EGLE-backed ‘Green’ Challenge Opens Doors to Sustainability, Fellowships

Jeff Johnston
EGLE Public Information Officer
[email protected], 517.231.9304


Michigan Green Communities launches Accelerator Cohort for networking, technical assistance

ANN ARBOR, MichiganThe Michigan Green Communities (MGC) Challenge, an annual benchmarking program that helps communities measure their progress toward sustainability, is open through March 31, 2023. Local governments participating in the Challenge receive free technical assistance and peer learning opportunities through the MGC Accelerator Cohort and Catalyst Leadership Circle (CLC).

The MGC program, funded by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), launched the Accelerator Cohort this year, a free networking and technical assistance program for Bronze- and Silver-certified MGC communities. This cohort helps municipalities and counties accelerate their progress in embedding environmental sustainability in their operations, practices, and policies and move toward Gold-level MGC Challenge certification.

The Accelerator Cohort will first address green infrastructure – features such as green or vegetated roofs and walls, stormwater infrastructure, rain gardens, permeable pavements and surfaces, cisterns, rainwater collection and reuse, native landscaping, and more – through hands-on exercises with subject matter experts from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Lawrence Technological University, and other partners, identifying relevant green infrastructure solutions and zoning reforms needed enact those solutions. Once communities complete this green infrastructure module, they will identify another sustainability subject to address as a group. Funding for this technical assistance component of the MGC program comes from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

“We’re thrilled that we can partner with EGLE and the MEDC to bring valuable technical assistance to multiple communities at once to tackle big environmental issues, all at no cost to the communities,” said Danielle Beard, MGC program coordinator.

So far, Oakland County and the cities of Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Birmingham, Ludington, Livonia, and Grand Haven have committed to participating in the Accelerator Cohort. Additional communities can join as they complete the MGC Challenge.

In partnership with MGC and also funded by EGLE, the CLC provides a regular forum for Silver and Gold MGC communities to convene, peer network, and share resources on advanced sustainability topics. Meeting every other month, mostly virtually, the Circle’s agenda items are driven by the group’s interests. External experts, EGLE representatives, and resource connections help CLC communities find and sort opportunities, funding, and tools.

CLC Fellowship

By participating in the CLC, communities can also expand their office capacity and work with a graduate-level scholar during the CLC Fellowship. This summer program matches communities with students, attending institutions across the state, and a technical advisor to complete an advanced sustainability project. Other communities across Michigan can use the fellowships’ end deliverables to reproduce results in their jurisdictions. Last year, Fellows completed nine projects spanning topics from deconstruction ordinances to impervious surface mapping to resident communication strategies. The University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute website has full project descriptions.

A CLC community participant had this to say in an anonymous survey: “This experience was an excellent way to support a project that our city did not previously have the capacity to explore. The deliverables were professional and a great opportunity to present research-based solutions to City leadership.”

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