Small Grants Competition

2019 Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Small Grants Competition


Updated September 5, 2019

The Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) is proud to announce the 12 winners of its 2019 small grants competition! A press release annoucing the awards is available here

GLISA is awarding $20,000 each to 11 organizations to partner with us to address the risks of climate variability and change in the Great Lakes region. Grantees will engage directly with decision makers from a diverse range of sectors and communities to implement climate adaptation projects in the Great Lakes using GLISA’s existing climate information services.

The goals of GLISA’s 2019 competition are to sustain and strengthen GLISA’s network of boundary organizations, foster close interaction between and among GLISA knowledge brokers and grantees, learn what GLISA products and services are ready to scale-up in the region and beyond, and to increase GLISA’s impact in the Great Lakes. Funded one-year projects are a partnership between GLISA and the grantee.

Projects will start in two phases, 6 in fall 2019 and 5 in spring 2020. The 2019 small grant competition winners include (in alphabetical order by start date):


Starting November 1, 2019:

  • Alliance for the Great Lakes
    • Project title: Calumet Connect - Modernizing the Calumet River Industrial Corridor 
    • Principal Investigator: Angela Larsen, Community Planning Director
    • Project partners: Southeast Environmental Task Force
    • Abstract: 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).
  • American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP)
    • Project title: Bringing For-Profit Companies into the Boundary Chain Model
    • Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Gibbons, Executive Director
    • Project partners: Adaptation International 
    • Abstract: 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.
  • Friends of the Shiawassee River
    • Project title: Responding to Climate Change in the Diverse Shiawassee River Watershed
    • Principal Investigator: Lorraine Austin, Executive Director
    • Abstract: 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.
    • Michigan State University Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
      • Project title: Using Climate Data to Better Manage Within-Field Unstable Yield Zones in Row-Crops
      • Principal Investigator: Bruno Basso, University Foundation Professor
      • Abstract: This proposal aims to analyze the effect of climate variability and change on crop yields in yield stability zones (particularly the unstable zones) in the Great Lakes region and to develop improved strategies for tactical (within season) and strategic N management decisions using climate data and information. We propose to examine this with a combination of remotely-sensed data and detailed output from deterministic crop simulation models for historical and projected future time frames at test sites in Michigan. The proposed new management protocol would increase both the climate resilience of growers and the economic and environmental sustainability of the region’s agricultural sector. The Basso Lab has formed strong relationships with groups working in the agriculture industry. Our partnership with these groups has given us the opportunity to work hands-on with farmers’ applications through the analysis of their geospatial data. As a result of this project, stakeholders will able to make better management decision on the unstable zones of the field, which are primarily driven by climate.
    • Michigan State University Extension and AgBioResearch Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center
      • Project Title: Using Impact Scenarios and Dialogue to Enhance the Climate Resilience of Organic Dry Bean Production Systems in Michigan
      • Principal Investigator: James Dedecker, Director
      • Project partners: MSU Dept. of Plant, Soil & Micro Sciences, MSU Bean Breeding and Genetics Laboratory, MSU Dept. of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences 
      • Abstract: Increasingly erratic weather associated with climate change is causing more uncertainty and expanding certain types of risk for Michigan farmers.  However, climate risk is not equal across cropping systems. Pulse crops, like dry beans, are expected to be relatively resilient under projected climate changes due to their genetic diversity, developmental flexibility, C3 photosynthesis and capacity for nitrogen fixation.  Furthermore, research suggests that Michigan may be a ‘climate haven’ for dry beans where climate risk is low compared to other production environments, or perhaps dry bean production may even benefit from climate change. Yet, there will likely be barriers to growers capitalizing on climate change, such as variable precipitation and more frequent summer droughts. Michigan is the second largest producer of dry edible beans in the U.S.  In addition to growers, the Michigan dry bean industry includes an entire value chain of breeders, input suppliers, agronomists, buyers and processors represented by the Michigan Bean Commission. GLISA is partnering with researchers at Michigan State University, led by Dr. James DeDecker, to help the Michigan dry bean industry understand and adapt to climate change by developing climate impact scenarios. Our project will occur in three phases including: 1) needs assessment with industry stakeholders, 2) modeling and impact scenario development, and 3) presentation of a scenario report and potential adaptation strategies to industry stakeholders for evaluation.  With this information, the Michigan dry bean industry will be better equipped to leverage climate change for the benefit of the entire value chain, consumers, and the environment.
    • Michigan Technological University
      • Project title: Great Lakes State Climate Change Summaries for Agriculture
      • Principal Investigator: Todd Ontl, Climate Adaptation Specialist
      • Project partners: USDA Midwest Climate Hub, USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub, NOAA Central Region Climate Services Program 
      • Abstract: 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.

    Starting April 1, 2020:

    • American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP)
      • Protect title: Climate Change Opportunities Phase I - Creating Two Methodologies for Anticipating Growth in the Great Lakes Region
      • Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Gibbons, Executive Director
      • Project partners: City of Ann Arbor (MI), Florida State University
      • Abstract: 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.
    • The Network for Public Health Law (by and through its fiscal sponsor TSNE MissionWorks)
      • Project title: Expanding Capacity to Utilize Public Health Law to Advance Climate Adaption in the Great Lakes Region
      • Principal Investigator: Jill Krueger, Northern Region Director
      • Project partners: Great Lakes Public Health Coalition, Wisconsin Public Health Association 
      • Abstract: 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 heat stroke 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. 
    • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
      • Project title: Preparing Duluth Community Sectors for the Changing Climate
      • Principal Investigator: Julie McDonnell, Coastal Program Specialist
      • Project partners: MN Dept. of Public Safety-Homeland Security and Emergency Management, University of MN Duluth - Minnesota Sea Grant, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, Minnesota Department of Health 
      • Abstract: Duluth, Minnesota is a city on the coast of Lake Superior with nearly 90,000 people and 43 streams flowing through the city. Significant flooding and damage from extreme precipitation events and high Lake Superior winds and waves has impacted the city’s infrastructure in recent years. This project has the goal of preparing to maintain public health and safety during extreme precipitation and storm events, while also taking a preventive approach to reduce risk for the community.  This project aims to improve local understanding and application of climate projections and potential impacts through the use of scenarios. Stakeholders working in sectors of local natural resource management, emergency management, public health, and utilities will learn about climate projections for Minnesota and participate in multi-disciplinary scenario exercises of potential extreme precipitation and storm events. Consideration of scenarios and localized impacts will support community sector leaders and overall community resilience. Project outcomes include: 1) increased knowledge and understanding of sector-specific impacts of the changing climate, particularly awareness of projections and possible local impacts from increased extreme precipitation and storm events; 2) actionable knowledge of gaps, needs, and action steps to support and maintain a resilient community within the context of Minnesota’s changing climate; 3) increased awareness of other sector’s activities, concerns, personnel, and challenges toward maintaining a resilient community within the context of a changing climate; and, 4) summary sheets with highlights and recommendations from educational presentations and scenario exercises that can be built into plans.
    • Pennsylvania Sea Grant
      • Project title: Preparing Erie, Pennsylvania for Extreme Weather - What to do and Where to Start
      • Principal Investigator: Sara Stahlman, Extension Leader
      • Project partners: Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development, Environment Erie, Green Building Alliance, Erie County Dept. of Planning, Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection
      • Abstract: 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.  
    • Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
      • Project title: Applying Climate Information to Build Resilience: Translating Technical Results into Practical Tools for Community Decision Makers
      • Principal Investigator: Glenn Milner, Project Manager
      • Project partners: Regional Municipality of Durham, Natural Environment Climate Change Collaborative, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority 
      • Abstract: 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. 


    Proposal Process and Timeline:

    The call for letters of intent was released on March 20. Letters of intent were due on April 12th, and were required to be eligible to apply for a 2019 GLISA small grant. GLISA evaluated all letters and invited select teams to submit a full proposal. All applicants were notified the week of May 13, and full proposals from invited teams were due on June 14th at 5pm Eastern. The call for full proposals and submissions instructions were sent directly to invited teams. Full proposal applicants were notified of final decisions in late July. 

    Review the Call for Letters of Intent and the FAQ document detailing questions and answers during the first phase. 

    For general questions, please email GLISA Program Manager Jenna Jorns (