Since 2012, the Foundation has granted more than $1.1 million in support of programs that ease youth and family access to the wonders of the Forest Preserves and to innovative educational programming.  These experiences improve the health of the community and the Preserves themselves.​​

Priority Program-Youth Conservation Corps

Youth who have meaningful connections to the natural world, especially under the guidance of role models, form strong connections to nature and feel empowered to make a difference as stewards of their environment.  They also gain the many benefits of actively playing, exploring and/or working outside

​The Forest Preserve Foundation raises funds in order to support meaningful experiences in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, especially for youth who rarely have the chance to safely play and learn outdoors.

Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps program

Forest Preserve Foundation priority programs include:

  • Conservation Corps
  • Public Art
  • Nature Play
  • Memorial Gifts
  • Bird the Preserves

2018 Grants

In the spring 2018, the Forest Preserve Foundation awared three grants totaling $152,500 to support Forest Preserves of Cook County initiatives.

Forest Preserve Experience Program —$75,000 to support the Forest Preserve Experience Program, the Conservation Corps partnership between the Forest Preserves and the Cook County Housing Authority.

Student Conservation Association (SCA) — $50,000 to directly support a 2018 Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps crew at a Forest Preserves of Cook County site.

Developing the Next Generation of Outdoor Leaders: Curriculum and Training in Public Engagement—$27,500 to the Forest Preserves to support teen leaders for nature-based programming in the Preserves.


Partnering with Preserves

In 2016, The Forest Preserve Foundation supported the Student Conservation Association's Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps Program with a $50,000 grant. This program runs in partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Friends of the Forest Preserves.

Youth Conservation Corps

Conservation Corps programs accomplish habitat restoration goals while providing teens with employment experience, science education, and a self-esteem enriching experience.

The Foundation has approved over $112,000 in grants to support various conservation corps programs based on their high-quality programming that deeply impacts the lives of youth and the health of the preserves.


Public Art

Models of student-designed art pieces.


Priority Program: Making camping in the Preserves accessible and meaningful for all

A $70,000 grant from the Foundation and CSX is funding a public art project that will be installed this summer at the Forest Preserve General Headquarters, Thatcher Woods Pavilion and Trailside Museum, all in River Forest.

A dozen Oak Park River Forest High School art students designed the sculptures that are being constructed from materials taken largely from nature.

The art pieces are meant to celebrate the role the Forest Preserves plays in the local community. Specifications outlined by the Preserves’ Conservation and Experiential Programming Department call for the art pieces to be semi-permanent and constructed of  materials that will naturally decay over time and become part of the landscape.

Read more about the public art grant and project here.

2016 Grants

Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps — Student Conservation Association  ($50,000)
Forest Preserve Leadership Corps — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($47,655)
Developing Nature Play Elements at Dan Ryan Woods — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($46,295)
Youth Public Art Program — Forest Preserve District, Conservation and Experiential Programming ($40,000)
Bird the Preserves — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($25,000)
Family Camperships — Forest Preserve District of Cook County  ($25,000) (Second installment of 2015 grant)
Palos Trail System Signage Grant (via REI) — Forest Preserve District of Cook County

2016 Grants

Memorial Tree & Bench Dedication — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($4,691)
Preserving Shoe Factory Farm — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($4,500)
Restoration of Paw Paw Woods in Palos Reserves —  Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($4,500)
Volunteer Recognition Program — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($1,859)
Documentary Screening — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($1,000)
I Love My Preserves — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($626)
Forest Preserves Camp Gear Library — Forest Preserve District of Cook County ($450)
Forest Preserve Experience — Forest Preserve District of Cook County
In-kind support — data compilation and analysis

Interested in getting involved?

Email Shelley A. Davis, President, to discuss ways you can get involved in helping preserve, protect and educate others about all the Forest Preserve of Cook County has to offer.

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