Programs

Grants Hub

Find opportunities for grant funding related to urban forestry and environmental initiatives.

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A variety of public and private funding opportunities may be available for your organization to accomplish your environmental and forestry goals, some of which are managed by CRTI.

Browse these resources to find grants that can help you plant and care for trees, expand your municipal or nonprofit environmental programs, tackle invasive species in your community, plant pollinator gardens, enhance your community advocacy efforts, and more! 

Be sure to read the Request for Proposals (RFP) section to determine if your entity is eligible to apply.  

The tabs on the left summarize grant options provided through CRTI and other entities. 

To help you determine your community needs and where to focus your efforts, we encourage you to check out the Community Needs and Priority Areas section. It also includes resources for developing a compelling narrative for your grant application and proposal. 

For CRTI-administered grants, we offer free application assistance. Be sure to reach out to the grant contact on the RFP for more information.

Grant funding is available for local units of government in Illinois that are managing trees on public lands in disadvantaged communities.

Funding for projects to enhance urban and community forestry in nature-deprived populations and disadvantaged communities is now available from the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry allocation of the Inflation Reduction Act. This request for proposals provides funding assistance to government entities including municipalities, park districts, counties, tribal governments, townships, forest preserves, and other units of local government in Illinois to improve the urban forest. Only entities considered disadvantaged are eligible for funding through this program. To view all eligible areas, please see this map.

Grant awards are available for a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $150,000. For all eligible projects, there is no match requirement.

Projects funded through this proposal must directly benefit disadvantaged populations of the community as defined by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening tool, HUD Opportunity Zones, and EPA EJ Screen. To view all eligible areas, please see this map. In addition, all funded projects must include the development or enhancement of a tree protection ordinance to meet the standard set in the RFP. Program areas funded through this proposal must benefit communities in disadvantaged areas and include one or more of the following program goals:

  • Increasing tree canopy in disadvantaged areas of communities through diverse tree planting on public property and care after planting;
  • Improving forest health in disadvantaged areas of communities through pruning, dead tree removals, ash treatment, pest treatment, tree mulching, watering;
  • Creating or improving community forestry programs that will benefit disadvantaged areas of the community through completion of a tree inventory paired with an urban forest management plan, development or update to a tree preservation or protection ordinance, staff training, contracting with a certified arborist for program development, development of programs for wood use, and the creation of paid on-the-job training opportunities, including pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships, to expand workforce development pathways for green careers in urban and community forestry. All projects must directly benefit disadvantaged areas of the community.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.

We highly recommend you consult with CRTI staff to ensure your project is eligible for this program. Please contact Grants.CRTI@mortonarb.org for more information. 

Access the Request for Proposals here >

Access the Application here >

Grant funding is available for Illinois municipalities with over 75,000 residents.

This opportunity provides grant funding assistance to large disadvantaged municipalities and associated park districts with over 75,000 residents. The funding enables a community to conduct an inventory of public trees within the applicant’s boundaries and create an Urban and Community Forest Management Plan based on the inventory that includes strategies for maintaining or improving tree canopy in disadvantaged areas of the community. All projects must also contain an accompanying implementation action based on the new inventory and plan. Only municipalities that are considered to be disadvantaged as defined by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening tool, HUD Opportunity Zones, and EPA EJ Screen and have over 75,000 residents are eligible for program funding. To view all eligible areas, please see this map. Park districts associated with a disadvantaged municipality may also be eligible for funding and are subject to review.

Grant awards are available for a maximum of $3,000,000. Projects funded through this proposal must directly benefit disadvantaged populations of the community. For all eligible projects, there is no match requirement.

All proposed projects must result in the following deliverables:

  1. A full digital inventory that includes 100% of the community’s public tree population.
  2. Completion of a new or updated management plan based on the inventory. The management plan’s scope shall cover the entire community and have established priority goals to improve canopy in disadvantaged areas of the community.
  3. Completed tree planting, maintenance, or other action steps informed by the management plan in disadvantaged areas of the community. This may include diverse tree planting, maintenance, pruning, dead tree removals, ash treatment, tree mulching, watering, public education in disadvantaged areas, and recovery of damaged or deteriorated landscapes to more healthy and resilient conditions.

Update December 19, 2023 – Please note: there has been one change to this Request for Proposals for the Inventory and Management Plan Grant for Communities over 75,000 Residents. “Plantable spaces” is no longer a required data field. Including plantable spaces in the inventory is now optional, but encouraged. This change is reflected in the updated Request for Proposals. For questions, please contact Grants.crti@mortonarb.org.

All funded projects must be completed by September 1, 2027.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.

We highly recommend you consult with CRTI staff to ensure your project is eligible for this program. Please contact Grants.CRTI@mortonarb.org for more information. 

Access the Request for Proposals >

Access the Application >

More funding through the IRA is coming soon.

It is a pivotal time for CRTI and urban forestry. On September 14, 2023, the USDA  Forest Service announced a historic $1 billion investment to boost the nation’s urban tree cover. We are pleased to report that The Morton Arboretum was awarded $15 million of these funds, which will be administered by CRTI to expand and improve the tree canopy in disadvantaged communities throughout Illinois. We will be announcing requests for proposals in spring 2024 for sub-grants that will benefit underserved communities to improve the urban forest.

These grants will be available to community groups, nonprofits, governments, universities, and others to do work on public land.

More information will be coming soon!

The following communities received grant awards in 2024 to improve forest health resulting from emerald ash borer damage or for emerald ash borer prevention.

Beckemeyer

North Berwyn Park District

Forest Preserve District of Cook County

Evergreen Park

Freeport Park District

Glenview

Naperville

Pana

River Forest

Roselle Park District

South Barrington

Warrenville

Washington Park District

Wood Dale

Apply for the CRTI Oak Ecosystem Community Project Grant today!

Nine $10,000 grants will be provided to landowners selected to participate in this program.

This funding is provided by Nicor Gas to support public landowner efforts to manage invasive species, replant native species, increase awareness of the impacts of invasive species and/or increase the use of best management practices in parks, forest preserves, and conservation districts across the seven-county Chicago region. Funded projects must include a volunteer opportunity for the public to participate in oak ecosystem conservation and/or management or replacement of invasive species, potentially including Nicor Gas employees.

Activities funded through this grant should include invasive species removal, tree and shrub replacements, and volunteer opportunities to remove invasive species, plant replacement species, and/or participate in an educational offering about invasive and native species.

Deadline: Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Access the Request for Proposals and Application here >

Your organization may need to fulfill certain requirements to receive grant funds.

Read the Request for Proposals (RFP) or Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) carefully to ensure that your entity is eligible to receive the offered funding.

CRTI recommends reaching out to the grant coordinator for each grant that interests you to talk about your proposed project before you start your application. This will help to use your time and personnel wisely and make sure you have a viable project before starting. The grant coordinator contact information is typically listed in the RFP or NOFO.

State and federally funded grants require your organization to have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) and an active enrollment in the federal System for Award Management (SAM).

Registration is free, but is required in order to receive funds through CRTI and many other governmental entities. The registration process can take several weeks to complete.

As part of the effort to combat the climate crisis and address environmental injustice, there are many different programs and funding opportunities available.

Additionally, many new opportunities are being made available under the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will allow communities to access critical funds. In September 2022, 10 federal departments and agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Promoting Equitable Access to Nature in Nature-Deprived Communities.  This MOU addresses nature deprivation in communities across the country, helping to direct these funds to where they are needed most and standing up the federal Nature in Communities Committee. The Nature in Communities Committee is dedicated to effectively identifying communities with nature access needs and to meaningfully engaging on community-led/driven solutions. Below is a link to a list of programs and local contacts and links to additional resources that could advance environmental justice and climate goals within Chicago specifically.

Determining your priorities as an organization is an important first step before applying for any grants.

When deciding if your organization should pursue a grant opportunity, ask the following questions:

  1. What does your community need?
  2. Is this grant opportunity in alignment with your existing mission?
  3. Do you have the capacity and resources to follow through on your commitments?
  4. Will the deliverables of the grant serve your needs as an organization or community?
  5. Who else needs to be involved for a stronger and more meaningful project? Including multiple personnel and other partners in your proposal can greatly enhance your capacity and project outcomes.

Most funders have specific goals they wish to accomplish through the funding, and most grants are offered to help the funders reach their strategic goals. Be sure to read the request for proposal closely and look at the funder’s strategic plan to determine what key goals and outcomes they are working to achieve. The funder will often reference these plans in their request for proposal.

Some important federal and state of Illinois plans to consider include:

USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Ten-Year Action Plan

The plan’s purpose is to expand awareness of the benefits that urban forests provide to communities throughout the nation and to increase investments in urban forest resources for the benefit of current and future generations.

Illinois Forest Action Plan

This statewide resource and strategy is meant to guide forestry efforts in Illinois.

Priority Areas in Our Urban Forest

The resources below can also help you determine your community’s specific needs for increasing tree canopy.

Municipal Canopy Summaries

These reports summarize the canopy cover, plantable space, and relative proportion of land use types for each municipality in the seven-county Chicago region (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties). They also compare those characteristics to similar communities and quantify some of the benefits these trees provide.

Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

This government-sponsored mapping tool uses various environmental and economic factors to determine if a census tract is considered underserved or disadvantaged in the United States.

CRTI Priority Maps

This story map integrates canopy, temperature, air quality, and socio-economic vulnerability to determine priority areas in the Chicago region.

Tree Equity Score

This scoring index uses canopy, population density, income, health, and other socioeconomic factors to determine how a community’s tree equity compares to others around the United States.

Other public and private funding sources may be available for your organization.

Browse the list below to determine if a funding opportunity is right for your goals.

Accordion List

  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, State and Private Forestry, Cooperative Forestry staff, requests applications for the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (Community Forest Program or CFP). This is a competitive grant program whereby local governments, qualified nonprofit organizations, and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for grants to establish community forests through the fee simple acquisition of private forest land from a willing seller. Applications are due March 31, 2023. Application guidance can be found here.

    Learn more about the program >

  • Community Grants are awarded for collaborative community-based projects, activities or events supporting SFI’s mission to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaborations, across the US and Canada.

    Learn more about the program >

  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provides funding on a competitive basis to projects that sustain, restore and enhance our nation’s fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. Browse NFWF’s conservation programs and learn how to apply for a grant.

    Learn more about the program >

     

  • Periodically, the IDNR awards funding to public landowners to conduct urban forestry practices. This includes inventories, planting, management plans and ordinances. Contact Colette Copic at ccopic@mortonarb.org for more information.

  • Multiple grants through the IDNR provide funds for new recreational facilities such as parks and playgrounds. The Bikeway’s Program provides for bike trail enhancement and development. The Boat Access program provides for new and improved boat accesses. The Snowmobile Access & Development program provides for new and improved snowmobile trails and trail access.

    Learn more about the program >

  • The IDNR helps public museums in Illinois expand and upgrade facilities and create new exhibits and other physical facilities to enhance public museums’ abilities to meet their mission.​

    Learn more about the program >

  • The IDNR provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space.

    Learn more about the program >

  • The Office of Resource Conservation’s Division of Wildlife Resources administers four special grant programs that are funded by Illinois sportsmen through the purchase of Habitat Stamps and Migratory Waterfowl Stamps. These are the Illinois Habitat Fund, State Pheasant Fund, State Furbearer Fund and the Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Fund. Together, these programs are designed to protect, acquire, enhance or manage wildlife habitat and to support limited research and educational programs to further advance this mission.

    Learn more about the program >