NFWF’s Chi-Cal Rivers Fund Announces $1.85 Million in Grants

Grants will provide investments for habitat, climate resilience and community engagement

Canvasback duck

CHICAGO (December 12, 2023) – The Chi-Cal Rivers Fund partners today announced $1.85 million in grants to improve and enhance waterways in the Chicago-Calumet region. These investments will protect and conserve fish and wildlife habitat, reduce stormwater runoff, and improve access to and use of natural areas and greenspace for communities. The grants will generate $1.7 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $3.55 million.

The grants were awarded through the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund (Chi-Cal), a partnership between NFWF and BNSF Railway, Cleveland-Cliffs, Crown Family Philanthropies, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Hunter Family Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Salesforce, the Walder Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

“The grants awarded today will build on the long-standing public-private partnership in the Chicago-Calumet region to advance a community-based approach for clean water and habitat,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “These latest grant awards will support efforts to add nature-based stormwater storage to improve flood resiliency, restore wetland and upland habitat to benefit species, and build on efforts to increase community benefits in nature.”

“Joyce is proud to help support projects that reduce flooding and improve Chicago’s waterways today and for the next generation in our region,” said Elizabeth Cisar, director of the Joyce Foundation’s Environment Program.

The projects supported by the six grants announced today will restore wetland and riparian habitat to benefit migratory birds and native fish species such as longnose gar; install green stormwater infrastructure that reduces runoff and creates community greenspaces to enhance residents’ quality of life; and continue to improve habitat in Chicago and northwest Indiana through tree planting and invasive species control. 

“Given the increasing climate impacts our region is facing, the work accomplished through this partnership is more vital than ever,” said David Farren, executive director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. “By coordinating and leveraging our collective funds, we can achieve more powerful results for the communities, people, and ecosystems within the Chicago and Calumet watersheds.”  

“As the leading mode of environmentally friendly transportation on land with a commitment to reducing our CO2 emissions 30 percent by 2030, BNSF’s support of the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund rounds out our environmental efforts for land, air and sea,” said Peter Skosey, executive director of government affairs, BNSF Railway.

Since 2013, Chi-Cal has awarded 66 grants totaling $14.6 million drawing an additional $29.1 million for total conservation investment of more than $43.7 million.

A complete list of the 2023 grants made through the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund is available here.    

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, foundation and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $8.1 billion. NFWF is an equal opportunity provider. Learn more at

About BNSF Railway
BNSF Railway is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies. BNSF operates approximately 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. BNSF’s shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced, and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve. You can learn more about BNSF at

About Cleveland-Cliffs
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. Founded in 1847 as a mine operator, Cliffs also is the largest manufacturer of iron ore pellets in North America. The Company is vertically integrated from mined raw materials, direct reduced iron, and ferrous scrap to primary steelmaking and downstream finishing, stamping, tooling, and tubing. We are the largest supplier of steel to the automotive industry in North America and serve a diverse range of other markets due to our comprehensive offering of flat-rolled steel products. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland-Cliffs employs approximately 27,000 people across its operations in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit

About Crown Family Philanthropies
Rooted in the legacy of Arie and Ida Crown, as well as the Jewish tradition of tikun olam—or repairing the world—Crown Family Philanthropies (CFP) is driven by more than 70 years of family commitment to social impact. Crown Family Philanthropies’ Great Lakes grantmaking supports efforts to address water quality, habitat conservation, and basin-wide policy to ensure that the Great Lakes are protected and restored for the use and enjoyment of people and wildlife for generations to come. Learn more at

About The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
Established in 1952, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. In the Chicago region, the Foundation focuses its land conservation program on innovative and inclusive natural and working lands protection and stewardship with an increased emphasis on integrating climate resiliency strategies and approaches; utilizing advocacy to advance land conservation programs and policies; and providing benefits to both natural and diverse human communities. See more about the Foundation at

About The Hunter Family Foundation
HFF provides grants and leadership to improve lives in a long-term and sustainable way by supporting education, healthcare, economic development, and the environment in communities where Hunter family members live. Our environmental granting focuses on advocating for policy and behavior changes to enhance land conservation and water protection efforts in the Great Lakes region, as well as hyper-local work to ensure community members can access natural areas.

About The Joyce Foundation
The Joyce Foundation is a Chicago-based, nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region in the areas of Culture, Democracy, Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, and Journalism. Learn more at

About the Walder Foundation
The Walder Foundation was established by Joseph and Elizabeth Walder to address critical issues impacting our world. The Foundation’s five areas of focus—science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life—are an extension of the Walders’ lifelong passions, interests, and their personal and professional experiences. Learn more at

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads the nation’s environmental science, research, education, and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. For more information, visit

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

About the U.S. Forest Service
Established in 1905, the Forest Service’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains one of the largest forestry research organizations in the world. Public lands managed by the Forest Service provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply and contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. The agency also supports sustainable management on about 500 million acres of private, state and tribal forests including forests in urban areas. For more information, visit



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