Chicago Westside Branch

Join the Branch

For two years (2021 and 2022), I, Ryan O’Donnell (aka the Vegan Politico), have served as the chairperson of the Environmental and Climate Justice Committee of the Chicago Westside Branch of the NAACP. Learn more about the branch from the new official branch website. Please get involved. One of my main goals has been to empower Black people of all ages to break free of traditional roles and prepare marginalized groups for advocacy and economic opportunities in environmentalism and technology, including solar, water conservation and desalinization, and ethical food production. I have done all I can to pass the torch. I hope to see all that I worked for continue in the branch as I continue that work outside of it.

You can still tweet me if you are interested in partnering, and I encourage you to get involved with For All Of Us. We are tackling environmental issues locally and globally with a focus on equity. If you are interested in working together directly, FAOU Strategies (my company) advises and facilitates political and movement strategy with a keen focus on equity and intersectional justice, so feel free to reach out to educate and empower your business, organization, or campaign with our services.

Lastly, you can still take advantage of the resources on this page and subscribe to the branch’s ECJ Committee emails (subscribe without a Google account).

Air Quality and Electric Vehicles


We have moved to Teams for our day-to-day communications:

Reports and other documents (restricted access):

Community Resources

Black Vegans of Chicago Facebook Group


Chicago has the most lead service lines in the country, and the answer is not drinking bottled water. If you live in a house or two-flat built before 1986, there is a high likelihood that your water service line is made of lead unless it was replaced during renovation or an addition.

Water filters alone are not enough. We need systemic change. However, LifeStraw filters have provided clean water and saved lives around the world from various contaminants. I am proud to have partnered with them. These filters are a great way to protect your loved ones and support getting clean water to the most vulnerable around the world.

Beginning in January, an Illinois law, for which I advocated on behalf of the branch, will force the city to, “replace lead service pipes every time there is a break or leak in a water line. That will force the city to replace what’s estimated will be at least 4,000 lead lines a year, perhaps 5,000,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Service lines are the pipes that transport water from the water main in the street into homes. The City of Chicago is offering two voluntary lead service line replacement programs.

The Equity Lead Service Line Replacement (E-LSLR) Program is a new program that provides a new copper water service line to income qualifying, owner-occupied residential building of one to two (1-2) units. The number of replacements is limited by funding availability.

A residential homeowner can hire and pay a contractor and remove the existing lead service line and use the Homeowner-Initiated Program to waive the permit fees for the project. This could amount to a savings of up to $3,100. Additionally, the City will attach the new service line to the water main and provide a free water meter for the contractor to install, if there isn’t already one in place.

Playlist: Chicago Westside Branch NAACP

Low-Income Assistance from the State

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LIHEAP helps eligible households with low income pay for home energy services. This includes assistance with heating, gas, propane and electricity. More information on services available in your region can be found by visiting your Local Administering Agency (referred to as a local agency) page.
Deadline: The LIHEAP application period is September 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023, or until funding is exhausted.  Last day to apply online with the Request for Services form is May 5.  After this date you can still apply through your local administering agency through May 31, 2023.

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CSBG offers Illinoisans an opportunity to receive support for an array of essential services including rent assistance, food, temporary shelter, medicine and more. Check your local Community Action Agency (referred to as a local agency) page for a list of available services near you.
Deadline: CSBG remains open all year with expanded income eligibility guidelines in effect as of February 2020.

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The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) helps households that are facing the threat of imminent disconnection, have already been disconnected or have past due (arrearage) balances over $50 for their water and wastewater services combined. Customers who received a benefit prior to July 1, 2022, can apply again before August 31, 2023. Customers are now eligible for a rate reduction benefit if they do not owe a balance for water and sewer.

Learn more and apply for these programs at Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity or at CEDA

Entrepreneurs & Businesses

Public Act 102-662, the Energy Transition Act (known as the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act or CEJA colloquially), is comprehensive energy legislation drafted in conjunction with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and passed in Illinois in September 2021 to incentivize renewable energy development, expand electric vehicle adoption, and transition away from using toxic fossil fuels. Its effects reach across several departments and agencies in the state.

The Illinois Department of Labor must administer assistance to small contractors on compliance with the Prevailing Wage Act (820 ILCS 130).

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is responsible for many of CEJA’s programs including the workforce hubs, which are not yet available. Stay up to date with DCEO’s progress in implementing CEJA. For now (hurry), you can make your voice heard for several programs.

The Illinois Power Agency oversees the Adjustable Block Program. With the passage of CEJA, a new distinction for Approved Vendors was formed under the Adjustable Block Program called Equity Eligible Contractors (EECs). This new type of Approved Vendor receives the same REC price as other project applications submitted to the program but are offered a distinct block of capacity that is reserved for those that qualify as EECs.

Approved Vendors that would like to submit projects into the Equity Eligible Contractor (EEC) category must first apply to become EEC certified. They may do so in conjunction with their Approved Vendor application or at any time after submitting their initial Approved Vendor application.

How to Qualify as an EEC

EEC certification occurs at the ownership/partner/proprietor level of a company (or board level in the case of non-profit organizations). This means that one or more owners of a company must qualify as an EEC under one of the qualifications listed below.

There are several ways to qualify as an EEC:

  1. Persons who graduated from or are current or former participants in the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program, the Clean Energy Contractor Incubator Program, the Illinois Climate Works Preapprenticeship Program, Returning Residents Clean Jobs Training Program, or the Clean Energy Primes Contractor Accelerator Program, and the solar training pipeline and multi-cultural jobs program created in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(3) of Section 16-108.21 of the Public Utilities Act;
  2. Persons who are graduates of or currently enrolled in the foster care system;
  3. Persons who were formerly incarcerated; or
  4. Persons whose primary residence is in an equity investment eligible community (R3 Areas as established pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act and Environmental Justice Communities as established through Illinois Solar for All Program).