2021 RISE Challenge IL Winners

1st Place Winner ($1000): Francis de Sales High School – Flooding in the East Side of Chicago

The East Side suffers from regular storm event flooding. Climate change predicts that this issue will become worse rather than better. Disconnecting downspouts from the storm sewers can help mitigate flooding caused by storm sewers backing up. By educating our local residents, we can help change the pattern of continual flooding by encouraging people to disconnect their downspouts.

2nd Place Winner ($800): Urbana High School - Solidarity Gardens Project

Working with one of the main community gardens, Solidarity Gardens, in the Champaign-Urbana area, this project hopes to help increase community garden productivity and impact by building a shed for the property. Food insecurity during natural disasters is a major issue, not only for community members, but for students at Urbana High School. Increasing productivity at local community gardens is one way to combat food insecurity and help to ensure fresh grown food is stored and distributed effectively. 

3rd Place Winner ($600): Shiloh Class of 2026 – Rain Garden

A section of the school grounds, an educational prairie area, is unusable due to regular flooding from parking lot runoff. In order to reclaim this area, we plan to create a rain garden at the south end of our existing prairie. The rain garden will include native IL plants that can grow in these conditions. The plants will help absorb the additional water, provide food and shelter for pollinators and bloom from spring to fall creating a beautiful area on our school grounds.

4th Place ($400): Cumberland High School Period 3 Biology – Absorb It!

Back in 1950, a 3-acre plot of land was donated to the Cumberland School District due to its poor quality as farmland. The school has used this land as an outdoor educational area. However today it is revamped to be a major hub for the agricultural department at Cumberland High School. Because of this revamp, all the natural grasses, trees, and other plants were cleared out and now the area is prone to flooding from poor drainage. We propose to construct a butterfly garden that will include native Illinois plants to help absorb excess water that drains into the area. Since the area is being reconstructed, we will situate the garden in an area that will be in direct line of future water drainage. This will not only help absorb the water from the area, but also absorb some of the excess that drains from the area to prevent flooding in nearby fields.

5th Place ($200): Cumberland High School Period 2 Biology – Stock Up!

Food security is an issue with almost half of our area’s population and that increases in times of natural hazards and isolation. Our area of focus is Cumberland High School which services the families of Cumberland County. Cumberland High School houses almost 300 students and shows a 36% rate in economic deficiency. This means that almost half of our Cumberland High School students could be drastically affected by a natural hazard that would isolate them with no access to food. We propose to tackle this issue by increasing awareness of food insecurity, particularly during natural disasters and teaching ways to prepare for times of isolation due to a pandemic, storms, or destruction from tornadoes. Students will build a stockpile/pantry of food for distribution by running a food collection drive.

BIG Thanks to Our RISE IL Summit Judges
Adam Blumstein
Staff Civil Engineer; Burns and McDonnell
Mary Ellen Daneels
Civics Instructional Specialist; IL Civics Hub at the DuPage Regional Office of Education
Marvin Warner
EEAI Board Member; Retired IL Superintendent
Sarah Halle
Mitigation Champion; FEMA Region 5
Christine Meissner
Community Planning and Development Representative; US Department of Housing and Urban Development

RISE Challenge IL Summit - Awards Ceremony

Big thanks to our RISE Illinois partner, the Environmental Education Association of Illinois