The International Connections Fund (ICF) was established in 2008 with the goal of helping Chicago nonprofit organizations advance their work by collaborating with peer organizations abroad. While eligibility criteria for ICF grants have shifted over the program's lifespan, this core mission has remained unchanged. During the life of the ICF program, MacArthur has administered 14 grant cycles, making 141 grants totaling more than $5.8 million. The majority of these grants—133 in all, totaling $5.4 million—have been awarded to support arts and culture projects. These projects have enabled Chicago artists, audiences, and arts and culture organizations to participate in international exchanges with counterparts from 63 different countries on six continents.
Ten years into the program, MacArthur commissioned NORC at the University of Chicago to take stock of how the program has operated; learn what impact it has made on ICF grantees, their collaborators, and audiences; and consider how the program can best serve future grantees as ICF enters its second decade. The evaluation reviewed 12 ICF grant cycles that took place between 2008 and 2016, during which 114 grants were made to 91 different arts and culture organizations.