Chi–Cal Rivers Fund Announces $1 Million in Grants

Public–private partnership funds four projects to improve stormwater management, habitat, and green space in Chicago/Calumet region

DECEMBER 10, 2013, CHICAGO, Illinois – Today, eight public and private organizations partnered to award $1 million to improve and enhance waterways in the Chicago and Calumet region.  Four grants will be used to enhance green space and reduce stormwater runoff at Chicago Public Schools, add fish habitat in the Chicago River, and improve natural areas along the Calumet, Little Calumet, Grand Calumet and Chicago Rivers.  The grants are being made by the Chi–Cal Rivers Fund (Fund), a new funding collaborative created by the partner organizations to bring together money and expertise in support of community-driven projects that benefit the people and wildlife of the region.  Grant recipients include Chicago Public Schools, Friends of the Chicago River, Friends of the Forest Preserves, and The Nature Conservancy.

Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the Fund is a partnership among ArcelorMittal, The Chicago Community Trust, Crown Family Philanthropies, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Joyce Foundation, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), and the Wrigley Company Foundation.  Partners have currently committed $2.5 million to the Fund over three years, and the $1 million announced today marks the Fund’s first set of grants.

“The MWRD is excited to see the first round of projects awarded.  This partnership encourages other organizations to engage in the important activity of protecting our waterways,” said MWRD President Kathleen Meany.

“ArcelorMittal is proud to participate in this promising public–private partnership to protect and restore critical water resources while also promoting habitat conservation,” said Bill Steers, President, ArcelorMittal USA Foundation.  “We recognize the important role that the Chicago and Calumet watersheds play in promoting quality of life for our employees and citizens as well as the economic viability of the Calumet region on both sides of the Illinois–Indiana state line.”

With an emphasis on the major waterways of the region, the Fund awards grants for increasing stormwater storage capacity through green infrastructure, enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, and improving public-use opportunities.  Collectively, the four grants announced today will support the:

  • installation of more than 241,000 square feet of green stormwater infrastructure
  • addition of more than 1.1 million gallons of stormwater storage capacity
  • restoration and enhancement of 500 acres of riparian, wetland and upland habitat
  • improvement of approximately 4,000 feet of in-stream fish habitat
  • addition or improvement of nearly 13 acres of new public park space

Chicago Public Schools will use a grant of $271,313 to support installation of green infrastructure and new community space at four schools (Virgil Grissom, Theophilus Schmid, Donald Morrill, and George Leland Elementary Schools).  Along with turf fields, play structures, and other improvements, plans to renovate outdoor spaces at these schools include the installation of 241,000 square feet of vegetated swales, rain gardens, and pervious surfacing.  This work will add 1.1 million gallons of on-site stormwater storage capacity and improve recreational opportunities for local communities by providing 12.7 acres of new park space.  This project will help reconnect communities with their local public schools, provide green space in otherwise heavily urbanized neighborhoods, and significantly reduce stormwater runoff across the city.

Friends of the Chicago River will use $300,000 in grant funding for the installation of in-stream habitat structures that will help enhance fish populations within the Chicago Area Waterway System.  A total of 400 habitat structures will be placed in channel bottoms and streambeds at six locations where suitable fish habitat is currently limited or nonexistent.  Consisting of 3-foot sections of PVC pipe attached to concrete building blocks, the structures will provide spawning cavities for channel catfish and cover for largemouth bass, sunfish and other fish species.  By adding structural complexity, spawning habitat and refuge, this project will make the river system more hospitable to many fish species and lead to improved angling opportunities for local communities.

Friends of the Forest Preserves will receive $271,313 in grant funding to support coordination of the Centennial Network – a network of more than 6,000 volunteers dedicated to restoring habitat in the Chicago and Calumet region.  With support from this grant, the network will restore a minimum of 112 acres at five sites along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the Little Calumet River.  Volunteers will remove invasive species, disperse native seeds, and install more than 150 square feet of bioswales at each location.  By reducing invasive vegetation, increasing native plant cover, and improving streambank stability, this work will improve habitat, reduce erosion, and improve water quality.  In addition, the Centennial Network will broaden local support for habitat restoration and increase the number of conservation stewards in the region.

The Nature Conservancy will use a $157,375 grant to develop and implement a cooperative and comprehensive approach for controlling invasive species, managing restoration activities, and monitoring habitat on 388 acres in the Grand Calumet Area of Concern in Lake County, Indiana.  With a focus on four geographic areas, The Nature Conservancy and partners will remove invasive trees and shrubs, grow and plant thousands of native plants, and conduct regular monitoring and habitat management to prevent new invasive species from becoming established.  By coordinating the efforts of landowners to accomplish this work, this project will contribute to the delisting of habitat-related beneficial use impairments within the Grand Calumet River Area of Concern.

“The important social and ecological benefits these projects will generate are made possible by a unique partnership,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.  “Corporations, foundations, public agencies and non-profit organizations are working together to support a shared vision of vibrant rivers in this region.”

Chi-Cal Rivers Fund partners anticipate announcing the next Request for Proposals in June 2014.  For more information, please visit and follow the program on Twitter (@ChiCalRivers).

About National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)

A nonprofit chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation sustains, restores and enhances the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats.  NFWF creates partnerships between the public and private sectors to invest in conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.  To date, NFWF has awarded more than 12,000 grants to more than 4,000 organizations in the U.S. and abroad and leveraged – with its partners – more than $618 million in federal funds into over $2.1 billion for conservation.  For more information, visit

About ArcelorMittal

ArcelorMittal is the world's leading steel and mining company, with a presence in more than 60 countries.

ArcelorMittal is the leader in all major global steel markets, including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging, with leading R&D and technology, as well as sizeable captive supplies of raw materials and outstanding distribution networks.  With an industrial presence in over 20 countries spanning four continents, the Company covers all of the key steel markets, from emerging to mature.

Through its core values of sustainability, quality and leadership, ArcelorMittal commits to operating in a responsible way with respect to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, contractors and the communities in which it operates.  It is also committed to the sustainable management of the environment.  It takes a leading role in the industry's efforts to develop breakthrough steelmaking technologies and is actively researching and developing steel-based technologies and solutions that combat climate change.

In 2012, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $84.2 billion and crude steel production of 88.2 million tonnes, representing approximately 6 percent of world steel output.

ArcelorMittal is listed on the stock exchanges of New York (MT), Amsterdam (MT), Paris (MT), Luxembourg (MT) and on the Spanish stock exchanges of Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia (MTS).

For more information about ArcelorMittal visit

About ArcelorMittal USA Foundation

The ArcelorMittal USA Foundation makes grants in three primary focus areas: education, environment, and health and safety.  In 2012, the Foundation provided more than $6.1 million in grants to nonprofit organizations focused on improving the environment, education, and health and safety of our communities.  The Foundation supports those communities in which its employees live and its business and clients operate.

About The Chicago Community Trust

For 98 years, The Chicago Community Trust, our region’s community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago.  In 2012, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $100 million to nonprofit organizations.  From strengthening schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping communities improve the quality of their built and natural environments, the Trust continues to enhance our region.  The Trust also invests in the Calumet through the Millennium Reserve project, designated by Governor Quinn in 2011. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at

About Crown Family Philanthropies

Crown Family Philanthropies environmental grantmaking supports efforts to value, preserve and restore natural ecosystems through innovative science-based approaches, emphasizing collaborative efforts which deliver measurable results.

About Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Established in 1952, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation and artistic vitality efforts in the Chicago Region and Lowcountry of South Carolina.  The Foundation seeks to foster land conservation through preservation, restoration, and protection of landscape-scale lands. Particular focus areas include the Calumet Region and the Cook County Forest Preserves.  See more about the Foundation at

About Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages, conserves and protects Illinois natural, recreational and cultural resources through regulation and stewardship and promotes the education and science of these resources for present and future generations.  Agency programs help citizens enhance their property with conservation programs, protect the public from harm and increase community economic value through grant funding.  Agency-supported outdoor recreation initiatives have an annual multi-billion dollar positive economic impact to local communities.  For more information, visit

About the Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation supports the development of policies that both improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and serve as models for the rest of the country.  The foundation focuses on today's most pressing problems while also informing the public policy decisions critical to creating opportunity and achieving long-term solutions.  The work is based on sound research and is focused on where the foundation can add the most value. The Joyce Foundation encourages innovative and collaborative approaches with a regional focus and the potential for a national reach. Learn more at

About Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Established in 1889, the MWRD ( is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.  The MWRD protects the health and safety of the public in its service area, protects the quality of the water supply source (Lake Michigan), improves and protects the quality of water in watercourses, protects businesses and homes from flood damages, and manages water as a vital resource.  The MWRD’s service area is 883.5 square miles of Cook County, Illinois. The MWRD is committed to achieving the highest standards of excellence in fulfilling its mission.

About the Wrigley Company Foundation

The mission of the Wrigley Company Foundation is to help improve the health of people and our planet through sustainable initiatives, including those focused on environmental stewardship, as well as local needs that ensure a healthy community.  Since its founding in 1987, the Wrigley Company Foundation has donated more than $60 million USD to charitable organizations improving lives around the world.  For more information, visit and