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Chi-Cal Rivers Fund

Grants to Illinois and Indiana Nonprofits, Agencies, and Educational
Institutions in Eligible Locations to Improve Watershed Quality

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

07/09/20 10:59 PM CT


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Grants to Illinois and Indiana nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions to improve watershed quality in eligible locations. Priorities include enhancing habitat quality, improving public access, and expanding green stormwater infrastructure. Projects should take place in the Chicago and Calumet Rivers waterways system.

With an emphasis along the major waterways of the system, the Fund will award grants in the following three categories.

  1. Habitat Quality
    • Funding in this category will support riparian and in-stream habitat improvements along or near the major waterways of the system listed under the Geographic Focus section. Competitive projects will improve water quality, reduce erosion, and increase the complexity, connectivity and quality of habitat. Priority will be given to projects that improve native/natural habitat, benefit species of concern, and increase biodiversity and maintain healthy native populations. Invasive species control activities, including initial treatments, subsequent retreatments and early detection and rapid response (EDRR) are eligible for funding in this category as a component of a comprehensive habitat restoration project. Applicants demonstrating the capacity, experience, and resources needed to effectively manage invasive species and preserve habitat values following initial treatments will be most competitive. 
  2. Green Stormwater Infrastructure
    • Funding in this category will support green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects that improve stormwater capture and storage to reduce runoff and urban flooding, improve water quality and aquatic environments. 
  3. Public Access
    • Funding in this category will support the creation of new and or/enhancement of interventions designed to improve public access and connectivity to, understanding, and use of natural areas in close proximity to the major waterways of the system depicted under the Geographic Focus section. Public access improvement may include but are not limited to construction of trails, green space, public access points, and infrastructure enabling use of waterways and habitats, such as paddle craft launches, wildlife viewing areas, etc. Priority will be given to projects that incorporate habitat restoration and/or green stormwater infrastructure elements into their design. All proposals should describe the rationale for selecting the project location, public access or greenspace elements proposed, identify the communities and/or target audiences that will be served by the project and how they will be meaningfully and actively engaged in the project to encourage public use of the asset.  

More information about the funding categories can be found starting at

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 144631

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Individual grant awards will range from $100,000 to $300,000.

Term of Contract:

Anticipated completion time for funded projects will typically be two (2) years or two field seasons following finalization of a grant agreement. Projects may be a discrete part of a longer-term project, provided there are definable outcomes for the proposed phase of the overall effort. The project narrative should include a clear timetable or schedule for project completion. Project start and end dates should define the period during which all proposed work is accomplished, all requested funds are spent, and all matching contributions are spent or applied.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible and Ineligible Entities:
- Eligible applicants include nonprofit 501(c) organizations, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, tribal governments, and educational institutions. To be competitive, applicant organizations must demonstrate capacity and experience commensurate with the scale of the project being proposed and the funding being requested.
- Ineligible applicants include federal government agencies, unincorporated individuals, and private for-profit businesses.

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds:
- NFWF funds and matching contributions may not be used to support political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, litigation, terrorist activities or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
- NFWF funds may not be used to support ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements, including permit conditions, mitigation and settlement agreements. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts. 

Pre-proposal Conference:

Chi-Cal Rivers Fund 2020 Funding Opportunity Webinar:

Fund partners will host a webinar on June 10, 2020 at 10:00 AM Central Time.

The webinar will provide: additional information about funding priorities; in-depth review of the proposal narrative and highlighting priority project elements; examples of past projects; tips for submitting competitive proposals; and answers to participant questions. Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to participate.

To Register:

Pre-Application Information:

- 2020 Chi-Cal Funding Opportunity Webinar: June 10, 10:00 AM Central Time
- Full Proposal Due Date: July 9, 10:59 PM Central Time
- Review and Approval Period: July – November
- Awards Announced: Early November

Please note the preparation of grant agreements will require approximately 4 to 6 weeks from the time the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation receives the additional required information from the grantee.

Once grant agreements are finalized, funds will typically be paid to grantees on a reimbursable basis. Funds may be advanced to qualified grantees on an as-needed basis.

The ratio of matching contributions offered to grant funding requested is one criterion considered during the review process. Projects that meet or exceed a 1:1 match ratio to grant request tend to be most competitive, but providing 1:1 match is not required for a project to be eligible or considered for funding. Matching contributions provided in your proposal should represent the total leverage brought to bear for the proposed project and may include cash, in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer time, work performed, materials and services donated, or other tangible contributions to the project objectives and outcomes. The cost of land acquisition or easement may also qualify as match for a project involving work at the protected site. In addition, eligible indirect costs (that would not be paid with requested grant funding) may be applied as match.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

Direct questions to:
Aislinn Gauchay
Program Director, Great Lakes

Traci Giefer
Program Manager, Great Lakes

Grant Coverage Areas:

Chicago and Calumet Rivers region: To be eligible for funding, projects must occur in close proximity to or otherwise demonstrate direct benefits to the major waterways of the system and their tributaries. See

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois;   Indiana

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