DETROIT, Mich., June 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund partners today announced seven projects selected to receive $1.46 million in grant funding to benefit communities and habitats in southeast Michigan. The grants awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will leverage $2.5 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of more than $4 million.

These community-driven investments will strengthen regional resilience by installing green infrastructure, adding more than 2.4 million gallons of stormwater storage, and reducing the threat of flooding and other intensifying environmental stressors. Additionally, projects will restore critical habitat for wildlife and create or enhance public access to and use of natural areas and parks across five counties.

The grants, which were the first awarded by the fund, will support projects that also will:

  • Restore and enhance 733 acres of wildlife habitat
  • Create and improve more than 16 acres of neighborhood green space
  • Help restore the quality and connectivity of the region’s unique habitats
  • Improve quality of life for residents by increasing public access to natural areas and parks for communities across five counties
  • Reach more than 9,500 people through direct engagement or education

“The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund demonstrates how public-private partnerships can measurably strengthen resilience of habitats and communities at a regional scale,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “These inaugural grants are an excellent example of how investments to improve resilience and restore habitat and water quality can achieve a dual community benefit, by reducing flooding and increasing public access to natural areas and parks.”

Seven corporate, foundation and government funding partners joined together to create the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund. The fund is supported by contributions from:

  • ArcelorMittal
  • The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • The U.S. Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service

“The foundation greatly values its participation in the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund,” said Neil Hawkins, president of the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. “The fund is not only bringing new public and private funding sources to the region for excellent projects but also helping build relationships amongst funders. Collaboration is a core value of our foundation, and the fund is a shining example of how to do collaboration well.”

“The USDA Forest Service is proud to share in the investment of improving water quality and public access to natural areas, with the additional benefits of habitat restoration and reducing the potential for flooding in Southeast Michigan,” said Bob Lueckel, acting regional forester for the Eastern Region. “The benefits of these projects will strengthen urban and rural communities and help provide a stronger connection to the outdoors in Detroit and surrounding areas.”

“The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund exemplifies the strength of public-private partnerships,” said Chris Korleski, director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes National Program Office. “The fund brings together corporate, federal, and non-governmental partners, leveraging Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds to deliver on-the-ground projects that make a difference in communities by reducing stormwater runoff, restoring habitat and improving water quality in the Great Lakes basin.”

“Linking communities to nature though habitat restoration and green stormwater infrastructure is a major triumph,” said Susan White, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. “The Service looks forward to seeing the benefits from the wonderful projects this fund is supporting in its inaugural year and is grateful to the many applicants for their vision and dedication to building a new greenbelt in southeast Michigan.”

“ArcelorMittal’s commitment to produce safe, sustainable steel extends beyond our operations,” said Bill Steers, general manager of corporate responsibility for ArcelorMittal. “We are also committed to ensuring that that our communities, including the region surrounding our ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit facility, benefit from sustainable partnerships that lead to more resilient habitats. Through our collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are able to do just that by improving water quality, enhancing natural habitat and strengthening ecosystem services. The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund is a shared public-private commitment to this region’s natural resources, and we look forward to sharing in the outcomes of these inaugural grants.”

“The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund aligns squarely with the Foundation’s strong interest in implementing green infrastructure throughout the region and leveraging these investments for increased access for all to public green space, recreational spaces and improved parks and trails – all seven projects funded will advance this in unique and innovative ways,” said Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

“The grants in the city of Detroit do more than address stormwater and environmental issues,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program. “The grants support the engagement of residents, themselves, to ensure that they shape and benefit from the changes to be put in place. Our Detroit Program’s highest priority is on seeing neighborhood-based, resident-led organization broadly included in revival of our neighborhoods.”

“The work funded by these grants will help protect Southeast Michigan residents from increasingly strong and sustained storms that are amplified by the climate crisis,” said Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome, senior program officer with Kresge’s Environment Program, noting that 2019 was the third-wettest April on record in Detroit.

To learn more about the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund and the seven projects announced today, please visit nfwf.org/semichigan.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $5.3 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at nfwf.org.

About ArcelorMittal
ArcelorMittal is the world's leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and an industrial footprint in 19 countries. Guided by a philosophy to produce safe, sustainable steel, we are the leading supplier of quality steel in the major global steel markets including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging, with world-class research and development and outstanding distribution networks.

Through our core values of sustainability, quality and leadership, we operate responsibly with respect to the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, contractors and the communities in which we operate. For more information about ArcelorMittal, visit: corporate.arcelormittal.com or usa.arcelormittal.com.

About the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation’s mission is to nurture environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit, consistent with sustainable business models, and support initiatives to restore the Great Lakes Ecosystem. The Foundation is focused on improving water quality, especially in the watersheds impacting metro Detroit and Bayfield, Ontario; promoting environmental health, justice and sustainable development; and supporting the arts as a means to strengthen the metropolitan Detroit region. The 10-year old, $300 million foundation has awarded $87 million in grants to date including $17.5 million to promote green stormwater infrastructure. For more information, visit erbff.org.

About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit kresge.org.

About the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the foundation that bears his name. The foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information, visit ralphcwilsonjrfoundation.org.

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads the nation’s environmental science, research, education, and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. For more information, visit epa.gov.

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit fws.gov.

About the U.S. Forest Service
Established in 1905, the U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit fs.fed.us.

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Rob Blumenthal
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(202) 857-0166
rob.blumenthal@nfwf.org