Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management

Excellent Emerging Organization Award

The Excellent Emerging Organization Award was created to honor up-and-coming organizations whose strength is apparent—even in the early stages of existence. We are looking for organizations that display sound management practices as well as innovation in programming and leadership capabilities. We respect that, as an emerging organization, you may not have all the policies and procedures in place, but demonstrating a commitment to excellence and learning is critical.

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 Axelson Center’s conference.

The Excellent Emerging Organization Award aims to strengthen the capacity of the winning organization to improve services and efficiency. The selected nonprofit will receive a capacity-building package and a $5,000 cash award. After an initial in-depth organizational assessment by the Executive Service Corps, a capacity building package will be customized to best meet the winning organization’s needs.

The 2020 Excellent Emerging Organization application period is now closed and will re-open in the fall of 2021. To check your eligibility for the 2021 Excellent Emerging Organization Award, see below.

Eligibility

In order to be considered for the award, an applicant organization:

  • Must be a 501(c)3 organization
  • Must have a primary mission focus that benefits Chicago and/or its surrounding communities (includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will County)
  • Must be in existence for 10 years or less
  • Must have an annual budget that does not exceed $750,000
  • Must have 10 or fewer full-time staff members
  • Ineligible organizations include grant making foundations, professional associations, hospitals, houses of worship, and K-12 schools.

Please note, if you applied for the 2019 Excellent Emerging Organization Award, but did not seek feedback on your application, your 2020 Excellent Emerging Organization Award application will not be accepted.

Nomination Process

Staff, board members, and volunteers may nominate their own organizations by completing an application.

Anyone may nominate a deserving nonprofit organization. Send the Axelson Center an email at axelson@northpark.edu and encourage them to apply.

Application Process

  • Complete and submit the application.
  • To look at a PDF of the Excellent Emerging Organization application, click here.
  • Initial applications will be reviewed by the award committee and up to 3 organizations will be chosen as finalists for an in-person presentation with the committee. Qualifying finalist organizations will be notified in late January 2020.
  • Finalist organizations will have scheduled interviews with the awards committee on February 21, 2020.
  • All finalist organizations and the award winner will be announced at the Axelson Center’s conference on May 14, 2020. The winner will not be notified in advance.

An Excellent Emerging Organization

We are looking for organizations that display sound management practices, innovation in programming and leadership capabilities. As an emerging organization, we respect that you may not have all the policies and procedures in place, but demonstrating a commitment to excellence and learning is critical.

The quality and completeness of the application is essential as it will serve as the primary basis for assessment. The quality of how your express your organization’s story is critical in our decision.

Confidentiality

All information collected during this process will be kept strictly confidential. North Park University will make public only the names and websites of the finalists and award winner. Portions of the data may be used at a later date for educational purposes, but not without prior permission from the organization.

Next Steps

If you have questions about the application or process, please email axelson@northpark.edu or call 773-244-6284. We will respond to your inquiry within two business days.

The 2019 finalists for the Excellent Emerging Organization Award are:

Chicago Eco House

Dream On Education

Shift: Englewood Youth Orchestra

Read about the 2019 Excellent Emerging Organization Award Winner or view prior winners of the Excellent Emerging Organization Award and Alford-Axelson Award.