Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant Program

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

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Grant amount: Up to US $1,000

Next anticipated deadline: Oct 31, 2020 (Pre proposal)

Later anticipated deadlines: Nov 30, 2020 (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Teacher

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Illinois

Location of residency: Illinois

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Note: Preliminary Application: If you would like for your application to be reviewed for common errors that regularly cause disqualification, you must mail your application package no later than the 'pre-proposal' deadline.  You will be notified by email of any of these common errors and given until  the 'full proposal' deadline to submit revisions. If you do not submit the revisions by the final deadline, your application will be disqualified. No one is required to submit their application for the preliminary review. This procedure is entirely voluntary. 

Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant

  • Involve your students in hands-on natural resources stewardship.

Purpose and Eligible Projects

Projects must emphasize student/youth involvement with planning, development and maintenance and increase the educational and wildlife habitat values of the site. The applicant must be prepared to maintain and commit resources to the project for at least five years. The project must be implemented on school grounds or another public place (for example, a park or nature center/forest preserve district land).

Plans that include vegetation should use native species. Lists of Illinois native plants can be found here. 

Funds are provided on a reimbursement basis.

Option One: Standard Pollinator Garden

The Standard Pollinator Garden Option provides the applicant with a pre-selected list of native plant species to include in a pollinator garden. Only these plant species may be purchased with funding through this option. Other items eligible for purchase through this option are mulch, topsoil or related soil product and lumber/hardware for raised planting beds, if applicable.

The applicant is responsible for completing all aspects of the application form, including the Budget for the Standard Pollinator Garden Option, and is subject to all other conditions and requirements stated in the application form.

The native plant species selected for this garden are suitable for growing conditions throughout Illinois and are good providers of nectar and pollen for native pollinators. They should be planted in a location that receives full sunshine for more than half of each day’s period of daylight. These are not plants to be grown in shady conditions. If you plant all of the species in the list, you should have some plants in bloom from May through at least October. 

Plants should be purchased as plugs or seedlings grown in containers. Do not request seeds to grow the plants for this option. If you want to use seeds in your project, select Option Two. The larger the plant that you purchase, the sooner it will be likely to bloom. Some of these plants may not bloom until their second or third year of growth.

 Option Two

Habitat projects may include, but not be limited to, the following activities:

  • enhance or establish and maintain a schoolyard prairie plot, butterfly garden, rain garden, wetland, native tree arboretum, nesting platform or watering station;
  • design and build a bird feeder or feeding station; or
  • construct and install bat roosting boxes.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Action Grant applicants must use native Illinois plants in their wildlife habitat area.
  • Teachers, nature center personnel and youth group leaders (grades prekindergarten through 12) in Illinois may apply.
  • Successful applicants are eligible to apply for additional funding in subsequent years.
  • The funds may only be used to develop or enhance wildlife habitat and not to plant a vegetable garden.
    • Native plants must be used. They are the best providers of native wildlife habitat and are adapted to the climate so they require the least care.
  • Eligible Costs:
    • Funding requests for Option One grants may only include the following items:
      • plants (not seeds) of the 14 native plant species shown in this application form;
      • mulch, topsoil or related soil product; and
      • lumber/hardware for raised planting beds, if applicable.
      • No other items will be considered for purchase through this option.
    • Funding requests for Option Two should focus on items necessary for enhancement or development of wildlife habitat, such as native plants, seeds, mulch and lumber/hardware for constructing nesting/roosting boxes and platforms. 
  • Use of Chemicals:
    • According to the Illinois Pesticide Act, a pesticide license is required of anyone applying pesticides in a public space (minimum age to receive a license is 16 years).


  • Illinois Conservation Foundation sites and Illinois Department of Natural Resources sites do not qualify for funding.
  • Admission fees cannot be charged to obtain access to the site. 
  • Items purchased prior to the notification of the grant award winners from this Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant application deadline do not qualify for funding.
  • Purchases occurring before the notification of the grant award winners for this application period do not qualify for funding.
  • Reimbursements are not made to individuals.
  • Ineligible Costs for Option Two:
    • Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following items:
      • consultant fees,
      • bird seed,
      • bird baths,
      • fuel,
      • equipment,
      • tools,
      • equipment rental,
      • signs,
      • labor,
      • books,
      • Web site development,
      • land acquisition,
      • chemicals (fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, insecticides),
      • certification fees, or
      • decorative items.
    • Vegetable gardens are not eligible for this grant.