RFP release date: November 15, 2012
Proposal deadline: January 4, 2013
Grant decision date: May 21, 2013
Developed land in the Chicago region grew by 66% between 1960 and 1990 while the population increased by a mere 14%. This pattern continued, somewhat slowed, in the late 1990s. As urbanized land expanded geographically, people became more dependent on automobiles; car trips and distances increased; walking and public transit use declined. Federal, state and local policy and regulations favored investments in and around highways over public transportation and encouraged separation of land uses, with homes located far away from job centers and commercial districts.
This model of growth is harmful to our environment and affects our global competitiveness. Experts estimate that over $7 billion is lost to traffic congestion every year in the Chicago metro area. Because housing and commercial buildings of the past century were rarely energy-efficient, high utility costs affect housing affordability and businesses’ bottom line. According to climate change studies, buildings alone are responsible for 70% of gas emissions. There are social costs as well: traditional development patterns keep minorities and low-income residents in segregated communities with less access to jobs, public transit and community amenities and poor environmental health indicators.
New indices measuring housing plus transportation (H+T) affordability show that low- and moderate-income families could reduce their expenses if their homes and jobs were connected through public transportation. In the Chicago metropolitan area, more than half of low- and moderate-income households spend 45% or more of their income on housing and transportation combined. Without proper community engagement and policies preventing displacement, renters, minorities and low-income households tend to be priced out of neighborhoods when new transit stops are created, to the benefit of higher-income homebuyers moving into the neighborhood.
In addition to the lack of easy connections between affordable housing and jobs, low-income communities also face environment-related health effects. These communities also lack access to fresh and nutritious food within walking distance, and they are more likely to suffer the consequences of pollution. For instance, large areas of contaminated land (“brownfields”) exist in de-industrialized, low-income neighborhoods of Chicago and the suburbs.
A limited number of “livable” communities have affordable housing that is well connected through transit to jobs and other opportunities, while the vast majority of people must rely on cars or a patchwork of poorly coordinated transit options. For our region to thrive, we need to go beyond having “pockets of sustainability”, to having an overall metropolitan area where the costs and benefits of growth are equitably distributed. We must close the gaps between communities that are livable and well-connected and those that are not. Communities with the lowest scorings in quality of life indicators should be specifically supported to achieve their sustainability goals.
In order to achieve this, community residents must be well informed about the costs of unplanned growth and disinvestment and the benefits of sustainable development. All residents, especially those traditionally disconnected from the planning and development processes, must be included and actively engaged in planning and decision-making. And equity standards should be in place and monitored to ensure that implementation of sustainable development does not benefit the better-off residents to the detriment of lower-income people.
Up to ten communities serving as regional models of sustainable development with full engagement of their community residents.
Proposed projects must show improvements in the some or all of following indicators:
- Number of residents and/or jobs within walking distance of a transit stop
- Number of vacant and underutilized acres redeveloped with compact, mixed-use development
- Percentage of residents spending less than 45% of income in housing and transit
- Number of housing units and other types of building retrofitted as energy-efficient
- Acres of parks/open space per resident
- Water and energy conservation
- Waste reduction and recycling
- Increase in use of alternative transportation (transit, bicycling and walking) and/or decreases in driving trips
- Job growth and increased business development in low-income areas
All proposed projects must show:
- High level and diversity of residents participating in planning and implementing for sustainability
- Equity in the way the benefits of sustainable development are distributed through the community
Due to the availability of community planning support through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, funding priority under this RFP is for the implementation of projects recommended in past plans, rather than planning activities themselves. Communities that lack plans but are interested in developing them are advised to contact CMAP at for further information about grant and technical assistance programs.
- Nonprofit organizations with evidence of tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or those using a 501(c)(3) fiscal agent
- Local government or collaboration among several jurisdictions
- Organizations located within and/or primarily serving residents of Cook County, except for regional, statewide or national projects or research that may benefit a substantial portion of Cook County residents
- Organizations with a commitment to diversity and inclusion for their governance, staffing, and populations served; and explicit adherence to non-discriminatory practices in the hiring of staff or in providing services on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability
- Projects that have received support from community residents through a planning process
- Efforts that are aligned with the GO TO 2040 Regional Plan and livability principles
Incomplete proposals will not be considered. Grant proposals will be evaluated, on a competitive basis, using the following criteria:
- Clarity of project description and alignment of project activities to achieve desired outcomes with a high likelihood of success
- Relationship of the project to the recommendations of past planning efforts (sustainability plans, comprehensive plans, neighborhood plans and other types) that have received support from community residents and leaders
- Achievable timeline that corresponds to the key activities
- Meaningful benchmarks and indicators of success
- Innovative and effective strategies with potential for systems change
- Organizational capacity to implement the project, including staffing and leadership, operational and fiscal management
- Established track record in the specific program area under consideration, or potential to achieve needed expertise in this program area
- Ability to leverage financial, human and technical resources leading to greater impact
- Ability to contribute new knowledge to the field
- Opportunities to scale or expand proven models while maintaining local relevance, or test new approaches that, if successful, can be grown and replicated
- Opportunities collaborative work and bringing public and private partners together with nonprofit organizations
- Demonstrated knowledge of the sustainable development and its best practices
- Alignment with the GO TO 2040 Regional Plan
*Special note on diversity and inclusion
The Trust requires all applicants to either adopt the Trust's Diversity Statement or have a similar policy adopted by their boards. The Trust believes that the diversity of our community is a fundamental strength of our region. Our mission to improve the quality of life for the residents of our region is best fulfilled when we embrace diversity as a value and a practice. We define diversity to include, but not limited to, age, disability status, economic circumstance, ethnicity, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.
Additionally, the Trust asks that applicants provide demographic data on board and staff as well as clients/beneficiaries of the projects. The Trust believes that the board and staff composition of grantees should reflect the diversity and demographics of the clients/community being served, and include diversity among its leadership at the board and senior staff levels to ensure the diverse perspectives needed at the decision-making levels. For this reason, the Trust does take into consideration the demographic make-up of the board, staff and clients of a grant applicant as an important proposal evaluation criterion.
The Trust will make up to 10 grants under this RFP. Grants will be in the range of $50,000 to $75,000 for each grant awarded. Successful applicants will receive a one-year grant. The Trust recognizes that some projects may require multi-year support and grant renewal will be considered subject to performance of grantee and availability of fund. Please think carefully about all aspects of the proposal project that require support, prioritize what you need, and budget for those items. Budget requests will be closely analyzed and applicants should include a budget narrative that makes clear the necessity of the project's specific line items.
- Financial audit
- Financial statement
- Current operating budget
- Project budget narrative/justification
- Board list
To submit a proposal, please visit our online application system, where you can register to submit your project information.