Sustainable Development Grants – February 2019

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At its February 2019 meeting, the Trust’s Executive Committee approved 18 competitive grants to local nonprofit organizations for projects in sustainable development, totaling $2,037,000.


Responsive Grants: $675,000

Responsive grants support specific programs and projects that serve a community need, or seize an opportunity for impact.

  • Calumet Collaborative, to focus the attention and resources of diverse stakeholders on integrating community, economic and environmental values in the Calumet region. (R) $150,000
  • Elevate Energy, to help ensure continuing energy efficiency, solar and workforce development programs in low- and moderate-income communities as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act. (R) $50,000
  • Energy Foundation, for strategic communications that ensure residents and policymakers across the region understand and support the Future Energy Jobs Act. (R) $200,000
  • Faith in Place, for community outreach to recruit qualified jobseekers for the FEJA Solar Training Program as a part of the implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act (R) $50,000
  • Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund, to support staff who will lead the Illinois Climate Action Table coalition efforts to reduce carbon emissions as a part of the implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act. (R) $75,000
  • Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, to engage environmental justice communities in equitably implementing the Future Energy Jobs Act. (R) $50,000
  • Metropolitan Planning Council, to partner with Elevated Chicago and others on policy recommendations for bus transit-oriented development $25,000
  • Rebuilding Exchange, to support a five-year strategic plan. $75,000


Great Rivers Chicago Grants: $150,000

A function of the Great Rivers Chicago initiative, these grants support neighborhood-based projects helping to unlock the potential of Chicago’s river system, transforming it from industrial relic to modern asset.

  • Metropolitan Planning Council, to staff the Great Rivers Chicago initiative and provide technical assistance to community groups with projects that align with the Our Great Rivers Vision. (R) $150,000


Food:Land:Opportunity Grants: $1,212,000

Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust. This multi-year initiative aims to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region’s communities.

  • Angelic Organics Learning Center, for Routes to Farm: a consortium of farmer alliances dedicated to providing support and training to local food farmers in the Chicago foodshed. The work is coordinated through a centralized, online platform that helps farmers find farmer-led services and programs to meet the needs of their growing farm businesses. The forum helps farmer alliances discuss and address the changing needs and challenges facing local farmers. Initial funding supported the creation of the alliance and the online platform. Routes to Farm has grown to include 14 farmer alliances serving over 600 farmers. Funding will allow Routes to Farm to launch a marketing campaign to enhance consumer awareness of the benefits of buying local, sustainable foods and where to buy them, which includes establishing a shared brand, a website and other marketing materials, and helping farmers implement the recommendations from the market research study. $150,000
  • Chicago Horticultural Society, for the Farm on Ogden Development (F.O.O.D) project increasing the supply of sustainably produced food in Chicago by linking a leading urban agriculture training program, a food distributor, an urban developer, health care providers and small farm businesses. Grant funding enables F.O.O.D to enhance its services through continued infrastructure improvements, comprehensive training on urban agriculture, including short courses and workshops for aquaponic farmers, and programs to support farmers as they transition from incubation to independent operation. Funding will also help to establish a new half-acre farm site several blocks east of the Farm on Ogden, increasing land access for farmers who participate in the programs. (R) $125,000
  • The Conservation Fund, for an initiative to bring new financial resources to address the challenge of land access in the peri-urban areas of the Chicago regional food system. The Fund will identify and align potential project partners and farmland protection projects among land conservation organizations to add agricultural land easements to the suite of supports for Chicago’s regional food system, local farm economies and farmland access.$110,000
  • Delta Institute, to analyze and define the current state of the Illinois grass-fed beef and dairy sector to better understand the complex value chains and current supply and demand, with the end goal of creating scenarios to develop a stronger grass-based livestock economy. Delta Institute will collaborate with the Wallace Center at Winrock International, bringing expertise from their Pasture Project initiative, to gather comprehensive baseline data critical to understanding the economic and conservation opportunity for this essential component of the local Illinois food system. $177,000
  • Dragonfly Trust, for an initiative to accelerate climate resilience strategies by promoting regenerative practices for agriculture. The initiative will engage funders, practitioners and investors to promote consistent and effective policies and practices. Activities include establishing an Accelerator Platform to connect and amplify landscape-scale climate solutions, and facilitating alliances between the conservation community and the local food sector, resulting in innovative initiatives and projects for achieving climate resilience. $175,000
  • FARM Illinois, to build the capacity of the agri-food alliance that’s implementing the Food & Agriculture RoadMap for Illinois. (R) $125,000
  • Grow Greater Englewood, to support the creation of a food and farm business model for Englewood Village Farms, a for-profit farming enterprise in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. The project looks to create a plaza in Englewood that will host a demonstration farm and a food market that connects to the Englewood trail—an endeavor that will build the local economy and connect residents to healthy green space. Funding supports GGE in their efforts to repurpose and remediate vacant land for farming, assist farmer businesses to create business plans as well as other business development trainings. In collaboration with NeighborSpace, GGE will continue efforts to secure and develop land for Englewood Village Farms, and develop remediation practices and training for farmers and large lot owners. GGE will also work with partners to re-establish a local land trust to conduct and finalize land access for newly-acquired sites. (R) $150,000
  • Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund, for a project to unite local food and farm stakeholders across all lines to create a unified vision for a resilient local food economy in Illinois. Funding will support IECEF in their efforts to build a coalition, develop policy, educate lawmakers and produce educational materials on local food policy and infrastructure needs. $75,000
  • Seven Generations Ahead, for a Food Scrap Compost Market-Building project to protect natural resources and drive economic development through a viable food scrap composting industry. To demonstrate the viability of food scrap systems in large institutions and municipalities, Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) is creating composting programs within Chicago Public Schools and schools in Lake County. SGA will provide trainings and consulting services to institutions, utilizing resources produced in previous FLO funded projects, such as the guide to residential food scrap composting. Funding supports SGA in their efforts to build advocacy, to develop initiatives through cross-sector partnerships and to deliver education aimed at state, county and municipal level decision makers who support a food scrap composting industry that will reduce food waste and provide a valuable soil amendment. (R) $125,000

(R): indicates renewal of grant support


The Trust also supported sustainable development in the region through its GO Grants. As the GO Grant multi-year pilot program concludes, these longtime partner organizations are receiving exit grants to support their work through the transition.

In addition to sustainable development, the Executive Committee also approved grants in civic & cultural vitality; education & economic development; health, housing & human services; and grants from the Unity Fund—for a total of $12,400,511 in grants awarded in February.


The Trust is currently defining the grant priorities for its next phase of work, which will focus on helping Chicago achieve the goal of closing our racial wealth gap. New opportunities to apply for grants will become available after this planning is complete. If you are a Chicago-area nonprofit, the best way to stay informed is to create an account in GrantCentral, where you can sign up to receive notifications as grant opportunities become available.