Call for Applications! Funding more than 25 new environmental projects in communities across Chicago

Today, ChangeX is launching the Chicago Sustainability Challenge, a $70,000 fund for local community groups, schools, and organizations who want to bring environmentally sustainable solutions to Chicago. This fund is sponsored by the Microsoft Datacenter Community Development team.

This is our second Sustainability Challenge, after launching a fund in Arizona three weeks ago, where we received 64 applications within the first 2 weeks and the first teams have already completed their initial 30 Day Challenge. 

People who join the Chicago Sustainability Challenge can choose from 12 existing and proven ideas around the sustainability themes of: biodiversity, water, food, transport and waste. Each applicant will have 30 days to build their team and come up with an action plan, to be eligible for seed funding. The grants range between $500 and $5,000, depending on the idea.

Amongst the ideas are long-time idea partners of ChangeX like the food sharing program Community Fridge or The Last Plastic Straw, as well as new Chicago-born ideas like Tree Planters and Building School Gardens – both projects led locally by Openlands.

Another idea that joined ChangeX for this challenge is Chicago River Cleanup by the Friends of the Chicago River. In their on-the-ground public awareness campaign, they lead cleanups and share their Litter Free Chicago River Toolkit so that anyone can start cleanups on their own with their friends, family, community, or workplace. 

“This was a relatively quick cleanup and we still made a visible impact in our environment and the team really rallied around the cause.”, says Molly George, a previous Chicago River Cleanup organizer. “I think we are totally prepared for another cleanup now that Friends of the Chicago River has set us up with the resources and plan to take care of our piece of the Chicago River.”

Molly’s sentiment above demonstrates very clearly the idea behind ChangeX and the Chicago Sustainability Challenge. Let’s make it easy for folks to have a positive impact on their environment by providing that little bit of support, knowledge, and seed funding needed to get started.

The ChangeX tech platform is making the process frictionless for starters and funding partners who want to see the impact of their investment in a community. At the same time, we understand the importance of personal connection, encouragement and support to successfully run with these ideas. For that reason, everyone who joins the Challenge has a phone call with a member of the ChangeX team and they receive a starter pack in the mail.

“Microsoft is constantly exploring innovative partners that can help scale and deepen our community impact. ChangeX is indeed one of those innovative partners, and we are excited to start a pilot project with ChangeX to bring impactful projects to Chicago over the next year,” says Holly Beale, Program Manager for Datacenter Community Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft.

The challenge is open to everyone in Chicago starting June 5, 2019, and the seed funding will be allocated to applicants who join the challenge on a first come, first served basis. 

To join the challenge and see all criteria for applicants visit


The header Photo shows Tree Planters by openlands.

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