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: ou******@au********.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 gr****@mi***********.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

The Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) supports the development, coordination, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing; local and regional food markets and enterprises; and value-added agricultural products. Deadline: May 14, 2024

The Fund-a-Farmer grant by Food Animal Concerns Trust will help fund grants for farmers seeking to become Certified Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, or Global Animal Partnership Animal Welfare Certified, grants for already welfare certified farmers to build additional capacity, and grants for farmers to improve and expand pasture for their animals. In 2023, they awarded $250,000 to 87 farms. Deadline: 11:59 PM EST on January 15th, 2024

The Illinois State Board of Education’s Local Food For Schools program aims to provide $7.3 million dollars in funding for school districts to purchase fresh food from local farms. Every school distrcit in Illinois that participates in the National School Lunch Program is automatically eligible to receive reimbursement for purchasing local, unprocessed food from socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers,and small businesses. Funding is available between August 2023 and December 2024 and non competitive applications are open now for the 2023-2024 school year.

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.


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

The USDA Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program is intended to bring together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system and to foster understanding of national food security trends and how they might improve local food systems. Projects should address food and nutrition security, particularly amongst our nation’s most vulnerable populations. The average individual award will range from $25,000 to $35,000 for a 12-36 moth project. Deadline: 10/30/2023 at 5 PM EST

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.