A Message from CNT Leadership

Dear CNT Friends,

2019 was a big year for CNT. We thank you for helping to make it possible through your friendship and support over many years.

We celebrated 40 years of impact. CNT has been at the forefront of urban sustainability since our founding in 1978. From helping community groups to save the CTA Green Line on Chicago’s west side, to pioneering energy efficiency improvements, to launching Chicago’s first carsharing program, CNT’s influence is clear. In September, we celebrated these achievements with friends past and present at our 40th Anniversary event.

We said goodbye to our co-founder, Scott Bernstein. Scott’s influence in making cities more equitable and sustainable is undeniable. Through his innovative ideas for improving water, energy, transportation, and other urban systems, Scott truly helped to change the ways cities function today.

We recommitted to our mission to make cities more equitable and sustainable. CNT’s mission is more important than ever in the face of growing challenges: climate change, which is finally being recognized as an existential threat; racial and economic inequality, with stagnating incomes exacerbated by increased cost of living and a growing shortage of affordable housing; and technology change, which provides new opportunities but also has potential to widen disparities. In this challenging context, we believe that we can make an impact with our special blend of analytics, community engagement, and innovative solutions.

Our work in 2019 showed the ways in which we advance our mission. In the past year, CNT:

  • Examined rideshare trips in cities nationwide, finding disparities in access based on race and income. In Chicago, we advocated successfully for an equity-centered pricing policy for rideshare services.
  • Expanded the RainReady program, which helps homeowners avoid damaging and costly flooding with nature-based solutions; offered advice on similar programs to cities across the country; and demonstrated that urban flooding disproportionately impacts people of color.
  • Received prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation, Transportation Research Board, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation to support groundbreaking research on water, climate, and transportation.

This is why CNT has always mattered, and why we still do. Our mission is just as relevant now as when we were founded 40 years ago. We hope you join us in 2020 as our journey continues!

Robert Dean
Chief Executive Officer

Robert Henderson
Board Chair

Margaret O’Dell
Board Vice Chair


40th Anniversary

In September, CNT celebrated our 40th Anniversary with help from 250 of our closest friends. Our opening reception highlighted 40 years of CNT’s accomplishments and innovations. From early work launching energy efficiency programs, to tracking indicators to predict neighborhood change, to creating greener practices at dry cleaners, our ideas and projects have been influential in moving cities toward sustainability and equity. CNT’s influence on the nonprofit landscape in Chicago and nationally has also been enormous: several thriving nonprofits including Elevate Energy, the Shared Use Mobility Center, and Faith in Place had their roots at CNT.

Our wonderful panel: Chicago's Chief Equity Officer Candace Moore, Chief of Policy Dan Lurie, CNT’s Jacky Grimshaw, Chief Engagement Officer Juan Carlos Linares, CNT’s Bob Dean, and Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara
Our wonderful panel: Chicago's Chief Equity Officer Candace Moore, Chief of Policy Dan Lurie, CNT’s Jacky Grimshaw, Chief Engagement Officer Juan Carlos Linares, CNT’s Bob Dean, and Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara

The event looked forward to the next 40 years of impact. Our current work – on climate, water, transportation, and community development – echoes our past accomplishments, reshaped to address today’s challenges. The program was capped by a panel discussion with representatives of Mayor Lightfoot’s new administration, who discussed how the City will be advancing its equity and environmental priorities.

Thanks to our sponsors listed at the end of this document, without whose help the event would not have been possible. And thanks to all who could attend to show their support for CNT!

Farewell to Scott Bernstein

Scott Bernstein

CNT’s co-founder and long-time visionary leader, Scott Bernstein, stepped down from the organization in September. Scott has had tremendous influence in making cities more equitable and more sustainable. From his innovative ideas for handling water, energy, transportation, and other critical urban systems, to his collaboration with our research scientists in pioneering data analysis of underlying environmental and economic patterns in order to find sustainable solutions – in these and many other ways Scott has helped change the way cities function today, for all of us.

With fellow urban visionary Stan Hallett, Scott co-founded CNT in 1978 to advance environmental sustainability and social equity, a mission that the organization continues to this day. Under Scott’s leadership, CNT has influenced national policy debates and local initiatives through pioneering work in fields as diverse as energy efficiency, transit-oriented development, carsharing, climate protection, infrastructure alternatives, urban flooding and poverty reduction.

Scott Bernstein and Jacky Grimshaw

Our 40th Anniversary event celebrated Scott’s accomplishments and contributions to the field of urban sustainability. We collected videos from many of Scott’s partners over the years to pay tribute to his ideas and influence. A compiled video, along with Senator Durbin’s tribute to CNT and Scott, can be viewed below:

A video tribute to Scott

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)'s Remarks for CNT's 40th Anniversary

Accomplishments in 2019: Water and Climate

A RainReady rain garden in Oak Park.

RainReady Oak Park is a partnership between CNT and the Village of Oak Park to help residents install sustainable landscaping that reduces the burden on the local sewer, reduces the risk of drainage problems at homes, and provides community health and environmental benefits. Since the program launched in 2017, RainReady Oak Park has completed 36 rain gardens, 4 dry wells, and 56 depaving projects. The program has leveraged $3.25 private dollars for every grant dollar spent, and an estimated 724,000 gallons of rain has been diverted from the local sewer system by RainReady landscaping. In 2020, CNT will continue this program and expand it to other communities.

Between 2007 and 2016 in Chicago, more than $400 Million in insurance payments for flooding was paid to residents. In 2019, CNT explored an often-overlooked aspect of this problem: the disproportionate impact of urban flooding in communities of color, much of it occurring outside the floodplains delineated in the FEMA flood risk maps. In the context of climate change, this problem will quickly worsen. To ensure that the solutions to climate vulnerability are community-led, CNT is now providing technical assistance to grassroots organizations to improve climate resilience in their communities.

of flood damage insurance claims were paid in communities of color.

Accomplishments in 2019: Community Development

CNT continued to advance equitable transit-oriented development, or eTOD – which ensures that benefit of new transit investment accrues to those who need it most – in collaboration with Elevated Chicago and many other partners in Chicago. We produced a series of five webcasted workshops, resulting in five policy briefs that surfaced new ideas around cultural identity, social services, and emerging transportation technology. Jacky Grimshaw continued to provide leadership on the Elevated Chicago steering committee, pushing the City of Chicago to expand TOD development incentives to high frequency bus routes. Based on feedback from these partners, CNT also expanded the data and functionality of the eTOD Social Impact Calculator.

The eTOD Social Impact Calculator

CNT launched a new web tool for our Urban Opportunity Agenda, a set of ten strategies that simultaneously create jobs, lower the cost of living, and help low-income families achieve financial stability while creating more efficient cities. Users may customize strategies such as energy retrofits, transit access to jobs, and others, for up to 122 U.S. cities. In 2020 we intend to work with national partners to apply the web tool to advance their poverty reduction goals.

The Urban Opportunity Agenda web tool.

Accomplishments in 2019: Transportation

CNT tackled some tough questions on transportation equity in 2019. Our national research found that communities of color in ten cities have less frequent transit service, longer wait times for rides from Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, and far fewer bikeshare options and carshare vehicles than white communities. In Chicago, we demonstrated that low income households that give up a car, use transit for work commutes, and take TNCs for other trips like grocery and medical appointments could reduce their transportation costs. CNT’s widely publicized analysis revealed that equity-focused changes to TNC fees in Chicago could help raise money for transit without burdening low income communities of color. This helped inform a Chicago City Council decision and generated national interest in incorporating equity and affordability considerations into TNC policy design.

Map of change in average per-ride TNP fee.

The State of California is among the nation’s leaders in directly confronting the challenges of housing affordability and climate change. To show how these goals are intertwined, CNT produced planning tools for California’s Planning and Conservation League to inform state policymaking. Our Infill Index scores the performance of places based on household vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and references socioeconomic factors including race and ethnicity to protect vulnerable communities and prevent displacement.

Map of our Infill Index which scores the performance of places based on household vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and references socioeconomic factors including race and ethnicity to protect vulnerable communities and prevent displacement.


An overview of our finances in 2019 are below. You may also view CNT's 2019 Audit here.

CNT Revenue and Expenses Table

What’s Next?

Our accomplishments in 2019 provide us with energy and positive direction moving into 2020. With the challenges that our society and planet face, we are convinced that our work is more important than ever. Our topics of focus – water, climate, community development, and transportation – provide key opportunities to intervene for a more sustainable and equitable future.

And we believe that our unique blend of skillsets is the right approach. In 2020, we will continue to blend rigorous analysis and community engagement to develop innovative solutions to the problems that face us. A few highlights are noted below.

Rigorous analysis of urban problems is a hallmark of CNT’s work. In 2020, we will:

  • Demonstrate the link between green stormwater infrastructure and nearby property values.
  • Improve methods to evaluate the equity impacts of investments and operational changes in public transit systems.

Authentic engagement of communities positions local leaders as experts, reinforcing CNT’s longtime commitment to asset-based community development. In 2020, we will:

  • Involve residents and community leaders in the Calumet area in developing a baseline of where and how frequently urban flooding occurs.
  • Launch a new transportation equity network in the Chicago region, with transportation equity advocates in leadership positions and CNT playing a supporting role.

A national reputation for innovation gives CNT the ability to advance its ideas broadly. In 2020, we will:

  • Design a program to retrofit housing for climate resilience and sustainability while preserving affordability, including a pilot in Evanston and wider-scale policy guidance.
  • Produce and publicize strategy guides on water innovation on three topics: community benefits of green infrastructure; water affordability; and innovative funding and financing for water systems.

And an entrepreneurial spirit means that CNT is more than just a think tank; when conditions are right, we pursue direct program service delivery as well. In 2020, we will:

  • Launch a home retrofit program in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago to build resilience to flooding.
  • Oversee the construction of green stormwater infrastructure and local arts installations in several areas across Chicago.

Supporters & Funders

Thanks to all of the funders and supporters who worked with us in 2019! We were generously funded by the following organizations and individuals:

Significant funders, clients, and sponsors

  • American Public Transportation Association
  • Anonymous
  • Appalachian Regional Commission
  • California Planning and Conservation League
  • The Chicago Community Trust
  • City of Bloomington, IN
  • City of Chicago, IL
  • City of Lancaster, PA
  • City of Phoenix, AZ
  • Cook County, IL
  • Crown Family Philanthropies
  • C.S. Mott Foundation
  • Divvy
  • Elevated Chicago
  • Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust
  • Energy Foundation
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Evanston Community Foundation
  • Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities
  • Institute for Sustainable Communities
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Joyce Foundation
  • JPB Foundation
  • Kresge Foundation
  • Lake County (IL) Stormwater Management Commission
  • McDougal Family Foundation
  • McKnight Foundation
  • Motorola Solutions Foundation
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • National Science Foundation
  • New Visions Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Prince Charitable Trusts
  • Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation
  • Sally Mead Hands Foundation
  • Spalding County, GA
  • Surdna Foundation
  • Thanksgiving Fund
  • Town of Carrboro, NC
  • TransitCenter
  • Transportation Research Board (TRB)
  • Tucker Summit Community Improvement District, GA
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Economic Development Administration
  • Village of Oak Park, IL
  • Village of Wilmette, IL

Individual, Family, and Corporate Donors ($1,000+)

  • Lucy and Peter Ascoli
  • The ATHENA Fund
  • Big Cat Foundation
  • Joe Block and Debbie Pavick
  • BNSF
  • Bosch
  • Jonathan Boyer and Judith Stockdale
  • Chris Burgess and Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
  • Crazy Peak Foundation
  • Current
  • Desmond & Ahern, Ltd.
  • Elevate Energy
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Farr Associates
  • Jan Feldman
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Bernard J. Ford
  • Michael Freedberg
  • Fuzzy Math
  • Randy Gunn
  • Anne Hallett
  • Julie Hamos
  • Michael and Janet Hanley
  • Robert Henderson
  • Jocarno Fund
  • Nancy Juda and Jens Brasch
  • Bo and Eunice Kemp
  • Lantern Partners
  • Howard Learner and Lauren Rosenthal
  • Lee/Coughlin Family Fund
  • Jeremy Liu
  • James Mann
  • Clark and Sari Maxfield
  • Microsoft
  • Susan Mudd and John Norquist
  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Mary O’Connell
  • Margaret H. O’Dell and Alexander E. Sharp
  • Openlands
  • Julia Parzen and Daniel Johnson
  • Lindene Patton
  • Jeanne Rattenbury and Geoff Grove
  • Red Bud Fund of the Evanston Community Foundation
  • Eleanor and Bill Revelle
  • Sharon and Louis Rosenthal
  • Debbie and Jeffrey Ross
  • Anne, Tony, and Carl Ruzicka
  • Sam Schwartz
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Schlickman Associates LLC
  • Ellen Seidman
  • Charles and Kathryn Shenk
  • Skidmore Owings & Merrill
  • Slipstream
  • Stoltzfus Household
  • Judith Shepelak and George Vinyard Charitable Fund
  • Kathy Tholin and Steve Starr
  • Harriet Tregoning and Geoff Anderson
  • Union Pacific
  • UrbanWorks, Ltd. – Patricia Saldana Natke, FAIA
  • Marie and Bob Weissbourd

Board of Directors

  • We were guided by our committed and
    dedicated Board of Directors:
  • Robert C. Henderson, EdD, Board Chair
  • Margaret O’Dell, Vice Chair
  • Bennett Johnson III, Treasurer
  • Steve Schlickman, Secretary
  • Kirk Chamberlain
  • Obinna Ekwueme
  • Bernard J. Ford
  • Stefan Gspurning
  • Anne Hallett
  • Ann P. Kalayil
  • Bo Kemp
  • Mark J. Ladd
  • Jeremy Liu
  • Ceasar McDowell
  • Dick Munson
  • Mary O’Connell
  • Lindene Patton
  • Louis F. Rosenthal

Staff, volunteers, and contractors

  • Scott Bernstein, Founder
  • Marcella Bondie Keenan, Director, RainReady
  • Kate Borghgraef, Development Associate
  • David Chandler, Director Emeritus, Economic Development
  • Paul Cusimano, Managing Director, Development
  • Robert Dean, Chief Executive Officer
  • Paul Esling, Senior Application Developer
  • Jacky Grimshaw, Vice President, Government Affairs
  • Peter Haas, Chief Research Scientist
  • Elizabeth Irvin, Transportation Director
  • Jon Kuta, Senior Web Developer
  • Jen McGraw, Director, Sustainability Innovation
  • Bryan Nelson, Field Manager
  • Rebecca Raines, Manager, Outreach and Public Engagement
  • Preeti Shankar, Research and Urban Planning Analyst
  • Bridget Torres, Vice President, Talent and Culture
  • Dawn Walker, Director, RainReady
  • Drew Williams-Clark, Managing Director, Urban Resilience
  • Anna Wolf, Senior Project Manager, Water and Transportation
  • Linda Young, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director, Urban Analytics
  • Cathy Garcia
  • Rosie Hopkins
  • Tony Ruzicka
  • Hal Sprague

CNT is a member of EarthShare and 1% for the Planet.