West Michigan Environmental Action Council Announces You Are Here Campaign

West Michigan Environmental Action Council today publicly announced the You Are Here campaign, an $862,000 fundraising effort and celebration of West Michigan’s natural resources.  The campaign will support local initiatives to protect freshwater resources, shape regional priorities around energy, create a new generation of environmental leaders, and improve WMEAC facilities.

The announcement took place at a special event for WMEAC members at the new Rapid Operations Center in downtown Grand Rapids.

WMEAC has been our region’s preeminent resource for environmental education and advocacy since 1968.  Some of its more notable accomplishments include successful efforts to ban the pesticide DDT, the writing and passage of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act and the launch of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.  It is today known best for its highly visible energy optimization, water protection and environmental policy programs, particularly its stormwater management initiative and close work with municipalities and other partners on water and energy issues.

Recognizing a need to significantly expand its efforts to meet today’s environmental challenges, WMEAC leadership initiated the You Are Here campaign earlier this year to emphasize the local nonprofit’s connection to West Michigan residents who value environmental protection and preservation, while highlighting programs that will directly impact the quality of life for regional residents.

For the past several months, a team of 21 volunteers have been seeking foundation, corporate, and individual charitable support for WMEAC.  During this time, the You Are Here campaign has raised over $440,000 in gifts and pledges for the effort.  Lead donors include the Wege Foundation, Dyer Ives Foundation, and the City of Grand Rapids, via the U.S. Mayors’ Council National Mayors’ Climate Change Award.

“This campaign ensures that our region will have the very best in environmental advocacy and programming,” said David LaGrand, local attorney and one of the co-chairs of the campaign, along with retired Congressman, Vern Ehlers.  “Moreover, we’re training the next generation of environmental leaders, a legacy that West Michigan can be proud of.”

Rachel Hood, Executive Director, described the campaign as important for an organization that will be celebrating its 45th anniversary next year.  “WMEAC has played a critical role in making West Michigan the desirable community it is today.  Our founders recognized how they were holding this place and its natural resources in trust for future generations.  We want to make sure that our children enjoy the same beautiful lakes, rivers, and forests that we enjoy.”

The You Are Here campaign has three primary objectives: (1) provide funding for water quality and energy conservation educational programs and advocacy, (2) fund internships as young adults become trained to be the next generation of environmental leaders, and (3) reconfigure WMEAC offices and improve technology resources for the best use of existing space.

“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the community phase of this campaign that will provide local donors with the opportunity to support WMEAC and its mission,” said LaGrand.

LaGrand and Ehlers expressed their appreciation for early leadership commitments to the fundraising effort from community donors thus far.

“We now hope that the greater community will embrace this campaign to help us raise the additional funds needed to complete this worthwhile endeavor,” said Ehlers. “Together, we can improve our environment and our children’s chances for living in a clean and safe West Michigan.”

Individuals or organizations interested in learning more about the campaign can do so at youareheregr.com.

The You Are Here campaign is a fundraising effort, but it’s also a celebration of West Michigan’s natural resources. Through the duration of the campaign, WMEAC will be sharing some of its favorite images and other representations of West Michigan natural resources and green living. WMEAC is asking local residents to share with the campaign what they think makes West Michigan special in the form of photos, essays, poetry, video and art.  Submissions made on youareheregr.com will be entered to win a You Are Here campaign T-shirt.

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