Joyce Program Environment

Working to solve the long-term environmental challenges that threaten the next generation in the Great Lakes region

For more than two decades, the Joyce Foundation has been a leading foundation funder of policy work related to the Great Lakes. We are working to address three of the region’s critical long-term environmental challenges: climate change, the safety and accessibility of the water we drink and the health of the Great Lakes.

Climate change is the largest intergenerational environmental threat in our region. Great Lakes states are at a pivotal moment to dramatically reduce the emissions that drive climate change, while also creating economic opportunity and improving people’s health. Moreover, this region emits nearly 20 percent of all US climate pollution, so gains here are essential to national progress.

More than 40 million people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, and protecting the Lakes is central to the region’s environmental health, economic vitality, and very identity. In our region, climate change is causing more intense storms and increasing the variability of Great Lakes’ water levels. These patterns increase polluted runoff and stress aging water systems. While all communities face water challenges, the most severe impacts fall on people from communities that have lacked investment because of structural racism or other barriers.

To respond to these challenges, Joyce will support efforts to put Great Lakes states on a path to achieve just, equitable, carbon-free electric power systems by 2040. We will also seek to ensure all people in the Great Lakes region have clean water from lake to tap by supporting policy to address threats, improve infrastructure, and remedy water disparities in communities of color. In all our grants, we will prioritize projects that are guided by the perspectives of people impacted by the environmental issues being addressed.

Climate Solutions

Shifting to non-carbon sources of electric power is essential to eliminating global warming pollution – both directly by reducing the burning of fossil fuels in power plants, and indirectly as the transportation, industrial, building heating, and other sectors switch to electricity. There is positive technological, economic, and—in some Great Lakes states—policy momentum behind transitioning to carbon-free electric power. Yet, no states in our region are more than about halfway to achieving complete electric sector decarbonization, and some still get 80 or 90 percent of their electricity from fossil fuels. Joyce will support work on clean energy policy in Great Lakes states to secure long-term commitments to 100 percent carbon-free electricity.

Goal

To put Great Lakes states on a path to achieve just, equitable, carbon-free electric power systems by 2040.


Objectives

Great Lakes & Drinking Water

One of every five gallons of fresh water on the surface of the planet is found in the Great Lakes, which provide clean, abundant drinking water for 40 million people in our region. Yet the future health of the lakes is far from assured, given major threats to their physical, chemical, and biological integrity. Public and private decisions made in the next decade will likely determine whether the Great Lakes will be healthy enough to provide for the next generation as they have provided for us.

Protecting the health of our region depends on protecting the health of the Great Lakes and the water systems that serve our communities. The Great Lakes and Drinking Water focus area will accelerate actions to protect the region’s freshwater, upgrade our water infrastructure, and improve access to safe, affordable drinking water. We will pursue two initiatives, with most efforts focused in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Goal

To ensure all people in the Great Lakes region have clean water from lake to tap by supporting policy to address threats, improve infrastructure, and remedy water disparities in communities of color.


Objectives

What We Fund

We focus on initiatives that make an impact on the Great Lakes region.

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How To Apply

Learn about our submission process for applying for a grant.

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Research & Reports

Explore our research & reports on Environment.

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