For the past decade, the ComEd Green Region Grant has provided funding to municipalities all over Northern Illinois for conservation projects that plan for, protect, and restore natural places and support climate resilience and pollinator habitats. In celebration of its tenth year, ComEd has expanded the applicant pool to include a wider variety of organizations. Non-profit organizations, schools, school districts, housing authorities, townships, counties, park districts, conservation districts, forest preserve districts, and municipalities within ComEd’s service territory are now all eligible to apply for matching awards up to $10,000.
Since 2013, ComEd competitive grant programs have made investments in communities to improve their infrastructure and quality of life. Collectively, these programs have delivered funding to improve green infrastructure, like parks, and to expand clean transportation in communities across northern Illinois.
Due to the success of Grant projects over the previous decade, the teams at ComEd and Openlands hope that expanding the opportunity to include a broader range of organizations will diversify the types of projects pursued. Projects can include, but are not limited to, planting trees, building rain gardens and butterfly gardens at schools, remediating toxic soil, and landscaping with native plants.
The ComEd Green Region Grants are flexible and available to any organization listed above that can outline a project plan based on the program guidelines. While a variety of projects will be accepted, priority will be shown to projects that demonstrate a climate resiliency focus. The climate crisis is an imminent threat that puts the Chicago region at an increased risk for flooding, extreme heat, and invasive species. Along with the threat of climate change, overdevelopment has led to severe habitat loss that puts pollinators, on which the food chain depends, at risk of endangerment and extinction. Projects that increase native plantings, build the tree canopy, remove invasive species, capture rainwater and purify waterways all have a very real impact on the health of our ecosystems and the resilience of our region.
Previous grantees like the Chicago Park District, who received a grant in 2018 to install native plants and repair trails to increase site access at Palmisano Park in Bridgeport, have already seen an increase in butterfly traffic. According to Jason Steger, the Natural Areas Manager for the Chicago Park District, “The ComEd Green Region grant allowed us to improve pollinator habitat at Palmisano Park in a meaningful way. Volunteers of all ages helped us install the thousands of flowering native plants we were able to purchase with grant funds. In an area that was previously dominated by grasses, these plants provide food for pollinators and enhance the color palette of the natural area throughout the growing season.”
Applications are open until March 25 at 5pm, and no matter how small the project scope, all qualifying organizations are encouraged to apply! Organizations will require a cash match equal or greater to the funding requested at the time of application. If you have an idea for a conservation project at your organization, you are encouraged to apply for the 2022 ComEd Green Region Grant. If you are unsure whether your project idea qualifies for the Grant, feel free to reach out to the Green Region team at Openlands.