The Village of Grant Park is one of 26 public agencies from throughout northern Illinois to receive a Green Region grant from ComEd and Openlands, according to a news release. As part of the annual ComEd Green Region Program, the village will receive a grant of $6,800 to support an open space project in the community. Specifically, the funding will be used to expand butterfly and pollinator garden areas and introduce informational signs about pollinators and a seating bench area to the butterfly garden. It will also provide classes (pre-K to 3rd grade) on pollinators and gardens, as well as jobs for teens to care for planted areas and their pollinator inhabitants.

Debbie Morgan, president of the Grant Park Foundation, stated “We had a busy summer. The Green Region Grant has enabled the foundation to broaden the impact of Heldt Park. The “G Park Rangers” Program has two excellent participants, Christian Curtis and Delaney Malkowski who assisted with the weeding, watering, and caring for Heldt Park. This program is designed to create a cadre of young people who know what needs to be done in our parks and public spaces. Our second program “Beat the Blahs” was well attended and provided some interesting opportunities to have a summer learning experience disguised as fun. Kids and parents were entertained and even I learned a lot about ladybugs, composting and raised bed gardening!”

“We were able to add about 60 new plants, several flowering trees and 2 new stations as well. The park itself has inspired many residents to contribute money, materials and help. That is the real wonder of this endeavor”

Next on the project list is the planting of 4 pollinator trees in Legion Park to replace the ash trees that died over the last few years. Morgan remarked that the ability to expand the pollinators in the parks program throughout the village parks is the ultimate goal. “We are a farming community. We are trying to assist in educating the residents of all ages of the need to protect our butterflies, bees and other critters that assist with pollinating our crops, and if it makes the parks more inviting, well, that’s a bonus!”

This marks the sixth year that ComEd is partnering with Openlands, one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation, for the Green Region Program. Due to tremendous interest in pollinator conservation during the 2017 grant cycle, the 2018 ComEd Green Region Program again featured a special focus on projects that help pollinators like butterflies and bees. Illinois is home to thousands of native pollinator species, which provide critical support to our region’s flowering and food plant populations. Since the program’s inception, ComEd has awarded a total of more than $1,125,000 to communities in northern Illinois for environmental projects.

“ComEd is committed to powering a cleaner and brighter future for our customers and communities. By advancing green initiatives through the Green Region Program, we help enable grant recipients to transform their local communities,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd. “Our partnership with Openlands these past six years helps both the environment and helps our customers to enjoy their communities even more.”

ComEd and Openlands share a commitement to supporting communities across the region.

“At Openlands, our mission is to connect the residents of the Chicagoland and northern Illinois region to the nature and resources close to home,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “ComEd’s continued support through the Green Region Program has brought this vision to life, allowing recipients to invest in open space projects that bring joy to citizens where they live, work, and play.”

Earlier this year, municipalities throughout northern Illinois submitted their Green Region grant applications, and an advisory committee composed of county government officials and members of the region’s conservation community reviewed the applications.

Additional information on the ComEd Green Region Program can be found at www.openlands.org/greenregion.