The Environment

ENVIRONMENT (& EDUCATION) GOAL #1: Assure access to experiential environmental education for public school students that is regular, systematic, integrated with curricula, and connected with “real world” community initiatives such as Grand River restoration, renewable energy & efficiency, water conservation and protection, addressing climate change, wildlife habitat conservation and sustainable food systems.

Illustrative grants: Blandford Nature Center – Use 143 acres of differing ecosystems, a small farm, and a wildlife education center to connect students to nature in meaningful ways; New City Neighbors  – Employ students in social enterprise involving food systems; West Michigan Environmental Action Council – Advocate and collaborate with other local and regional partners for environmental education with a focus on water quality and biodiversity policy; Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds – Engage urban youth in projects reducing urban and agricultural run-off pollution of two Grand River watersheds.

ENVIRONMENT GOAL #2: Develop and implement long-term strategy to restore, protect, and make available for appropriate uses by all the lower Grand River watershed, including restoration of the namesake rapids in downtown Grand Rapids.

Illustrative grants:  Grand Rapids Whitewater – Restore Grand River and namesake rapids in downtown GR; City of Grand Rapids – Public planning process for land use along restored Grand River, especially neighborhoods of color; Grand Rapids Public Museum – Experiential Grand River watershed learning lab that will serve thousands of students each year; Grand Valley Metro Council – Lower Grand River watershed habitat restoration and farmland conservation.

ENVIRONMENT GOAL #3: Assure Grand Rapids continues to be a national and international leader in its commitment to sustainable development, i.e. “Economicology.”

Illustrative grants: West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum  – Incorporate equity into sustainable business strategies; Local First – Align local business community with pressing social and environmental challenges; Green Building Council of West Michigan – Promote LEED certification and launch “2030 District” for sustainable commercial buildings; Kendall College of Art & Design – Wege Prize for sustainable solutions to “wicked” problems; Aquinas College – New science building that will house “Center for Economicology.”

Stories about the Wege Foundation's Commitment to the Environment