Grand Rapids philanthropist Peter Wege and The Wege Foundation announced that they will continue to support the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition for five more years through a $2.5 million grant.
“We are extremely grateful for the generous support from Mr. Wege and The Wege Foundation,” said Lynn McClure, Midwest director for the National Parks Conservation Association, and a co-chair of the Coalition. “Their leadership has been instrumental in elevating the profile of the Great Lakes nationally, which has led to a federal commitment to improve the health of the lakes for the millions of people who live along the shores and visit each year.”
Former Steelcase CEO Peter Wege and his namesake foundation launched the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition in 2004 with a 5-year, $5 million grant. They have continued to be core supporters of the Coalition, which also receives funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, The Joyce Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.
“Trustees are impressed by the collaborative support of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and related Great Lakes work from so many other foundations in the region,” said Ellen Satterlee, CEO of The Wege Foundation. “Together, we’re making a real difference for our Great Lakes and we at The Wege Foundation are proud and honored to work with the Coalition on this important cause.”
The Coalition and its 120 member organizations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have been leaders in securing a robust Great Lakes restoration plan and accompanying federal funding. Over the past three years, President Obama and the U.S. Congress have infused more than $1 billion into restoration programs through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution, reduce runoff from cities and farms, restore habitat and wetlands and fight invasive species like the Asian carp.
“Great Lakes restoration efforts are producing results, but there is more work to do,” said Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of Alliance for the Great Lakes, and a co-chair of the Coalition. “The ongoing support from Peter Wege and The Wege Foundation will help ensure that restoration efforts do not falter.”
Over the last eight years, Great Lakes restoration has attracted broad, bi-partisan support from around the region, including environmental groups, tribes, industry and business leaders and public officials at the local, state and federal level.
“Great Lakes restoration unites people, rather than divides them,” said John Jackson, interim executive director, Great Lakes United, and a co-chair of the Coalition. “We all have a responsibility to be strong stewards of this global resource. It’s important that both the United States and Canada support the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes—more than 30 million people depend on them for drinking water.”
The Great Lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water and have helped define the region culturally and economically. Restoration efforts produce economic benefits to local communities. For example, a Brookings Institution report concluded that for every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration, at least $2 will be generated in new jobs, development, and increased property values. A study by Grand Valley State University economists found that a $10 million restoration project at Muskegon Lake in Michigan produced more than $66 million in economic benefits via increased property values, more tourism and higher tax revenues.
“Great Lakes restoration is good for the environment and economy,” said Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office and a Coalition Governance Board member. “We look forward to working with our nation’s leaders to ensure that Great Lakes restoration programs continue to move forward to protect our drinking water, public health, jobs and way of life.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2012
CONTACT: Jordan Lubetkin, 734-887-7109