PV for Nature/Welcome Centers

Grants are available to install photovoltaic (PV) systems at existing nature/welcome centers owned by park districts, forest preserves, and other 501 (c)(3) non-profit organizations preserving natural areas in Illinois. The PV systems will allow nature/welcome centers to:

  • offset electricity purchased from the grid
  • lower electric utility costs
  • decrease their carbon footprint
  • demonstrate that solar photovoltaic panels work in Illinois
  • educate the public about sustainability and renewable energy


  • 501(c)(3) charitable organizations whose mission is to preserve natural areas in Illinois
  • Local units of government


  • PV systems must be sized to meet no more than the facility’s annual electricity needs
  • Feature strong education and outreach component that includes highly visible permanent signage


  • Located in Illinois
  • Must not have started construction
  • Train current and future facilities staff to operate and maintain the PV system
  • Must retire any environmental attributes (i.e. renewable energy credits, emission offsets, etc.) associated with the project
  • The Foundation favors projects at facilities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving their energy efficiency

Funding Guidelines

Eligible applicants can receive up to $1.50/Watt for the PV System (or 60% of the PV system cost, whichever is less) as well as $1,000 towards highly visible, permanent educational signage. Payment is made upon successful completion of the project.

The grant award process is competitive. Some applicants will receive funding at the requested level, others at lesser amounts than originally requested, and some may be declined altogether.


  • February 23, 2023 – CLOSED
  • August 24, 2023 – CLOSED

Application Process

Complete the online application, the required attachments, and submit. Clarity, thoroughness, and accuracy of the application will be considered.

Required Attachments

  • Please download, complete, and save the Solar Thermal, Other Renewables, and PV for Nature/Welcome Centers Application Form
  • Please download, complete, and save the Standard Line Item Budget Form
  • Estimate/Bid with costs, equipment specifications, and warranty information
  • Copies of the most recent 12 months of electric utility bills
  • Current Year Summary Budget
  • Financial Statements for the most recent fiscal year, including a Statement of Financial Position and Statement of Activities. Include any notes on the financial statements.
  • IDNR EcoCat Information Request Form if installing Ground-Mounted Solar Systems
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documentation confirming your Employer Identification Number (EIN), usually a 147c letter.

A confirmation e-mail is sent after the application is received. The Foundation may follow up with additional questions for applicants.

Award Process

The Foundation’s PV for Nature/Welcome Centers Program review process can take three months or longer. The grant award process is competitive.  Some projects may be awarded at lower levels than requested; others may be declined altogether.