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

Chi-Cal Rivers Fund


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Array ( )

Geographic Focus
USA: IllinoisIndiana

Important Dates
Deadline: 07/18/23 10:59 PM CT Save

Grant Description
Grants to Illinois and Indiana nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions in eligible locations to improve watershed quality. Funding priority is intended to enhance habitat quality, improve public access, and expand 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, in-stream, upland, and wetland habitat improvements along or near the major waterways of the system. Competitive projects will achieve a range of ecological benefits, such as improving water quality, reducing erosion, and increasing the complexity, connectivity, and quality of habitat. Priority will be given to projects that improve native/natural habitats, benefit species of concern, 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 mitigate the impacts of climate change, including reducing runoff, combined sewer overflows, basement backups, and flooding through nature-based design. Competitive GSI proposals will focus primarily on the installation and/or maintenance of GSI practices that are predominantly vegetative or green, with an emphasis on nature-based design. If projects incorporate grey or constructed elements, such as pervious surfaces, these elements will need to complement a suite of proposed GSI practices that focus on natural/vegetative solutions. Priority will be given to projects that are designed with a dual purpose, to increase stormwater storage capacity while also enhancing the quality of, access to, and/or use of community green space or natural areas. For information about eligible work, see:
  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 the 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. Competitive projects will propose public-access-focused projects that also implement strategies from Funding Category 1 or Funding Category 2, delivering on-the-ground restoration or GSI benefits coupled with enhancements to public use of natural areas or greenspace. 

For information about funding priorities see:


Additional Eligibility Criteria
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.

Additional Geographic Information:

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. A map can be found at

Ineligible applicants include federal government agencies, unincorporated individuals, and private for-profit businesses.

For information about ineligible uses of grant funds, see:

Pre-Proposal Conference
An applicant webinar will take place on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, from 1:00 to 2:00 PM Central Time

Register at:

The funding opportunity webinar provides important information about 2023 funding priorities, in-depth review of the proposal narrative and highlighting priority project elements, tips for submitting competitive proposals, and FAQs.

Pre-Application Information
- Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2023, by 10:59 PM Central Time
- Proposal Review Period: August – September
- Awards Announced: November

Match is not required. The ratio of matching contributions offered to grant funding requested is one criterion considered during the review process. For information about using indirect costs as a match see:


Budget instructions:

Easygrant webinar recording:

Additional Funding Information

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant
Individual grants typically range from $150,000 to $400,000.

Term of Contract
Anticipated completion time for funded projects will typically be two (2) years or two field seasons following the 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. The start date indicated in an application should not precede November 11, 2023.

Contact Information
Apply Online:

Direct questions to:
Aislinn Gauchay
Program Director, Great Lakes

Traci Giefer
Senior Program Manager, Great Lakes

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