Excellent Emerging Organization Award

Congratulations to our 2015 Excellent Emerging Organization Award finalists!

DanceWorks Chicago


Intonation Music Workshop

Be the first to know who wins this year's award!

Attend the 2015 Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers. We'll announce the winner at the Symposium luncheon.

The Award

An Excellent Emerging Organization is a young organization whose potential for growth and impact is high. The organization demonstrates that it is capable of leadership within its subsector, as well as innovation in its programs and service delivery. While young and small, the organization practices financial sustainability, sound management, and visions and plans for its future success.

Eligible organizations are selected on an annual basis by an award committee comprised of Chicago-area nonprofit and community leaders. The winning organization is recognized at the Annual Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers sponsored by the Axelson Center.


In order to be considered for the award, an applicant must be a 501(c)3 organization and its primary mission focus must benefit Chicago and/or its surrounding communities. Staff, board members, and volunteers may nominate their own organizations by completing an application by completing an application. Applicant must also meet the following requirements:

  • Organization has been in existence for 10 years or less
  • Organization budget must not exceed $750,000
  • Organization must have 10 or fewer full-time staff members

If you applied for the 2014 Excellent Emerging Organization Award, but did not seek feedback on your application, your 2015 Excellent Emerging Organization Award application will not be accepted.

Award Benefits

The winning organization will be announced at the Annual Axelson Center Symposium. The award aims to strengthen the capacity of the winning organization to improve services and efficiency.  The selected nonprofit will receive a capacity-building package valued at over $50,000 and a $2,500 cash award. The 2014 EEO award was sponsored by MB Financial Bank. After an initial in-depth organizational assessment, a capacity building package will be customized to best meet the winning organization's needs.

2015 Intent to Apply

The Axelson Center encourages organizations interested in applying for the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence or the Excellent Emerging Organization Award submit an Intent to Apply form. Inclusion on this form is not regarded as a completed application and does not guarantee that your organization will receive an award. Also, failure to submit the Intent to Apply form does not preclude anyone from submitting a completed application. The form allows our award committee to better prepare for the review cycle.

Application Instructions and Timeline

If you meet the eligibility requirements, we invite you to apply for this award. Download the application and instructions.

(Note: You can download this PDF, fill it in electronically, and save it to your computer using Adobe Reader. If you would like to request a Word version of the application or if you will be completing the application on a Mac device, please contact us).

  1. Complete and submit the initial application with all attachments (electronic files are preferred, postmarked no later than January 16, 2015). Please see checklist on last page of the application.
  2. Initial applications will be reviewed by the award committee and three organizations will be chosen as finalists to complete an in-person interview with the committee. The qualifying finalist organizations will be notified in early March.
  3. Finalist organizations will have scheduled interviews with the award committee in mid-April.
  4. All finalist organizations will receive special recognition and the winner will be announced at the Axelson Center Symposium on June 22, 2015.

Next Steps

Read about the 2014 EEO Winner or view the prior winners of the Excellent Emerging Organization Award and Alford-Axelson Award.

Axelson small logo at North Park University