Climate and Sustainability Funding Opportunities

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Cities and counties working on sustainability and climate action often cannot find the resources to implement great projects. ICLEI members, including Austin, Baltimore, Blacksburg, Chula Vista, Cleveland, Dubuque, Madison, Missoula, and New Orleans, have found a useful source of funding in Partners for Places.

Partners for Places is a successful matching grant program that improves U.S. and Canadian communities by building partnerships between local government sustainability leaders and place-based foundations. National funders invest in local projects developed through these partnerships to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being for all residents.

Partners for Places is a partnership of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN).  The Funders’ Network and USDN believe that sustainability directors are natural allies for community-based foundations. By combining forces they can become powerful allies to promote more prosperous, livable, and vibrant places.

In the first three years, Partners for Places has funded more than 50 partnership projects, including many projects of ICLEI members. The next semi-annual Partners for Places RFP will launch around December 4, 2015. It is not too soon to reach out to local foundations to build relationships or explore common interests with foundations with which ICLEI members have relationships.

In the most recent Partners for Places grant round, Austin received a two-year grant to launch the Austin 2030 District, a voluntary initiative to reduce energy and water consumption and carbon emissions from Austin Buildings. Missoula received a grant to prepare the community to thrive amid increasing summer wildfire smoke and heat. New Orleans received a grant to create a GIS tool to collect environmental, social, and health outcome data to better inform the City and developers on how, where, and when to incorporate “green” infrastructure to increase equitable sustainability and livability.

For more information on Partners for Places, please visit

To learn about past applicants and grantees the Funders’ Network has created an “idea bank” providing summaries of all project applications. Please visit


More Information about Partners for Places

Purpose: Creating vibrant communities is a group effort. Place-based foundations offer unique knowledge of their communities and the ability to provide seed money for important projects. Local government offers the power to move projects through planning and development. Working together results in sustainability programs that save money, improve the environment, increase efficiency, and promote the well-being of all residents.

Dollars Available; Size of Awards; Term: Grants have been between $25,000 and $75,000, with a 1:1 match required by one or more local, place-based foundations.  Grants can be for one or two years.

Documenting the Matching Requirement: At the time that an application is submitted, Partners for Places needs to know that a sustainability director and a funder partner(s) have worked together to develop the proposal and that the funder is intending to support this project financially, subject to board review and approval.

Selection Process: A selection committee of foundation officers and local government urban sustainability directors awards the matching grants for sustainability projects, and the Funders’ Network administers the grant program. The selection committee also oversees the development of program guidelines and evaluation of the program.

Project Eligibility 

Eligible Partnership Projects:

Successful proposals are for projects that the local government sustainability office and local, place-based funder(s) consider important to the community. The project must advance a key aspect of at least one of the following:

  • A community-focused sustainability, climate action, or comprehensive plan provision that specifically addresses sustainability
  • Any plan endorsed by the mayor or city manager that states the goal of balancing economic development, environmental quality, and equity
  • An area identified for performance improvement or implementation for Certified STAR Communities

Eligible Applicants:

The proposal must be submitted by a team of at least two partners who are: (1) the sustainability director of a city (municipality) or a county and (2) the local, place-based foundation(s). A sustainability director may include any person who leads a multi-department and community-wide urban sustainability initiative from within a city (municipality) or a county government (“sustainability director”) in the United States or Canada. A local, place-based foundation may include a community foundation or a private or corporate foundation that focuses on a greater metropolitan area.

For more information, please contact Julia Parzen –


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