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Thriving Communities webinars offered for grant navigation, strategic planning

Thriving Communities text treatment

URBANA, Ill. — Sustainable development in Illinois encounters challenges in balancing resource demand with responsible management. Transitioning to sustainable infrastructure involves substantial investment and planning, including upgrading existing structures for energy efficiency and developing new systems. Addressing these challenges requires collaboration among governments, businesses, communities, and individuals committed to a more sustainable future.

As an integral element of our commitment to bolster technical assistance and education for communities, University of Illinois Extension offers the Thriving Communities webinar series. This series seeks to empower communities by guiding them through federal grant application systems related to energy and the environment, offering insights on community inclusion, and facilitating community-specific strategic planning. The primary objective of this outreach is to assist communities in proficiently acquiring and managing funds to tackle legacy pollution issues and facilitate investments in cutting-edge clean energy technologies.

“Federal and state funding for the energy transition and environmental improvements is at an unprecedented level thanks to recent legislation. But applying for and managing grants can be challenging, especially for small communities,” says Lisa Merrifield, community development specialist at Illinois Extension. “Through this webinar series and future community-level technical assistance, we hope to break down some of the barriers so that Illinois communities can fully benefit from these and upcoming programs.”

Prairie Rivers Network, organization that works to protect water, heal land, and inspire change, is pleased to partner with University of Illinois Extension to bring information and resources to the communities that need them most, such as rural, coal and environmental justice communities. "Thanks to state and federal legislation, communities, and organizations have access to programs and funding to tackle the challenges and harness the opportunity of the clean energy transition. This includes cleaning up pollution, preparing for a changing climate, creating new jobs, and adopting clean energy," says Amanda Pankau, director of energy and community resiliency at Prairie Rivers Network.

Event details:

All sessions are presented from Noon to 1 p.m., and topics include:

- Technical Assistance and Funding Opportunities for Thriving Communities on Jan. 30.
Through this webinar, panelists will provide an overview of open opportunities and share resources to help communities plan and apply for these grant funds.

- Community Change Grants on Feb. 20.
This session will provide information on program requirements, eligibility, application details, and available resources for the current funding opportunity.


Participation is free, but registration is required at For more information or if you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, contact Nancy Ouedraogo at

This series is made possible by Extension and the Great Lakes Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center, with funding from USEPA and DOE.

To learn more about past webinars of Thriving Communities (Sustainable Communities) programs, please visit

SOURCE: Lisa Merrifield, community development specialist, Illinois Extension.

WRITER: Herbert Chavez, media communications coordinator, Illinois Extension.

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.