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Lake Superior and Upper Peninsula Area Community Foundations Release Plan to Support Resilient Communities

A partnership between community foundations in the Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior region is in need of your input in an effort to protect lakefront and water resources by becoming more resilient to severe weather events.

The Keweenaw Community Foundation is working with the Community Foundation of Marquette County, Community Foundation of the Upper Peninsula and Delta County, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, and M&M Area Community Foundation to release an action plan designed to protect the area by limiting the impact of extreme weather events and flooding.

It’s called the Resilient Future Project and seeks to build a community of civic and municipal leaders with the vision and drive to identify and implement strategies to better prepare for severe storm events.

A short six question survey is available online through Wednesday at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9ZQK9MM

The community foundations are securing $300,000 grant funding to go along with an additional $200,000 match, to help kickstart the work.

They have also lined up a team of experts to provide the human and technical resources needed to support each community.

The Great Lakes define the past, present and future of the Lake Superior/Upper Peninsula region. The health of the Lakes determine the environmental, economic, and cultural health of the region. The devastating effects of severe weather events have brought the importance of the Lakes and their fragility into sharp focus. However, few communities are prepared to address the challenge, and limited local resources are being drained to manage the devastating effects of the problem. Furthermore, communities are fending for themselves in their attempts to respond to the challenges.

The Keweenaw Community Foundation — together with the Community Foundation of Marquette County, Community Foundation of the Upper Peninsula and Delta County, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, and M&M Area Community Foundation — recognize that we share the same mission in improving the health and wellbeing of our Great Lakes communities and together are forging a single coordinated response to help communities adapt to extreme weather events. Together, we are vested to building a RESILIENT FUTURE for the region. Community foundations, with the support and guidance of citizens, leading experts, municipal and civic leaders from the region will join forces to face the challenge together to increase the resiliency of the region.

Preparing for and adapting to severe weather is essential to having a resilient and prosperous region. Creating a resilient future can mean building flood defenses, such as wetlands; or changing policies that, for example, protect natural floodplains. Creating a resilient future depends on governments, but also engaged and committed citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations, and civic groups. These groups can implement their own adaptations, setting examples and serving as leaders for the community. Ultimately, the process will support local leaders to assess impacts, vulnerabilities and risks; plan for resilience; secure resources; implement a resilience plan; and monitor and evaluate the impact of their efforts. Beginning in 2019, five communities will be engaged in the process — Duluth, MN, Houghton, MI, Marquette, MI, Menominee, MI, and Les Cheneaux, MI — with another five communities engaged in the second phase of the project.

The community foundations are securing a $300,000 seed grant from Great Lakes Protection Fund, Ralph Wilson Foundation and Kresge Foundation, along with an additional $200,000 match, to help kickstart the work. Furthermore, they have lined up a team of experts to provide the human and technical resources needed to support each community.

In 2019, they will launch the Resilient Future Project that will seek to establish region-wide commitment to resilience by securing and financing a team of resiliency experts from University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, and Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust to work directly with local leaders in individual communities to help them: 1) assess their current state of resilience and 2) identify a strategic set of opportunities to actively improve their resilience, all the while, learning and sharing with other communities going through the same process. Then, working alongside the local leaders, help them rally the public support, institutional and financial resources needed to fund the strategic resilience opportunities identified.

Dave Rankin, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Protection Fund said: “We are so inspired to see community foundations in the Lake Superior/Upper Peninsula region coming together to define the projects they need most to secure their own water future. They are new voices who can be a force for change. Water is critical to every community, especially in the Great Lakes region, and regional foundations can be powerful catalysts for change. Water is everything to this region. We look forward to seeing their progress in building the capacity of the region to become leaders in resiliency planning and action.”

Rob Collier, former CEO and President of the Council of Michigan Foundations said: “Community foundations are anchors, and often serve as silent partners working tirelessly in communities. This initiative helps community foundations lead the way for collaborative water progress.”

The Lake Superior/Upper Peninsula region is one of six regional teams surrounding the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes One Water Partnership. The effort is shepherded by the Council of Michigan Foundations and designed to help communities around the Great Lakes region develop and implement projects that will secure the region’s water future. To date, three funders have invested in the work of the Great Lakes One Water Partnership — with the Great Lakes Protection Fund leading the way, along with Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and Kresge Foundation.

The Great Lakes One Water Partnership is a multi-year, basin-wide initiative focused on engaging shoreline community foundations as a force multiplier to advance a new era of water infrastructure management for the benefit of people and businesses in the Great Lakes Basin. The Lake Superior/Upper Peninsula region joins 5 other regional efforts on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, and two located on the northern and southern parts of Lake Michigan, in this initiative.

Through philanthropic services, strategic investments and community leadership, the Keweenaw Community Foundation helps people support the causes they care about, now and for generations to come. For more information on Keweenaw Community Foundation and how to give, visit our website at www.keweenawgives.org.

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