GRANTS & FUNDING

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: outreach@auachicago.org.

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 grants@michaelfields.org

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

Food and Farm’s Communication’s Fund is a resource for the community organizations, strategists, and media makers who are fighting to change the narrative around food and farm systems. Core Grants range from $20,000-$50,000 for one-year awards and up to $75,000 for two-year awards. Submit an application by Friday, March 10th. 
Sovereign EarthWorks (SEW) are redistributing funds via micro grants (Between $250 and $500) – SEW is a decentralized farming operation that cultivates anti-oppressive and empowering food systems in the District. We hope to provide resources, education and job opportunities for Queer, Trans, Black, and Indigenous People of Color (QTBIPOC) in our community. Please fill out this Google form and we will be in touch with you about the availability of the micro grants. 

The Soil Health Acadamy Scholarship Program- In memory of soil health pioneer Kendra Brandt, the academy offers scholorships to qualifying women and/or new begining farmers who are commited to growing the regenerative agriculture movement by impementing regenerative principles in their own operation or in regenerative agriculture education, outreach or public advocacy. Kendra Brandt scholorships provide partial tuition funding for recipients to attend a three-day SHA regenerative agriculture schol 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 recieve the scholorship. 

Big Green DAO- This DAO supports organizations that are advancing food and gardening, including (but in no way limited to) food justice, school gardens, home gardens, urban gardens, food advocacy, and regenerative agriculture. The award amounts range from 10-50k. Deadline unclear. 

The Awesome Project– What’s your awesome idea? Do you have an awesome idea that would make your Chicagoland-based community awesome? Of course you do. Apply today for a $1,000 no-strings-attached grant to make your awesome idea a reality. Their short grant application can be accessed here. 

North Central Farm and Ranch Assistance Center- Funding may be used for outreach programs or specific projects in alignment with the Center’s goal of improving outcomes for farmers, ranchers, and farm workers through education, outreach, and services to manage mental health. Award amounts are $3,000. Deadline: until funding runs out.

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.  Rolling basis.

North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center are accepting applications for short-term proposals aimed at addressing stress, stress management/assistance, and mental health among farmers, ranchers, and farm workers in the 12-state North Central region. $3,000 grants are available for projects at the intersection of agriculture and mental health. Deadline: until funds are depleted.

Brighter Future Fund was launched in 2020 to assist farmers in successfully launching, growing and sustaining farms in the face of forces impacting the food and agricultural system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, changing markets, severe weather, and climate change. In 2021, funding will be allocated to help farmers 1) Improve farm viability; 2) Access, transfer, or permanently protect farmland; or 3) Adopt regenerative agricultural practices. Amount: $5,000. Deadline: passed, sign up for an email about the next round

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.

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 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.