Press Release, 5-24-12

Local planning across metropolitan Chicago gets a boost from Ideas Exchange event, grants, and community-based projects

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and The Chicago Community Trust team up to support communities' efforts to help implement the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, May 24, 2012 -- To help implement the region's innovative GO TO 2040 comprehensive plan, communities across the seven counties of metropolitan Chicago are getting staff assistance and funding from the region's official planning agency and the leading community foundation.  The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) today convened nearly 200 local planners, elected officials, stakeholder groups, and other residents at an Ideas Exchange event, where The Chicago Community Trust announced significant planning grants to five community-based projects. 

Ideas Exchange attendees gathered in the Loop to hear about planning successes of CMAP's Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, which has begun its second year with a region-wide call for community projects.   The event program featured sessions on how communities can tap into planning staff and grants to address issues at the intersection of transportation, land use, and housing, including the natural environment, economic growth, and community development.  It also included opportunities for interested communities to network with other technical assistance providers, including federal agencies, regional transportation agencies, nonprofit groups, and others.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program, CMAP is already working with 70 local governments, nonprofits, and intergovernmental organizations. More will be added after the August 1 deadline for new project proposals, which may be submitted by municipalities, counties, multijurisdictional groups, or nongovernmental organizations (in partnership with local government).  CMAP is collaborating with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to align its technical assistance with similar grants available through the RTA.

"CMAP is working closely with our many partners -- especially municipalities and non-profit organizations -- to facilitate implementation of GO TO 2040 at the community level," said Randy Blankenhorn, CMAP executive director.  "Prior to the HUD grant, a lack of resources for local planning had kept many communities from taking control over the factors that shape livability.  By providing staff assistance and strategic grants, CMAP is able to help local governments leverage support by a broad range of groups that are eager to assist in the planning of their communities and region."

The Chicago Community Trust, a close CMAP partner throughout the development and implementation of GO TO 2040, chose the Ideas Exchange event to announce funding for five significant projects, each of which has strong connections to GO TO 2040 and the LTA program.  Read more in a related fact sheet about these grant recipients:

  • The Active Transportation Alliance "Communities for Complete Streets" partnership with Blue Island, Des Plaines, Forest Park, Hoffman Estates, and Riverdale, whose  long-range transportation plans will safely and seamlessly accommodate all users, including bicycles, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
  • The Developing Communities Project "2012-13 Red Line Extension Campaign," which will prepare a transit-oriented master plan for economic development in support of a GO TO 2040 major capital project to extend the CTA Red Line south to 130th Street.
  • The Seven Generations Ahead organization's project to implement high-priority measures -- including water conservation, energy efficiency, solid waste reduction, and green business development -- of "PlanItGreen," the official long-range environmental sustainability plan for Oak Park and River Forest.
  • The Renaissance Collaborative "Bronzeville Retail Initiative" to coordinate economic development with innovative land use planning, strengthening an ongoing effort to restore the vibrancy of three commercial corridors: 43rd, 47th, and 51st streets.
  • The Village of Park Forest "Growing Green " implementation project, which will institute education and outreach activities for the village's official long-range sustainability plan.

"Our organization is pleased to support communities' work on building a sustainable future, consistent with the GOTO 2040 plan," said Ngoan Le, Vice President of Program for The Chicago Community Trust.  "We look forward to the success of these community-based projects as models for other communities in our region."

The LTA program's objective is to create a series of innovative, replicable projects in the Chicago region that support livability principles and build planning capacity in local communities.  The first call for projects in 2011 prompted over 220 proposals from more than 130 municipalities, counties, interjurisdictional groups, and nongovernmental organizations.   In its first year, the program initiated over 50 projects, including:

CMAP is also providing grants to fund a downtown plan in Algonquin, active transportation plans in Wheeling and Downers Grove, a comprehensive plan in Elburn, and many others.

Because of the central role communities play in shaping our region's future, the GO TO 2040 comprehensive plan calls for CMAP and other groups to support local planning projects.  For this purpose, in October 2010 HUD awarded a three-year, $4.25 million that enabled CMAP to create the LTA program. 


About CMAP.  The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the official regional planning organization for the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will.  To address anticipated population growth of more than 2 million new residents, CMAP developed and now guides the implementation of GO TO 2040, metropolitan Chicago's first comprehensive regional plan in more than 100 years.  This innovative, policy-based plan that establishes coordinated strategies that help the region's 284 communities address transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues.  See for more information.

About The Chicago Community Trust.  For 97 years, The Chicago Community Trust, our region's community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2011, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $130 million to nonprofit organizations. From strengthening schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance our region. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at

Press Contacts:  Tom Garritano (312-386-8609 or and Eva Penar (312-616-8000 x 161 or