Check here for the latest opportunities in grants and funding for urban agriculture projects in Chicago. If you have an opportunity to share, please send information to:

Michael Fields Agriculture Institute’s Grant Advising Program provides free grant writing assistance, including clarifying and articulating ideas, assessing which grant program fits needs, and crafting a high-quality proposal. Interested individuals and organizations can also be added to an e-mail list announcing new grant opportunities by making a request to

Additionally, resources from the Land Connection Newsletter has a blog about project development, and a grant-writing webinar from 2020.

Funding Opportunities for Growers and Food System Work


The Soil Health Academy Scholarship Program- In memory of soil health pioneer Kendra Brandt, the academy offers scholarships to qualifying women and/or new beginning farmers who are committed to growing the regenerative agriculture movement by implementing regenerative principles in their own operation or in regenerative agriculture education, outreach or public advocacy. Kendra Brandt scholarships provide partial tuition funding for recipients to attend a three-day SHA regenerative agriculture school and will be awarded based on the applicant’s brief narrative describing how they intend to advance the movement of regenerative agriculture on their farm and community, if selected to receive the scholarship.

Local Food Purchasing Assistant Program was established by the USDA to strengthen statewide food systems over two years. Funds will buy food from socially disadvantaged growers/producers and distribute it at no cost to community members. In Illinois, $28 million in funds will be received by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and distributed by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Funding will be used to buy locally produced fresh or minimally processed foods at a fair market value. Deadline: 10/31/2023

The “Grow Local and Regional Food Systems” round of funding builds on previous grantmaking by the Chicago Region Food System Fund to strengthen a resilient food system for the Chicago region. Goals for round two include identifying and addressing bottlenecks and barriers in building equitable local and regional production and distribution capacity; increasing participation by those who have been marginalized in the system; and developing technology and other innovations to support new value chain and social movement integrations. Projects on enhancing the resilience and adaptability of local food systems may focus on building the system’s capacity as a whole or enhancing the scope, reach, and impact of individual organizations. Grants will be available ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 in $25,000 increments. 
Deadline: 10/23/2023 at 11:59 PM CT

Rolling Applications

The Awesome Foundation – Chicago Chapter has been funding awesomeness in the Windy City since the summer of 2011. They’ve funded everything from little free libraries and puppet shows to electron microscopes and a temporary mini golf course on Milwaukee Avenue. The Chicago trustees generally meet on the third Tuesday of every month to review proposals.

The Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program provides $10,000 in funding for resident-driven groups in small cities and towns to start the Community Heart & Soul model. Grant funding requires a $10,000 cash match from the participating municipality or a partnering organization. Deadline: Ongoing

Clif Bar Family Foundation provides grants to 501(c)3 organizations that are working to protect natural resources, strengthen communities and the food system, and enhance public health. Priority is given to applicants that address the funding priorities from a holistic perspective. Applications are reviewed three times a year; the deadlines are the 1st of October, February and June.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is supporting projects that have explored ways to prevent and address the effects of climate change, eliminate food waste, and transform food systems through its Pioneering Ideas: Exploring the Future to Build a Culture of Health Program. It will fund projects that understand how changes to where and how food is produced, sold, shared, consumed, and disposed of impacts health equity, changes our diets, and could offer potential solutions to climate change. Grants average around $300,000 for 1 to 3 year long projects. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. 

State and Federal Grant Opportunities

SARE Youth Educator Grants are competitive grants up to $4,000 for educators to provide programming on sustainable agriculture for youth. Application Deadlines: Vary by program.

USDA Community Prosperity resource matrix organizes funding opportunities available for rural and underserved communities. This resource guide includes technical, training and planning assistance as well as financial assistance. Go to page 8 for grant resources.

USDA Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program are loans for Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) to help startup and grow through training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and entrepreneurs. Businesses located in a city or town with a population fewer than 50,000 residents with 10 or fewer full time employees are eligible. Up to $205,000 in grants is available annually for technical assistance to rural microentreprenuers or microenterprises. Loans of $50,000 to $500,000 can be used to establish a Rural Microloan Revolving Fund.  Deadline: ongoing.

Open Enrollment Loan & Financing Opportunities

Kiva provides 0% interest loans of up to $10,000 to entrepreneurs, including urban farm businesses. To promote urban farmers’ access to capital, AUA is a proud Kiva Trustee, which means we help spread the word on these valuable resources and publicly vouch for urban farm entrepreneurs. Kiva trustees do not handle or disburse the loans. To learn more, please review the program overview and step-by-step guide to apply.

USDA Farm Storage Facility Loans provide up to $50,000 in low-interest financing to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store or process agricultural products. Most recently, these loans made available funding for refrigerated vehicles. Funding: Up to $500,000 per loan.

USDA Farm Service Agency Microloans provide up to $50,000 in financial assistance for small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm ownership or operations. Non-traditional farm operations can include truck farms, farms, direct marketing farmers, Community Supported Agriculture, restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponics, organic, and/or vertical growing methods. Maximum of $50,000.

USDA EZ Guarantee Loans provides $100,000 to help beginning, small underserved, and family farmers and ranchers to purchase farmland or finance agricultural operations. The USDA also added a new category of lenders, including microlenders. Funding: Up to $100,000.