The Richard M. Daley Water Equity Community Award

A legacy of underinvestment in water infrastructure and preparing for climate change is impacting all of us, but it is particularly damaging to poorer communities and communities of color. It is our fundamental belief at the Cities Initiative that every person has a basic right to access safe, clean, and affordable water.  Launched in 2023, the Richard M. Daley Water Equity Community Award was created to support those communities most at risk to improve equitable access to water for their residents.

Our nation’s most vulnerable cities are struggling to maintain their infrastructure and the basic right to access safe drinking water is at risk. Communities also need access to resources to deal with urban flooding which is becoming more frequent as our climate changes. These communities need our help!

Please consider giving to the Daley Water Equity Community Award and help us expand our support to communities of color and those with significant issues of poverty to address their most pressing water infrastructure issues! This award supports communities at risk by providing:

  • Complimentary membership to the Cities Initiative with access to a network of more than 270 local governments in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin
  • Free registration and travel support to our annual conferences, a forum to exchange best practices and learn about key issues impacting our region
  • Priority access to Cities Initiative programs and opportunities and assistance in accessing federal funding to modernize their city’s water infrastructure and eradicate lead lines
  • Opportunities to co-develop projects to address critical issues impacting their residents

In 2023, five communities received the Daley Water Equity Community Award and have become some of our most active and transformative members:

  • Benton Harbor, Michigan
  • Dunkirk, New York
  • Mount Vernon, New York
  • East Chicago, Indiana
  • Richmond Heights, Ohio

The Cities Initiative is looking to support more at-risk communities and ensure that we address water equity issues impacting our most vulnerable residents, and that all local governments have a voice in addressing these critical challenges.


This award was inspired by former Chicago Mayor and co-founder of the Cities Initiative, Richard M. Daley’s passion for our lakes and rivers and for addressing issues impacting the region’s most vulnerable residents. Mayor Daley’s leadership went far beyond Chicago as he became an unparalleled national and international advocate for protecting these precious resources and addressing water equity issues. The Cities Initiative is proud to carry on this legacy and deliver programming to ensure that every resident in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin has access to clean, safe, and affordable water.


Everyone can contribute to the growth of Daley Water Equity Community Award. Donate today and help ensure that all our residents can feel safe when turning on their tap.

Corporations and foundations can also support the development of the endowment for the Daley Water Equity Community Award. To learn more about the Award and how you can make a difference, please contact our Senior Director of Membership and Development, Phil Murphy-Rhéaume, through email at