The city of Chicago announced Tuesday the establishment of a Climate Infrastructure Fund, designed to spur climate action among nonprofits and small businesses.
The $5 million fund will award grants in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. Applications are open through Feb. 24, 2023, with award notifications expected in late spring.
“The city of Chicago recognizes that the key to mitigating the climate crisis and fostering resilient neighborhoods begins at the community level,” said Angela Tovar, chief sustainability officer, in a statement. “We are thrilled to provide direct resources to our community organizations and small business on the frontlines of the climate crisis and to support their vision for a sustainable future.”
Residential projects are not eligible and while applicants don't need to live in Chicago, the project must be located within city limits.
Funding is available in three project categories, all involving permanent, climate-related infrastructure investments (not business operations or staff costs):
— Renewable energy and energy efficiency systems for existing buildings (not new construction). This includes efficiency upgrades to a building’s energy systems and/or installation of renewable energy systems or components. Think heat pump water heaters, lighting efficiency upgrades, or air sealing and insulation. No funds will be awarded for the purchase of natural gas or other fossil fuel equipment, regardless of its efficiency.
— Electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Funds can be used toward the purchase of electric vehicles, electric panel upgrades, and even Wi-Fi upgrades needed to connect to charging infrastructure.
— Green infrastructure. Grants will support native plantings and soil systems, permeable pavement, trees, bioswales, stormwater management systems and other nature-based climate solutions.
Applications will be scored on criteria related to climate mitigation and resilience factors, equity impact and project readiness, officials said.
Projects that are already underway are eligible, with the grants supporting remaining costs. On the flip side, the grants can also be used to fund a project's design phase, though competitive applications should demonstrate ability to break ground within six months, according to officials.
More information regarding proposal requirements and the application process is available online.