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new initiative on region's water future

April 9, 2018 | ECF Press Release

Five shoreline community foundations in Illinois and Northwest Indiana team up to join the Great Lakes One Water Partnership on a new initiative to drive progress on water infrastructure challenges.

This effort is designed to help communities in six regions, around the Great Lakes, develop and implement projects that will secure the region’s water future.Great Lakes One Water Partnership

teaming together for southwest region of Lake Michigan

The community foundations in the southwest region of Lake Michigan include Evanston Community Foundation (IL), Legacy Foundation (IN), Porter County Community Foundation (IN), The Chicago Community Trust (IL), and Unity Foundation of La Porte County (IN). The Great Lakes One Water Partnership is a multi-year, basin-wide initiative supported by the Great Lakes Protection Fund and the Council of Michigan Foundations. The project will support these five shoreline community foundations as force multipliers to advance a new era of water infrastructure management for the benefit of people and businesses in the southwest region of Lake Michigan.

With $1 million in seed funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the Council of Michigan Foundations and a team of water experts will be raising over $4 million to coordinate nearly 30 community foundations in six regions surrounding the Great Lakes, in the United States and Canada. The five community foundations in the Illinois and Indiana region, will be focused on the southwest corner of Lake Michigan, stretching from Evanston, Illinois to the Indiana border with Michigan. Together, the community foundations have created a team of water management and watershed experts from their region to capitalize on this unprecedented partnership and identify innovative opportunities to effect real change on water resources in their region.

initiative efforts

In commenting on the regional team, Monique Jones, President and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation noted that “we have incredibly talented leaders from our region who will provide the technical and political guidance needed to target the most innovative solutions to our water infrastructures.” Bill Higbie, with the Porter County Community Foundation, added: “Through this extraordinary partnership, we will be working together to identify a catalytic regional project to improve the water infrastructure in our region.”

In explaining the importance of their support of the community foundations, Dave Rankin, Vice President of Programs at the Great Lakes Protection Fund, said “Water defines our region. It is the foundation of our economy and it anchors our quality of life. To solve our water problems, we cannot rely on the usual players or old strategies. This project is designed to bring communities together and give them the power to collectively secure their own water futures. We need new voices and new perspectives around the table and this project is centered on investing in community foundations who can be a force for change.”

Helene Gayle, President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, explained: “Our infrastructure is about more than moving water; It protects public health, preserves critical ecosystems, and guides community and economic growth. Piecemeal approaches simply will not work in this heavily urbanized region of hundreds of municipalities and aging systems. This partnership allows us to find solutions that work across communities and benefit everyone.”

Maggi Spartz, said, “Unity Foundation is excited to build on the work we’ve been doing since 2003 around protecting Lake Michigan.” Legacy Foundation President, Carolyn Saxton, added that her foundation is excited to represent Lake County, Indiana, in this partnership “because we know the Great Lakes are critical to our region’s environmental and economic health. Securing the future of one of our most valuable resources demands comprehensive action and the expertise of our communities’ leaders at the table.”

Rob Collier, CEO and President of the Council of Michigan Foundations said: “Community foundations are anchors, and often serve as silent partners working tirelessly in communities. With trust in government at an all-time low, community foundations can step up as trusted partners and agents to drive positive change. That is why this initiative helps community foundations lead the way for collaborative water progress.”

about the Great Lakes One Water Partnership

Over a four-year period, the Great Lakes One Water Partnership will bring together community foundations and their local leaders, inject financial and intellectual capital, drive technology innovation, and create a shared, basin-wide communications strategy for the Great Lakes that will build the public will for support and advancement of new solutions. The regional teams of foundations and their local partners will advance water infrastructure plans to improve health, economic development, and equity in their communities.

contacting the five communifty foundation partners

For more information about the individual community foundations: Evanston Community Foundation (IL), Monique Jones 847.492.0990; Legacy Foundation (IN), Carolyn Saxton 219.736.1880; Porter County Community Foundation (IN), Bill Higbie 219.465.0294; The Chicago Community Trust (IL), Michael Davidson 312.616.8000; Unity Foundation of La Porte County (IN), Maggi Spartz 219.879.0327. For more information on the Great Lakes One Water Partnership, Sheila Leahy, 847.494.8715.

about the foundation

Founded in 1986, the Evanston Community Foundation helps Evanston thrive now and forever as a just, vibrant and inclusive community. It builds, connects, and distributes resources and knowledge to Evanston – not just one group, neighborhood or issue – all of Evanston. ECF stands ready to be a thought partner, a collaborator, an investor, a facilitator, and most of all a convener to grow impact. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.