Climate Infrastructure Fund Grants Will Support Solar Arrays, Electric Vehicles and Other Sustainable Improvements Citywide

January 30, 2024

Department of Planning and Development    312.744.9267

Twenty-two small businesses and nonprofits were selected for Climate Infrastructure Fund grants that will help Chicago neighborhoods transition to a green economy and combat the effects of climate change, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced today.   

Ranging from $75,000 to $250,000 each, the grants will help pay for renewable energy and fossil-free energy efficiency investments; electric vehicles and charging stations; “green” stormwater management upgrades; and other improvements that promote neighborhood resiliency. Total project costs are estimated at $5.1 million.   

"These Climate Infrastructure Fund grants mark a significant stride towards a greener, more resilient Chicago, aligning with our city's commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 62% by 2040,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said. “By supporting these innovative projects, we are not just addressing climate change but fostering a healthier and more sustainable future for our communities.” 

Climate Infrastructure Fund grants are funded by proceeds from a 2021 City of Chicago bond issue associated with the Chicago Recovery Plan. Total funding to be disbursed is approximately $3.7 million. 

“Nearly 70 percent of Chicago’s greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings,” Department of Environment Commissioner and Chief Sustainability Officer Angela Tovar said. “The Climate Infrastructure Fund provides essential funding for small businesses and nonprofit organizations to adopt clean energy strategies that will result in lowering emissions across Chicago while reducing operating costs, improving indoor air quality, and increasing comfort for building occupants.”     

For example, eight renewable energy or high-efficiency projects will shift awardees’ dependence on fossil fuels while deeply reducing emissions, lowering utility costs and improving occupancy comfort. For example:   

  • On the Near West Side, St. Leonard’s Ministries will install heat pump technology along with air sealing and insulation at St. Leonard’s House, a transitional home that serves justice-impacted men.  
  • In Uptown, a solar array planned for Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church in Uptown will generate 29,100 kWh and completely cover the facility’s annual electricity needs, along with the installation of high efficiency lighting.  
  • In Woodlawn, the Narrow Bridge Arts Club will add a 72-kilowatt solar installation as part of its adaptive reuse of a former synagogue that will bring a woodshop, dance and fiber studios and co-working spaces to the community.  

 Eleven electrical vehicle-related projects will reduce awardees’ dependence on gas-fueled vehicles while expanding the number of charging locations in underserved neighborhoods. For example:  

  • ChiFresh Kitchen, a worker cooperative owned and determined by formerly incarcerated Chicagoans, will begin decarbonizing its fleet with the purchase of two e-transit vans and the installation of two charging stations at its South Shore facility.   
  • Imani Village in Pullman will purchase electric vehicles and two charging stations to help the mixed-use campus expand its ongoing resiliency efforts, while showcasing the benefits of fleet electrification to the organization’s advocates, tenants, and community members.  

Three green infrastructure projects will help collect rainwater -- mitigating flooding -- and create habitat for wildlife. For example:   

  • A community “peace garden” planned by the Historic Pullman Empowerment Organization in Pullman will provide natural landscaping for passive recreation, among other benefits.  
  • A rooftop garden planned by The Insect Asylum in Avondale will provide native landscaping for outdoor education, among other benefits.  

Finalists were selected from 88 proposals submitted during a six-month application period last year. Proposals were reviewed by an advisory committee consisting of climate and nonprofit professionals and City staff, and evaluations were based on a variety of factors including neighborhood equity, climate impact, readiness and community benefits, among others.  

Grant awards are distributed incrementally as individual project phases are completed.   

A full list of winners and award amounts are available on DPD’s Chicago Recovery Plan website.   

A previous funding round announced in May 2023 awarded Climate Infrastructure Fund grants valued at $6.2 million for 32 businesses and nonprofits.  

In addition to Climate infrastructure grants, Mayor Johnson today announced more than 50 additional awardees for grants involving equitable transit-oriented construction, community development and historic preservation.