We offer grants for general operations and projects; technical assistance; and program-related investments to organizations for work that leads to landscape-scale land preservation and stewardship. We also convene groups and encourage participation in strategic partnerships. We support efforts throughout the greater Chicago region (see Chicago Wilderness Vision map below for range) with current emphasis on five landscapes: Calumet, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Grand Kankakee, Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.


To Protect and Restore

There are nearly 10 million people living in Greater Chicagoland, making it the third largest metropolitan region in the country. Nevertheless, there is a long tradition of preserving and restoring land. Currently, more than 550,000 acres of woodlands, wetlands and prairie lands are permanently protected. The Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision Map has a goal to expand, buffer and connect those protected lands further still (see map at left). The ultimate goal is to achieve a thriving, interconnected network of approximately a million and a half acres.

We offer grants to support landscape-scale natural area restoration and stewardship. Occasionally, when opportunities arise to preserve lands of exceptional strategic significance, we offer program-related investments to existing grantees.


To Grow Stronger

Restoring land is a big job. Stewarding it long-term is an even bigger job. That’s why we offer general operating grants to sustain land conservation organizations, as well as capacity-building grants to help them meet expanded land restoration and stewardship opportunities. We also encourage partnerships and collaborations to accelerate and enhance our region’s conservation goals.


To Advocate Change

Land conservation progress also occurs at the policy level. For this reason, we support advocacy efforts to align federal, state, regional, and local policy and planning opportunities with established land conservation goals.


  • You must be a 501(c)(3) public charity or unit of government.
  • You must be in compliance with the Secretary of State where your organization is headquartered.
  • You must have completed at least one full fiscal year of operations before applying.
  • You must have a demonstrated track record of advancing landscape-scale natural area acquisition, restoration, or stewardship, and the work must be within the Chicago Wilderness Region geography (see map at left).
  • If you are new to us, please contact the Chicago office to discuss your proposal before applying.


The following are not eligible:

  • Individuals.
  • Religious activities, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying.
  • Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos.
  • Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction.


Our 2021 proposal deadlines are March 26, 2021 and July 30, 2021. 

Please contact Rebecca Judd at – our Program Officer, Conservation – at least 2 months in advance of the deadline to discuss your work.

Application forms will be posted in February 2021.