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Funding and Grant Opportunities

Below is information related to federal funding opportunities compiled by the Illinois EPA. Illinois EPA encourages all eligible entities to apply. See details below for information about open opportunities, eligibility, and application deadlines for various grants, including the historic $2B Community Change Grants and the soon to be announced subgrants available through U.S. EPA’s EJ Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program.

To receive e-mailed updates on resources, grant opportunities, and webinars related to EJ in Illinois, please sign up for the Illinois EPA, Office of EJ, EJ Listserv here.

*Please note: Illinois EPA is not administering these grant programs and has no role in reviewing applications or overseeing project implementation. This webpage is intended to alert eligible entities to the funding opportunities and thereby increase federal investments in Illinois that will benefit disadvantaged communities.

For more information: If you need assistance navigating the various U.S. EPA funding opportunities outlined below, please reach out to the Illinois EPA Office of EJ (EPA.OEJ@illinois.gov).

U.S. EPA Community Change Grants (CCG)

The U.S. EPA CCGs aim to support environmental and climate justice activities that benefit disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to respond to environmental and climate justice challenges. 

The activities to be performed under the grants are expected to fall under the following categories:

  • Climate resiliency and adaptation.
  • Mitigating climate and health risks from urban heat islands. extreme heat, wood heater emissions, and wildfire events.
  • Community-led air and other (including water and waste) pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation.
  • Investments in low- and zero-emission and resilient technologies and related infrastructure.
  • Workforce development that supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.
  • Reducing indoor toxics and indoor air pollution.
  • Facilitating the engagement of disadvantaged communities in State and Federal advisory groups, workshops, rulemakings, and other public processes.

Track I: Community-Driven Investments for Change

Track I is the primary emphasis for the Community Change Grants. These projects will be implemented through strong collaborations to achieve sustained impacts related to climate resilience, pollution reduction, community health, economic prosperity, and community strength. This approach catalyzes change by focusing on the following objectives: 

  • Increase community resilience through climate action activities
  • Reduce local pollution to improve public health
  • Center meaningful community engagement
  • Build community strength
  • Reach priority populations
  • Maximize integration across projects

Track II: Meaningful Engagement for Equitable Governance

Under Track II, eligible applicants may submit projects, as described in CAA § 138(b)(2)(E), for “facilitating engagement of disadvantaged communities in State and Federal advisory groups, workshops, rulemakings, and other public processes.”

EPA has interpreted “other public processes” as encompassing local, Tribal, and other governmental processes. All funded activities under this NOFO must comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations listed in Section I H of the NOFO

Eligibility & Partnerships: Applications must meet all eligibility criteria, as outlined in Section III of the Notice of Funding Opportunity, to be considered for funding.

  • A partnership between at least two community-based non-profit organizations (CBOs).
  • A partnership between a CBO and one or any combination of the following:
    • a Federally-Recognized Tribe;
    • a local government; or
    • an institution of higher education.
  • Other entities can be involved in projects as collaborating entities.

Grants cannot exceed three years (no extensions). Deadline to apply is November 21, 2024. U.S. EPA will award all grants by September 30, 2026.

The CCG Technical Assistance Program (CCTA) will be holding a series of informational webinars every Tuesday afternoon from 2-3 pm CT through at least March 2024 on the CCG Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). Led by members of U.S. EPA's Office of EJ & External Civil Rights, this webinar series will give an in-depth look at NOFO content and requirements, explain available technical assistance, and allow questions about the grant application process.

*See detailed information on U.S. EPA’s slides and access additional quick links below. Illinois EPA also issued a statewide press release on this U.S. EPA CCG opportunity.

U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program (Grantmakers)

U.S. EPA has selected 11 EJ Thriving Communities Grantmakers (i.e., Grantmakers) that will receive $600 million to serve as pass-through entities. Grantmakers through cooperative agreements will provide subgrants to community-based nonprofits and other eligible subrecipients. The subgrants may be used for assessment, planning, and project development activities. This program is distinct from the Community Change Grant program.

The goal of the Grantmakers is to alleviate the burden that the federal grants process places on small, resource-constrained community-based organizations. Grantmakers will issue subgrants to disadvantaged communities over the next three years. *More information on how to apply for subgrants will be available soon.*

The Grantmakers consist of Regional Grantmakers who will issue subgrants to communities in specific U.S. EPA Regions, as well as National Grantmakers who will provide additional support, coordination, and oversight to the subgrantees, applicants, and the Regional Grantmakers themselves, as well as issue additional subgrants to fill potential gaps in the regions.

See detailed information related to the Regional and National Grantmakers here. The list below includes information specific to the state of Illinois (Region 5). 

National Grantmaker Selectees

  • Regions Served: 4-7
  • Selectee: Research Triangle Institute
  • Partners: International City/County Management Association (ICMA) (Washington, DC), National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) (Columbia, MD), and Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) (Charlottesville, VA)

Regional Grantmaker Selectees

  • Region: 5 (serves Illinois)
  • Selectee: The Minneapolis Foudnation 
  • Partners: Midwest Environmental Justice Network (Minneapolis, MN), The RE-AMP Network (Madison, WI), NDN Collective (Rapid City, SD)

Structure of Subgrants: Community-based nonprofit organizations and other eligible organizations seeking subgrant funding will be able to apply for subgrants through three concurrent tiers offered by the Grantmakers.

  • Tier I – Assessment (Projects up to $150K)
    • In addition, $75,000 will be available for capacity-constrained community-based organizations through a noncompetitive process under Tier I
  • Tier II – Planning (Projects up to $250K)
  • Tier III – Development (Projects up to $350K)

Eligibility for Subgrants:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Community-based and grassroots nonprofit organizations
  • Native American Organizations
  • Local governments
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Ineligible subrecipients include individuals, for-profit businesses, and state governments 

Timeline: Grantmakers will receive their funds in Spring 2024 and applications will open in Summer 2024

*More information on the Grantmakers Subgrants can be found here.

U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (TCTACs)

U.S. EPA, in partnership with U.S. Department of Energy, has selected 16 TCTACs. Each of the TCTACs will receive at least $10 million to remove barriers and improve accessibility for communities with EJ concerns. TCTACs will provide training and other assistance to build capacity for navigating federal grant application systems, developing strong grant proposals, and effectively managing grant funding.

In addition, TCTACs will provide guidance on community engagement, meeting facilitation, and translation and interpretation services for limited English-speaking participants.

The EJ TCTACs for Illinois (Region 5) are Blacks in Green and the University of Minnesota, with partners, including The School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago, The Smart Energy Design Center of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (SEDAC), and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The EJ TCTACs are now accepting technical assistance requests. To submit a request for technical assistance from Blacks in Green or the University of Minnesota, follow the links below:

Please note: The TCTACs are a distinct technical assistance service from the Community Change Grants. If you are interested in technical assistance for the Community Change Grants, please visit: Community Change Grants Technical Assistance.

TCTAC Events Open to the Public:

  • February 20, 2024: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Extension is hosting a Thriving Communities Webinar Series to discuss the CCGs. See webinar details here.
  • Blacks in Green (BIG) held their TCTAC launch event February 1-3, 2024. Learn more about BIG here

For more detailed information on the above opportunities and more, visit U.S. EPA’s overview of grant opportunities.