an electronic version of the event invitation or save-the-date card, please include that as well.

What should I expect after I submit my application?
Once your application is completed and submitted, you will receive a confirmation email. Please allow 30 days after submission for review. We will contact you for further information if needed.

What if my organization did not receive an invitation to apply?
Invitations to apply are typically sent in August to the Event Contact (i.e. Events Coordinator, Development Director) provided on your latest online application. The invitation-only link is also sent to Northwestern Mutual employees who serve on the boards of these select nonprofits. Invitations are sent to organizations which meet all of the sponsorship criteria noted above. If your organization meets the criteria and did not receive an invitation to apply, please contact your Northwestern Mutual Foundation program officer.