Great Lakes Energy People Fund, Deadline Feb. 1

Great Lakes Energy members help to enhance the quality of life for people in our communities through the People Fund. Bills of participating members are “rounded up” to the next dollar amount and grants are awarded to non-profit organizations and charitable activities throughout our service area. Grants are awarded by three independent Boards of Directors representing three geographical regions – south, central and north. There are no overhead costs – 100 percent of the money collected is returned to our communities.

How are People Fund grants invested?

In order to have the greatest impact on people within the Great Lakes Energy service area, the People Fund will generally invest funds in project or activities that:

  • Are one-time in nature rather than ongoing or continuous
  • Benefit a large number of people
  • Leverage funds from other sources
  • Distribute funds to individuals or families in crisis
  • Help programs increase their capacity to deliver services
  • What communities does the People Fund serve?

The GLE People Fund will make every effort to award grants in a manner that is representative of and sensitive to the diversity of needs in 26 counties served in western and northern Michigan, from Kalamazoo to the Mackinac Straits. Funds will be invested in the areas from which they were collected.

View our recent Annual Report for more details.

Who is eligible?

Funds are generally awarded to non-profit organizations or groups for specific humanitarian, educational and community development purposes. A portion of the funds may be awarded to organizations that have the capacity to use the funds for individuals or families in crisis. Grants are not given to individuals.

To use its funds most effectively, the People Fund will generally not award grants for: normal operating expenses of established programs; annual fundraising campaigns; political campaigns; loans; religious activities; endowment funds; or deficit spending.

The Great Lakes Energy People Fund, regardless of the region, will not fund continuing school projects.

Faith-based organizations may receive funding for projects only if the organization provides services to all community members, regardless of the community member’s religious affiliation or participation.

When are grants awarded?

There are three grant cycles each year. Grants are typically awarded six weeks after the grant cycle deadline. The grant application deadlines are:

  • February 1
  • June 1
  • October 1

How do I apply for a grant?

Download a grant application.

Be sure to review the Annual Report to ensure your organization serves one of our grant regions.  The annual report is also helpful in determining the average grant amounts that are given to organizations. Also review the grant guidelines to ensure you are applying for a grant that qualifies. All grant applications must be returned by mail, read the instructions on the application for more information.

Great Lakes Energy People Fund, Deadline Feb. 1

Michigan Revolving Loan Fund Updates

As the SRF and SWQIF funds affect so many, the proposed changes to the SRF merit a post even though the changes are still in the discussion stage.  An advisory committee has submitted a report with recommended changes to the current program.

The recommendations in this report are premised on the need for a policy approach that emphasizes strategic investment of dollars in vital infrastructure to protect water quality as well as the creation of more long-term, self-sustained funding. There are two parts to this policy strategy.

Part 1: Creation of a state grant program and expanded use of a state loan program to stimulate investments that protect infrastructure assets and reduce long-term costs to the public.

Part 2: Institution of reforms to the existing SRF program to stimulate investments in large scale sewer system improvement projects that address chronic water quality problems.

Part 1 – Reducing the cost of infrastructure and increasing investment in critical water quality protection through creation of a state grant program and expanded use of a state loan program

Michigan needs to invest much more heavily in the management of its sewer infrastructure assets. This keeps systems in good condition rather than allowing them to deteriorate to the point where they become extremely costly to repair or replace.  The State also needs to facilitate the establishment of dedicated revenue streams that are based on the actual cost of services provided. Given the fiscal condition of local governments, incentivizing these actions through grant funding is critical.

Part 1 Recommendations

  • Remaining funds from Proposal 2 of 2002 (approximately $654 million) should be allocated over a five year period. This should be phased so that more of the funding is available in the later years.
  • In each funding cycle, 50% of the funds available should be targeted toward implementing projects in a grant program consistent with Part 1 of this report and 50% for a loan program. Both should be implemented under the Strategic Water Quality Initiatives Fund (SWQIF), with provision to adjust this allocation in any given year based on demand.
  • The loan program created under the SWQIF should be as simple as possible. The DEQ and the legislature should take steps to ensure that the state’s loan program does not suffer the same ills as the federal program.
  • The State must ensure that federal capitalization grants to the SRF are fully captured so no available dollars are left on the table.  State match for these grants should be provided through the general fund. However, in the event that this funding source is unavailable in any given year, a portion of the Proposal 2 funds should be designated as match for the federal capitalization grant.
  • Bonds from Proposal 2 of 2002 should be used to provide grants to local governments for:
    • Design, development and implementation of asset management plans or capital improvement programs for sanitary sewer and storm sewer infrastructure,
    • Development of stormwater management plans or programs,
    • Development and implementation of stormwater utilities, or
    •  Planning and design of sewer projects (similar to the grant program previously authorized by the legislature using Proposal 2 bond funds).
  • The grant application process should be kept as simple as possible.  Projects that meet eligibility criteria should be funded on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Legislation describing the acceptable manner for creation of a stormwater utility consistent with the Michigan Supreme Court’s Bolt vs. City of Lansing decision needs to be adopted.

Part 2 – Increasing use of the State Revolving Fund program by streamlining requirements in the existing SRF program

The goal of the recommendations in this category is to reduce the administrative burden on applicants and the DEQ so the process is easier and less costly to administer. This in turn will result in a greater number of projects being funded.

Part 2 Recommendations

Primary recommendation: DEQ should work with a committee of stakeholders to revise the SRF program, using a process improvement approach, to ensure that a thorough list of recommendations is developed and appropriately vetted.

Part 2 Recommendations for DEQ and its stakeholder group to consider:

  • Revise the pre-application meeting process to allow potential applicants to evaluate the likelihood of funding prior to incurring significant costs.
  • Evaluate and revise the criteria for selecting priority projects.
  • Develop a checklist to determine which elements need to be addressed in the Project Plan for a specific application.
  • Review the public participation requirements and consider options other than the mandatory requirement for a formal public hearing, with a transcript, prior to submitting the Project Plan.
  • To the maximum extent possible, eliminate requirements to provide information on other state and federal laws and regulations for conformity.
  •  Create special financial incentives for “economic hardship” applicants, similar to those currently provided in the Drinking Water Revolving Fund program.
  •  If funds available exceed demand in any given year, the Committee urges the DEQ Director to lower interest rates in the subsequent funding cycle.

These are highlights from the Executive Summary. You can view the entire document here:

Michigan Revolving Loan Fund Updates