Small Grants Program

Program History

Since 2011, GLISA has run seven competitions and competitively awarded 42 small grants. Grantees have included local and regional organizations committed to integrating climate information with adaptation decision-making. The program has evolved from more technical research-based projects in early years to funding strategic partnerships and collaborations that boost the effectiveness and impact of climate adaptation efforts. These projects bridge the gap between climate information and those making decisions about adapting to climate change impacts. Click here to learn more about GLISA’s boundary chain model for engagement.

2023 Competition

GLISA ran our most recent Small Grants competition in 2023. Our goal was to fund collaborative projects that expand GLISA’s impact and address issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in adaptation action. We received 47 letters of intent and we invited 27 applicants to submit full proposals. We ultimately awarded ten grants of up to $35,000 each that will run for two years starting in early 2024. Funded organizations will collaborate with GLISA to advance equitable climate adaptation in the Great Lakes region. 

To learn more about funded projects please see our press release and project descriptions below.

2023 Competition Resources:

Please contact GLISA’s Sustained Engagement Specialist, Tori Field, at, with any questions related to the Small Grants Program.

Past and Current Grantees

2024 Grant Recipients
Project Title: Elevating Youth Leadership and Peer-Learning to Support Climate Adaptation in West Michigan Lakeshore Frontline Communities
Project Team: Grand Valley State University (grantee)
Muskegon Community College
West Michigan Environmental Action Council
Summary: Young people are vulnerable to climate change impacts which affect their immediate and lifelong physical and mental health. This vulnerability is especially high in youth living in frontline communities who may also experience non-climate challenges such as racism, poverty and food insecurity. For this reason, educating, supporting, and engaging young people is an essential climate adaptation strategy. Through this project, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) aims to engage and empower high school and college students in Muskegon County, MI. The project team will create a climate change curriculum that covers climate data and technologies and includes peer-to-peer learning opportunities and community-based research. They will also create an education support system for local high school students. This will include mentorship, experiential learning projects, presentations, and training/materials for their teachers. This project affirms that universities, community colleges, and schools can play an important role in linking climate science to young people and their local communities.
Project Title: Empowering People of Faith in Northern Indiana to Advance Environmental Justice and Climate Adaptation through Education & Collaboration
Project Team: Faith in Place (grantee)
Creation Justice Ministries
Summary: Climate change impacts disproportionately harm divested communities and their environment in Northern Indiana. These same community members are often left out of opportunities to take part in climate resilience planning. Yet, houses of worship can give rise to natural networks of individuals who are mobilized to organize and take collective action. Building on this concept, Faith in Place will use their Green Team Coaching model to empower people of faith in Northern Indiana to engage in climate adaptation planning and advocate for their community. These Green Teams are able to carry out environmental programming that aligns with local context, culture, and theological practices. Furthermore, these engagements create a space for storytelling as a way to share how the climate crisis is impacting local communities. Faith in Place will use a multifaith-based climate adaptation curriculum and training developed by Creation Justice Ministries to educate people of faith on current climate impacts and potential solutions in their region.
Project Title: Equitable Access to Technologies for Underrepresented and Small-Scale Farmers to Build Resilience to Climate Change
Project Team: Michigan State University (grantee)
Summary: Many indigenous communities grapple with changing climate patterns that impact their way of life. In the Great Lakes region, changing temperatures affect blueberry production and create hurdles for small-scale growers. This project aims to address the unequal effects of climate change on Odawa Indian farmers and blueberry growers in the Great Lakes region. To do this, the project team will host workshops with Native blueberry growers and community leaders to understand their unique adaptation challenges. They will also survey growers to learn more about climate impacts and technology needs. The team will then identify technology gaps and work with partners to explore culturally-relevant adaptation solutions.
Project Title: Equitable Climate Adaptation for Latine Minnesotans
Project Team: Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina (COPAL) (grantee)
Summary: Communities of color across the state of Minnesota are feeling the unequal impacts of climate change and environmental injustice. At the same time, black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) are far less likely than white Minnesotans to engage in outdoor activities. COPAL addresses these issues through community education, direct services, outdoor community engagement, justice for workers, and coalition leadership. COPAL builds power primarily with first, second, and third generation Latine immigrants living in Minnesota. Through this project, COPAL will engage hundreds of Latines through community sessions, events, and individual conversations. Community members will gain a greater connection with nature and will learn about climate adaptation and pollution on human health. COPAL will also lead policy efforts to protect immigrants and BIPOC communities in Minnesota. This project amplifies Minnesota’s environmental justice movement and expands a robust group of activists and communities that are able to adapt to climate change.
Project Title: FloodWise Communities Learn/Do Cohorts
Project Team: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA (grantee)
Green Tier Legacy Communities
Michigan Municipal League
Southeast Michigan Council of Governments
Summary: Vulnerability assessments help communities understand local climate risks and identify areas for action. Yet, many communities lack the capacity and funds to complete this intensive and expensive process. Through this project, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI USA) will use GLISA’s FloodWise Communities (FWC) program to help Great Lakes communities complete stormwater vulnerability assessments. ICLEI USA is partnering with Wisconsin Green Tier Legacy Communities, the Michigan Municipal League, and Southeast Michigan Council of Governments to recruit interested communities. The project will focus on supporting local governments that are under-resourced, or that primarily serve economically disadvantaged or historically marginalized communities. Participants will receive training on team building, vulnerability assessments, communications, and inclusive community engagement. Then, participants will go through the FWC program and create stormwater vulnerability assessments. This work is part of a larger effort to bring FWC to communities across the Great Lakes region.
Project Title: McDougall-Hunt Climate Resiliency Initiative (MHCRI)
Project Team: Detroit Future City (grantee)
Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corporation
Summary: The McDougall Hunt neighborhood in Detroit has suffered depopulation and disinvestment in recent decades. Now, the neighborhood includes many low-income residents and significant amounts of vacant land. Despite these challenges, residents are organized and interested in leveraging new opportunities to build a more resilient and inclusive neighborhood. Detroit Future City is partnering with Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corporation to engage McDougall-Hunt residents around land use and climate adaptation planning. This work will include community engagement events and tours of local land use projects. The team will also research appropriate land use and climate adaptation strategies and create an updated, community-informed plan for activating vacant land. This work will lead to a more engaged community that feels ownership and empowerment in their capacity for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Project Title: Milwaukee Environmental Justice Collaborative Climate Education Resources Serving High School Summer Interns
Project Team: Reflo, Inc. (grantee)
Cream City Conservation Corps.
Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps.
Groundwork Milwaukee
Menomonee Valley Partners
Nearby Nature Milwaukee
River Revitalization Foundation
Riveredge Nature Center
Sixteen Street Community Health Centers
Teens Grow Greens
TRUE Skool
Urban Ecology Center
Wild Indigo Nature Explorations Program (Audubon Great Lakes)
Summary: Environmental youth programming in the Milwaukee area has been siloed and unnecessarily competitive, which has diminished outcomes for youth, organizations, and communities. While individual youth programs can be successful, the sector could benefit from more cooperation and stronger partnerships. To address these issues, 13 environmental organizations formed an Environmental Justice (EJ) Collaborative Alliance to align efforts and share resources across their internship programs. Every summer, these groups hire over 125 youth across southeastern Wisconsin and throughout the City of Milwaukee. This project supports the alliance and their efforts to connect these (mainly) young people of color to life skills and family-supporting career pathways in climate and environment. The alliance will focus on collaborative programming, synchronized and competitive wages, joint recruitment, and youth networking. The alliance will also develop, share, and deploy climate change and green infrastructure learning units. These units and supporting resources will become a model for the organizations to teach climate change information to interns.
Project Title: Reporting on Climate Adaptation in Marginalized Communities
Project Team: Knight Center for Environmental Journalism (grantee)
Michigan Interscholastic Press Association
Planet Detroit
Summary: Although the field is improving, there is a lack of diversity in environmental reporting and journalism. This lack of diversity means news organizations aren’t able to fully report on complex issues like climate change. Furthermore, improving diversity in journalism will help news organizations better identify important stories that may otherwise be missed. Through this project, the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism will train a diverse cohort of student journalists who will infuse their experiences and perspectives into their climate stories. These stories will show greater nuance and a more comprehensive picture of the challenges and opportunities related to climate adaptation. Stories will recognize that marginalized communities suffer an unequal share of climate harm while also highlighting their efforts to adapt. This project aims to improve representation in climate reporting and influence public awareness and understanding across the Great Lakes region.
Project Title: River Futures: Climate Scenario Planning for Improved Climate Resilience and Preparedness in the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern
Project Team: River Institute (grantee)
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Environment Program
Summary: Decades of collaboration at the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern (AOC) at Akwesasne/ Cornwall/ Massena have led to significant progress for remediation and restoration. However, climate change creates new and uncertain challenges to ongoing restoration and environmental protection. The River Institute will use GLISA’s Scenario Planning approach to support climate adaptation planning for the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries. This area spans the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, Ontario and New York. Together, scientists, decision-makers, practitioners and community groups will develop future scenarios and use them to inform environmental planning. This work will be guided by recent initiatives led by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Environment Program and the River Institute to expand and deepen collaborations through a Two Row Wampum framework. This framework calls for cooperation in support of common interests and mutual respect for autonomy.
Project Title: Training Communities to Access Climate Resilience Funding and Finance
Project Team: American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) (grantee)
Climate Resilience Consulting (CRC)
Summary: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are historic opportunities for funding climate resilience activities. Yet, local governments encounter major hurdles in accessing these funds. ASAP is updating their Ready-to-Fund Resilience Training and Toolkit to help participants navigate complex funding systems and develop fundable climate resilience projects. The program also raises awareness of systemic barriers disproportionately affecting urban low-income, African American, and Hispanic American communities. This specialized training will be open to frontline communities in the Great Lakes region including community-based organizations, local governments, and private sector contractors. Participants will boost their funding capacities and contribute to an influx in climate resilience projects across Great Lakes communities.
2019 Grant Recipients
Project Title: Applying Climate Information to Build Resilience: Translating Technical Results into Practical Tools for Community Decision Makers
Research Team: Noah Gaetz, Senior Manager, Ontario Climate Consortium
Synopsis: Climate impacts are already occurring across the Great Lakes, and it is expected that these impacts will continue and become increasingly variable and extreme as we move into the future. Communities and watershed management agencies in Ontario, such as Conservation Authorities, are increasingly expected to address climate change at the local scale and need to integrate the best available climate data into their research, planning, and decision making to build resilience. This project will begin in April 2020 and aim to mobilize regional climate projections that are being developed in 2019 to undertake four training sessions across the Region of Durham with stakeholders, including municipal and conservation authority planners, engineers, GIS experts, and other technical staff. More specifically, training materials will be produced along with key messages relating to climate data and future projections around how they can be applied to research, planning, and decision making related to natural environment projects. These types of projects could include watershed plans, running impact models to assess watershed conditions and resilience, and other municipal projects where protecting the natural environment needs to be considered. Anticipated project outcomes include: (1) improved understanding and the “mainstreaming” of climate data for use in natural environment-related applications, (2) use of consistent climate data and messaging around climate projections, and (3) improved awareness and availability of visuals and materials for practitioners on how to use climate data.
Project Title: Bringing For-Profit Companies into the Boundary Chain Model
Lead Investigator: Elizabeth Gibbons, Executive Director, American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP)
Synopsis: Private sector service providers are entering the adaptation and resilience field at an increased rate.  Through integration into the boundary chain model, private sector businesses have the opportunity to play a critical role scaling equitable, ethical, and actionable adaptation strategies. This project, Bringing the Private Sector into the Boundary Chain Model, will provide the foundational steps needed to ensure private sector service providers have access to and support in implementing the best available climate information available for the Great Lakes region. Led by the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, with guidance from Adaptation International, this project will: 1) survey private sector service providers on their existing climate data needs and applied services; 2) develop a replicable training program for service providers that highlights GLISA resources, tools, and methods; 3) facilitate the dissemination of GLISA’s processes for developing climate impact scenarios for current or future clients across the Great Lakes region; and, 4) generate a report on the current state of the adaptation field and state of adaptation market for adaptation services in the Great Lakes region. Between late 2017 and present, ASAP staff and members have observed both increased demand for climate services and shifting provider demographics in the climate adaptation and resilience service marketplace. This market growth signals that now is a critically important time to strengthen for-profit service providers’ competencies for using and building upon the climate data, information, services, and strategies that have been developed primarily by the public and social profit sectors.
Project Title: Calumet Connect – Modernizing the Calumet River Industrial Corridor
Lead Investigator: Angela Larsen, Community Planning Director, Alliance for the Great Lakes
Synopsis: Chicago’s Southeast Side faces some of the City’s worst economic and health conditions. Lack of public infrastructure investments, industrial pollution, and health inequities are most pronounced in these overburdened neighborhoods. Massive storms have caused extreme flooding in the Southeast Side and combined sewer overflows in the nearby Calumet River. As a result, residents are exposed to contaminated water-based illnesses, as well as to toxic chemicals from nearby industries. GLISA and the Alliance for the Great Lakes are teaming up to support the work of the Calumet Connect partners on the Southeast Side of Chicago. Calumet Connect partners are working with the Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Chicago Public Health Department (PHD) on two policy initiatives: the Calumet River industrial corridor modernization plan and a city-wide stormwater management strategy and maintenance program. The two initiatives are critical to addressing the economic, health, and disinvestment challenges facing Southeast Side communities. Calumet Connect partners will work to develop a multi-year advocacy strategy focused on passing and ensuring equitable implementation of policies that integrate equity, health, and climate into two public sector-led planning and policy initiatives. They will also identify a portfolio of local, state, and federal funding and financing to ensure the city-wide stormwater strategy being developed can also be implemented and maintained. This is critical to reverse the flow of city investments putting them back into the Southeast Side and to improve local health equity. Calumet Connect partners include organizations that lead local housing, mental health, youth organizing and environmental justice and advocacy work as well as. Also included are working groups that include advisory committee members, community stakeholders, academic and planning professionals, and local environmental advocacy groups (Calumet Connect Advisory Committee, Industrial Corridor Working Group, and Green Infrastructure Working Group).
Project Title: Climate Change Opportunities Phase I – Creating Two Methodologies for Anticipating Growth in the Great Lakes Region
Research Team: Elizabeth Gibbons, Executive Director, American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP)
Synopsis: Working together with leading practitioners and researchers from the City of Ann Arbor (MI), the National League of Cities, and Florida State University, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals will coordinate a two-year project developing two methodologies for anticipating future economic growth in the Great Lakes region.  Additionally, the proposed year 2 activities will provide an opportunity to pilot the developed methodologies with two communities from the Great Lakes region. To design useable and useful methodologies, the project will include a mixed approach of desk research, focus group meetings, and data analysis. Key project outputs will include: 1) a useable methodology to assess patterns of growth in three industries (tourism, real estate, and agriculture); and, 2) a rigorous and replicable methodology for projecting climate-related migration that municipalities can adopt. By building a robust project team and engaging representatives of industries and sectors from across the region, this project will ensure that leaders from businesses and municipal and state governments will have a better idea of how climate change is already influencing climate sensitive industries, and those leaders will be prepared to collaborate on a sustained effort to develop case studies and model practices to ensure the Great Lakes region is poised for sustainable and just economic growth into the next century.  This project is anticipated to catalyze additional investment and research into the topic of in-migration and regional preparedness and introduce a new narrative around climate change that focuses on potential benefits and opportunities, rather than negative impacts and risk.
Project Title: Expanding Capacity to Utilize Public Health Law to Advance Climate Adaption in the Great Lakes Region
Research Team: Jill Krueger, Northern Region Director, The Network for Public Health Law (By and Through its Fiscal Sponsor TSNE Missionworks)
Synopsis: As a result of this collaboration between GLISA, the Network for Public Health Law, and public health associations and departments in the region, public health practitioners will enhance their capacity to utilize public health law to address climate change in the Great Lakes Region. The project will consist of online webinars and a small number of in-depth, in-person trainings. The trainers will share historical and projected climate information relevant to the region and local area and will map the pathways through which these changes are likely to produce adverse health impacts (for example, extreme heat may contribute to heatstroke or even death, wildfires and air pollution may exacerbate respiratory illnesses). Trainers and participants will then examine state and local health departments’ current legal authority to address the human health impacts of climate change. Additionally, trainers will describe emerging opportunities to mitigate and adapt to climate change through law and policy. This review of existing legal authority, relevant legal strategies, and case studies from around the country will increase public health leaders’ readiness to serve as their communities’ “chief health strategist” in the face of climate change. Following the trainings, Network attorneys will offer limited legal technical assistance to public health leaders to further amplify their capacity to protect, promote, and improve health by enforcing and implementing current laws and working with partners to introduce innovative, evidence-based laws and policies.
Project Title: Great Lakes State Climate Change Summaries for Agriculture
Lead Investigator: Todd Ontl, Climate Adaptation Specialist, Michigan Technological University
Synopsis: Agricultural producers recognize and are concerned with the increased frequency of climate extremes, such as flooding, droughts, and late freezes. Timely communication of regionally-specific information that focuses on relevant agricultural commodities (crops, livestock, forestry) is critical for both increasing understanding of these changes as well as reducing the risks to producers. This project will create state-level agriculture-climate summaries for the eight states within the GLISA and USDA Midwest Climate Hub region (MN, WI, IA, MO, IL, IN, MI, OH). Stakeholder involvement in development of these summaries will ensure relevance of the information, including existing climate change issues and future potential problems based on important crops/livestock in each state. The products will be subsequently distributed to technical service providers, producers, and state entities via coordinated efforts between the Climate Hubs and State and University staff, including extension and agriculture experiment station partners. Impact of the documents will be assessed using download numbers and shares on various websites. Surveys will be conducted at conferences when the document is introduced to determine usefulness and likelihood to share the information with others.
Project Title: Advancing Climate Resilience in the Western Lake Superior Region
Research Team: Julie McDonnell, Coastal Program Specialist, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Synopsis: Duluth, Minnesota is a city on the coast of Lake Superior with nearly 90,000 residents and 43 streams flowing through the city. Significant flooding and damage from extreme precipitation events and high Lake Superior winds and waves have impacted the city’s infrastructure in recent years. This project aims to provide targeted technical assistance and facilitation to support Duluth climate action planning, and advance climate resilience for western Lake Superior region municipalities. Project outcomes include: 1) identified categories for climate action, potential sectors and institutions needed for partnering, existing and future financial resources and narratives to inspire uptake of climate action across various sectors, 2) increased understanding of community impacts and equity issues around climate change and adaptation solutions, 3) insights on process, outputs and outcomes to inform and inspire western Lake Superior regional municipalities to take further action, 4) elements of a draft Duluth climate action plan including project highlights and recommendations from presentations and prioritization, 5) increased connections among municipal leadership, staff, and technical assistance providers for further adaptation and resilience work; and 6) key lessons and suggestions for regional municipal leaders, sharing Duluth’s experience.
Project Title: Preparing Erie, Pennsylvania for Extreme Weather – What to do and Where to Start
Research Team: Sara Stahlman, Extension Leader, Pennsylvania Sea Grant
Synopsis: Erie County, Pennsylvania, which includes 76 miles of Lake Erie shoreline, Presque Isle State Park, the City of Erie, and eight other coastal municipalities, is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the short and long-term impacts of extreme weather and climate variability. These threats have the potential to harm residents, local infrastructure, and other community assets. To build resilience in Erie, Pennsylvania Sea Grant is working collaboratively with the Community Resilience Action Network of Erie (CRANE) and GLISA to engage community stakeholders within various sectors of Erie County to discover and document local climate hazards and develop workable solutions to address these climate and weather-related risks. This project is following the ‘Steps to Resilience’ outlined in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, to: 1) explore Erie’s hazards by hosting community engagement workshops to determine most relevant community assets and concerns, 2) assess vulnerability and risk by conducting a community vulnerability assessment to assign risk to each of the identified assets and, 3) investigate response options by compiling and prioritizing possible solutions. Results will be compiled into a best management practices document that will summarize the results of the working sessions and contain the action strategy recommendations decided upon by the community. This document will act as a roadmap for decision makers, planners, and local leaders so they know “what to do and where to start” to build resilience in Erie.
Project Title: Responding to Climate Change in the Diverse Shiawassee River Watershed
Lead Investigator: Lorraine Austin, Executive Director, Friends of the Shiawassee River
Synopsis: The impacts of climate change are made manifest in the Shiawassee River in two significant ways: 1) extreme storm events that cause a rapid rise in water volume/levels, and 2) summer droughts that lower water levels, presenting a stress to aquatic life and a challenge to recreational users of the river. The Friends of the Shiawassee River will hold three workshops in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network – 1) Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change (in Shiawassee County – partnering with the Shiawassee Conservation District), 2) Urban Impacts of Climate Change (in Genesee County – partnering with the Michigan Association of Planning), and 3) Wildlife Impacts of Climate Change (in Saginaw County – partnering with the USDI Fish and Wildlife Service/Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge). By targeting workshops to three different stakeholder groups, attendees will be more motivated to undertake mitigation and adaptation efforts geared to their specific interests. The three workshops will be promoted together, along with a multi-year website with updated data/information and networking opportunities. The Friends’ goal is to serve as a climate change information “hub” – alerting audiences about the linkages across the watershed and surveying populations about their understanding of local impacts of climate change. The Shiawassee River will ultimately serve as a common thread to tie diverse interest groups together for both climate change awareness and environmental action. Success will be measured by the number of attendees at workshops, visitors to the internet resources on climate change supplied by the Friends, and on-going inquiries and requests for information on the regional impacts of climate change and the local opportunities for mitigation and adaptation.
2015 Grant Recipients
Project Title: Development of an Adaptation Toolkit for Resiliency Champions at Businesses and Institutions in the West Michigan Region
Lead Investigator: Daniel Schoonmaker, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
Synopsis: Previous work to facilitate shared understanding of diverse climate resiliency needs and perspectives among interdisciplinary stakeholders identified barriers to introducing climate science to strategic planning and decision-making within businesses and institutions. This project will develop resources for resiliency champions to lead organizations through a vulnerability assessment informed by predicted industry impacts and historical climate data and projections, and establish systems to monitor and respond to identified threats and opportunities, as well as communicate with internal and external stakeholders. We will accomplish this by guiding four representative organizations in the West Michigan area through such an assessment. These pilot cases will serve as illustrative examples to other organizations in their industry networks and the community in general, encouraging use of the adaptation toolkit and awareness of climate risk among relevant decision-makers.
Project Title: Resilient Coastal Communities: Growing the Network and Building the Capacity of Local Leaders
Lead Investigator: Angela Larsen, Alliance for the Great Lakes
Synopsis: A needed next step to implementing a climate-informed adaptation strategy in ravine areas requires significant engagement of private residential landowners and local decision makers like locally elected officials who control or influence how land is used. Organizing and motivating these key audiences was articulated as an outreach need in the adaptation plan, and is critical to achieving community-wide implementation of upstream stormwater management practices like green infrastructure. Currently, neither municipal staff nor local community groups have fully engaged these audiences in identifying actions can be taken both individually and collectively to increase the adaptive capacity of their community through implementation of green infrastructure BMPs. A few communities have started to take some first steps, and working to build their capacity and share their success and lessons learned with their neighboring communities, including ravine communities across the border in Wisconsin, is needed.
2014 Grant Recipients
Project Title: A Climate Change Risks Assessment and Adaptation Strategy for York Region, Ontario
Lead Investigator: Stewart Dutfield, Ontario Climate Consortium
Synopsis: By building on previous work on municipal climate risk and vulnerability assessment by the Ontario Climate Consortium in the Region of Peel for the 2012-2013 round of GLISA funding, this project is intended to advance the following three overall objectives: (1) develop greater awareness and recognition of the importance and nature of climate change risks, vulnerabilities and need for adaptation among municipal staff and decision-makers; (2) create greater capacity to conduct risk and vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning across municipal management and service areas; and (3) produce detailed information on one of the highest priority risks within York Region as an example, or template, for adaptation planning in York Region. The project will provide identification of municipal management and service area risks in the York Region (climate hazards, impacts, and systems/components), a risk database populated with basic information on the management, service area risks, and trends on these risks, a refined protocol for York Region climate change risk analysis (suitable across Great Lakes), climate trends for variables to represent key hazards in York Region, and detailed characterization of the risks in municipal stormwater management.
Project Title: Using Future Scenarios to Identify Potential Policies for Climate Change Adaptation along Lake Ontario
Lead Investigator: Katherine Bunting-Howarth, NY Sea Grant/NECSC
Synopsis: This project will extend the results of a Lake Ontario scenario exercise completed in 2012 to assist the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) and its partners to update the Lake Ontario 2008 Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LaMP) while also providing similar information to inform local watershed plans.  During a two-day workshop, diverse stakeholders utilizing the scenarios, accompanied with alternate extreme climate precipitation projections and potential impacts on water resources and habitats, will brainstorm how they might react to four sets of future changes.  In the process, these stakeholders will discuss and determine what actions may be needed, the pros and cons of those actions and identify other needed data in order to assist the Lake Ontario basin to become more resilient to a changing climate.  These results will be packaged for LaMP stakeholders and watershed planners to consider when writing and updating their documents.
Project Title: On-Farm Water Recycling as an Adaptation Strategy for Drained Agricultural Land in the Western Lake Erie Basin
Lead Investigator: Jane Frankenberger, Purdue University
Synopsis: This project will evaluate the potential benefits of drainage water storage and recycling systems under future climate conditions by revisiting data from three wetland-reservoir-subirrigation systems constructed in the 1990s and monitored for 12 years. Benefits of the systems included yield increases due to subirrigation as well as reduced nutrient and sediment loads to receiving water. Both of these are expected to increase in future climate conditions. The project will also use future climate predictions to identify design and operational strategies that would be most beneficial in future systems. Opportunities and barriers to implementation will be investigated through engagement with drainage designers and installers and other key stakeholders in the region.
Project Title: Ready & Resilient: Climate Preparedness in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Lead Investigator: Roopali Phadke, Macalester College (with Science Museum of MN and Mayor’s Office of Saint Paul)
Synopsis: This project extends and deepens engagement with Saint Paul residents by focusing on two previously identified areas of need: more education and reinvigorated social networks. Besides for revising and updating the Ready & Resilient guide produced for the previous year’s work, a model “modern” climate disaster kit that participants can assemble at the training will be put together. Additionally, pilot projects will be created to select, support, and record the efficacy of ideas to address barriers faced by lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. The findings will be shared through an interactive website that includes a description of the model and a plan of implementation for other cities to use, as well as through academic papers and presentations including the Association of American Geographers in April 2015, the National Adaptation Conference in May 2015, and the American Psychological Association in Aug 2015.
Project Title: Sensitive Sites and Infrastructure Protocol
Lead Investigator: David Ullrich, Great Lakes T. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Synopsis: In response to the more frequent and intense weather around the Great Lakes region, the primary goal of this project is to help municipalities prepare for the next storm by understanding where their community’s vulnerable infrastructure is and having a plan for emergency responders to identify and secure it.  The secondary goal is to broadly disseminate the protocol and lessons learned from the pilot city so that more cities around and beyond the region can adopt the protocol and become better prepared.  The Sensitive Sites and Infrastructure Protocol will outline how to identify and secure sensitive sites such as water and wastewater treatment plants and electricity transformers that are susceptible in extreme weather; this project will also provide guidance on what steps can be taken to secure this vulnerable infrastructure. The protocol will be tested in a pilot city so that it can be refined and fine-tuned prior to broad dissemination.
Project Title: Implementing Forest and Water Climate Adaptation Solutions to Build the Resilience of Two Northwood Communities
Lead Investigator: Deb Kleinman, Model Forest Policy Program
Synopsis: Can rural and tribal communities increase the adaptive capacity of their forests, waters, and livelihoods by communicating climate science and engaging a broader, regional network of stakeholders to implement a climate adaptation plan? This project will explore this question through building the resilience of two Northwood communities to climate change, helping them to transition from science-based planning to implementation. The Menominee Conservation District and the Red Lake Nation Band of the Chippewa Indians are the two groups involved, both of who depend directly on the benefits of the ecologically and economically valuable Northwood forests. The Model Forest Policy Program will support these communities in addressing their governance challenges, as well as adopting a regional, multi-sectoral approach to achieve more effective climate adaptation implementation.
2013 Grant Recipients
Project Title: Helping Marina and Harbor Operators Respond to Climate Change
Lead Investigator: Jim Diana, Michigan Sea Grant

Private marinas and small municipal harbors are struggling to fund needed improvements. The recent trend towards low lake levels and increased storm surges caused by climate change only amplify this economic hardship. Though a variety of climate adaptation tools are available, they can be overwhelming to marina and harbor managers. Information overload and uncertainty about future lake levels can result in a lack of confidence and may deter responsive actions. Marina and harbor managers need planning assistance for maintenance, repair, dredging, and general management.

The question of how changing water levels could impact the coastal communities of the Great Lakes has been brought to the forefront by decision making bodies. This project will assist marina and harbor operators in sector-specific problem identification, decision making, and planning related to climate change adaptation. As well as develop an online training module to be introduced, developed, and tested at workshops targeting marina and harbor operators.

Project Title: Making it Personal: Diversity and Deliberation on Climate Adaptation
Lead Investigator: Roopali Phadke, Macalester College, Department of Environmental Studies

Climate vulnerabilities are distributed unevenly across races, ethnicities, classes, ages, incomes and genders. Health burdens are disproportionately located in urban heat islands with low tree canopy density. However, climate adaptation discussions generally involve a narrow group of stakeholders who represent higher education, municipal agencies and environmental NGOs. This project is driven by two profound shifts that Saint Paul residents will experience in the next thirty years: climate change and demographic transition. The Twin Cities are expected to experience growing racial diversity and population growth.

The objective of this project is to make climate adaptation “personal” for those who tend to remain outside of climate change planning discourses. The focus will be the emotional, social, and cultural values and practices that impact public understandings of and responses to climate change. The project will devise and test a neighborhood consensus conference model in Saint Paul, MN that converts the best available climate data into tangible, place-based scenarios in order to assess vulnerabilities and prioritize public investments. The project will also aim to foster the creation of self-sustaining social networks within Saint Paul.

Project Title: Implementation of a Coastal Vulnerability Assessment, Adaptation Strategies, and Adaptive Risk Management Metrics by Wisconsin and Illinois Land Managers into Ravine Restoration Practices and/or Land Use Decisions
Lead Investigator: Angela Larsen, Alliance for the Great Lakes

A series of ravines along the shoreline of Lake Michigan have become a major focus of conservationists in Northeast Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin. Restored ravines protect property values, drinking water quality, and recreational opportunities. They also decrease storm water flowing onto the beaches and into the lake, slowing erosion and decreasing water pollution. Most restoration scientists and coastal land/watershed managers agree that climate change phenomena will impact Great Lakes coastal communities. Still, there is considerable uncertainty as to the scope of the impacts on ravines, and therefore the appropriate management actions. This project provides an avenue for decision makers to implement strategies of adaptive risk management, by allowing them to co-develop, with technical experts as part of a local “knowledge network.”

The predicted outcomes of the project include a strengthened knowledge network of local entities who manage ravines from Illinois and Wisconsin and collaboratively developed, climate-smart adaptation strategies. Two pilot projects will allow local ravine managers to implement those strategies and integrate metrics into their existing restoration projects. The project will also promote “social learning” between affected stakeholders both locally and regionally to support continued outreach beyond the term of this grant.

Project Title: Supporting Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Planning through Community Participatory Strategic Foresight Scenario Development
Lead Investigator: Dean Fellman, Center for First Americans Forestlands

Climate change could weaken the connections between tribal traditional knowledge and the ecology of their homelands. Traditional knowledge is seen as an important contributor to climate adaptation planning for both American Indian communities and neighboring communities in the region. This project addresses the challenge of how specific tribes can adapt to climate change in ways that ensure the protection of tribal cultures and harness cultural resources, as well as integrate the best scientific resources about environmental change, address emerging social problems, and negotiate jurisdictional challenges unique to federally-recognized tribes.

The project explores two questions: (1) Can foresight processes be used to create viable climate adaptation scenarios that can help tribes build capacities in advance? And (2) Can foresight processes involving tribal leaders and natural resource staff in the agencies and departments of federally recognized tribes garner sufficient community involvement for building scenarios that reflect tribes’ cultures, social situations, knowledge needs and resources, and jurisdictional and legal complexities? To answer these questions, the project will initiate community stakeholder engagement processes of foresight for two to three tribal communities who are part of the network of the Center for First Americans Forestlands.

2012 Grant Recipients
Project Title: How Sensitive Are Agricultural Best Management Practices and Models to Climate Change? Framing Key Issues and Uncertainties with Expert Opinion
Lead Investigator: Dr. Kimberly Hall, Nature Conservancy
Synopsis: Conservation practices in the watersheds in the Great Lakes region focus on connecting agricultural and ecological systems together through best management practices (BMPs)to reduce environmental stress and affect policy changes. This project will study and assess the vulnerabilities of BMPs related to climate change to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of agriculturally focused conservation practices in the Great Lakes basin.
Project Title: Development of an Indicator Suite and Winter Adaptation Measures for the Chicago Climate Action Plan
Lead Investigator: Martin Jaffe, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
Synopsis: This project will formulate climate change indicators for local officials and planners to assist in more effective and efficient winter climate change adaptation decisions. This project will complement the strategies in the Chicago Climate Action Plan.
Project Title: Adapting to Climate Change and Variability: Planning Tools for Michigan Communities
Lead Investigator: Claire Layman, Michigan State University Extension
Synopsis: Climatologists predict that the American Midwest will be warmer and wetter with increased temperature variation and heavier precipitation events. This project will collaborate with two Michigan communities to determine vulnerabilities, strengths, and knowledge related to climate change to be resilient in the future by incorporating adaptation strategies into local land use master plans.
Project Title: Assessing and Communicating Risks from Climate Variability for the Michigan Tart Cherry Industry
Lead Investigator: Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station
Synopsis: This project will compile weather and climate information to provide the cherry industry with reliable adaptation resources and strategies. Research results will help the industry make choices concerning risk mitigation and resource appropriation, as well as foster an understanding of climate variability and extreme weather events.
Project Title: Climate Information to Support Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for the Great Lakes Basin Municipalities
Lead Investigator: Chandra Sharma, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
Synopsis: This project will pilot a method to create access to credible, locally-relevant climate data for several communities related to Lake Ontario in the Region of Peel, one of the most populous and urbanized areas of the Canadian Great Lakes basin. TRCA will recommend specific strategies and practices relevant to the regions studies.
Project Title: Making Climate-Resilient Communities Through a Watershed Approach
Lead Investigator: The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC)
Synopsis: Current efforts to create climate-resilient communities within the watershed involve understanding various climate scenarios, identifying best management practices, and analyzing case studies on adaptation strategies. The HRWC will focus on outreach and implementation strategies. This project will build on the tools created to broaden the geographic participation of the watershed, support participants with priority tools and strategies, and conduct an in-depth case study to develop adaptive capacity in the basin.
2011 Grant Recipients
Project Title: Assessing the impacts of climate variability and change on Great Lakes evaporation: Implications for decision making, adaptation, and water resource management
Research Team: John Lenters, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
John Anderton, Northern Michigan University
Peter Blanken, University of Colorado-Boulder
Christopher Spence, Environment Canada
Andrew Suyker, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Synopsis: Variations in Great Lakes water levels impact numerous sectors, including hydropower, navigation, recreation, aquatic ecosystems, and shoreline residents. This project will integrate and compare data from existing observational sites in Lakes Superior and Huron to assess the impacts of climate variability and change on evaporation rates.
Project Title: A modeling framework for informing decision-maker response to extreme heat events in Michigan under climate change
Research Team: Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Michigan State University
Ralph Levine, Michigan State University
Lorraine Cameron, Michigan Department of Community Health
Michael Beaulac, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Robert Wahl, Michigan Department of Community Health
Stuart Blythe, Michigan State University
Synopsis: This project will assess human health risks of extreme heat events in Michigan cities and create a dynamic modeling framework that tests policy and management options for reducing morbidity and mortality related to these events.
Project Title: An assessment of the implications of climate variability and change for Michigan’s tourism industry
Research Team: Sarah Nicholls, Michigan State University
Bas Amelung, Wageningen University
Donald Holecek, Michigan State University
Jim MacInnes, Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa
Robert Richardson, Portland State University
Synopsis: This project will assess the potential impacts of climate variability and change on the winter sports and state parks in Michigan. Researchers will interact directly with the winter sports industry and state park managers to identify vulnerabilities and options for adaptation.
Project Title: Predicting the impacts of climate change on agricultural yields and water resources in the Maumee River Watershed
Research Team: David Hyndman, Michigan State University
Anthony Kendall, Michigan State University
Synopsis: The Maumee River watershed encompasses areas of Southeast Michigan, Northeast Indiana, and Northwest Ohio. After meeting with stakeholders from this area, the researchers will develop a coupled crop-growth and hydrologic model to simulate scenarios of climate change impacts on crop yields and water resources across the watershed.
Project Title: Designing a decision support system for harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish in a changing climate
Research Team: William Taylor, Michigan State University
Abigail Lynch, Michigan State University
Synopsis: Whitefish are an ecologically and economically important species in the Great Lakes. Researchers will work with stakeholders to assess decision support tools for Great Lakes lake whitefish management in the context of climate change.

Evaluation of GLISA’s Small Grants Program: 2011-2015

This 2021 report evaluates the first ten years of GLISA’s Adaptive Boundary Chain Model. Members of the GLISA team interviewed Principal Investigators (PIs) and other relevant organizational contacts for 16 small grants projects funded between 2011-2015 to explore what worked and what could be improved in future iterations of the Small Grants Program. A second round of interviews was carried out in the summer of 2019 to understand longer-term impacts associated with the projects.

Both sets of interviews aimed to understand the drivers of success in terms of disseminating climate information and long-term impact and lessons learned to inform the implementation of future small grant competitions. Overall, the data collected through the interviews and surveys show that the Small Grants Program met its main two goals. First, it has allowed GLISA to engage with a broad number and diversity of stakeholders in different geographies and sectors in the Great Lakes region to increase awareness of climate information, co-produce actionable knowledge, and build partnerships. Second, it allowed GLISA to adapt by growing and deepening the Small Grants Program and its engagement with stakeholders from one competition to the next. The first round of data collection in 2016 already influenced the way we designed our 2019 competition.

Read the report.