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An Evaluation of Sustain Our Great Lakes: A Report Prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

June 1, 2013

The Headwaters Group Philanthropic Services, in partnership with Edward W. Wilson Consulting and Coastal Restoration Consultants, Inc., conducted an evaluation of Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) covering the period 2006 through 2011. The research included site visits to 20 selected project sites, a survey of grantees, and interviews with SOGL's partners and informed observers of the program. The evaluation concluded that SOGL's strategic decisions have been sound and strategic and that its grantmaking program has been well executed. Among the grants that are likely to yield the greatest long-term environmental benefits are those supporting the conversion of uplands to wetlands and hydrological modifications to existing wetlands. Of the many weed control projects supported by SOGL, the ones that are most likely to be effective are those that detect and eradicate early stage invasions before they become established. SOGL has also funded a range of connectivity projects that are likely to confer important environmental benefits as long as they are properly maintained and as long as sufficient care is taken to assure that non-native invasive species are not allowed to extend their ranges. By funding relatively labor-intensive habitat restoration projects, SOGL is helping to create jobs and in the longer term is making economic contributions by strengthening sport fisheries, enhancing opportunities for outdoor recreation, and lowering water treatment costs. In some cases, SOGL investments are playing important roles in larger community and economic development efforts. The evaluation offered a series of recommendations aimed at: improving project planning and design, ensuring adequate post-project maintenance, removing barriers to funding complex projects, building knowledge about effective restoration approaches in the Great Lakes region, and helping grantees prepare for the effects of climate change.

A Study of McKnight's Mississippi River Program: Executive Summary

December 15, 2009

Assesses McKnight's program and funding history to improve water quality, strengthen advocacy, and conserve land; legal and political contexts; and findings and accomplishments. Recommends focusing on specific issues and threats, including farm pollution.

Plotting a Future Course on the Mississippi River: An Assessment of The McKnight Foundation’s Mississippi River Program

December 1, 2009

Research and recommendations which informed the 2009 revision of McKnight's Mississippi River program guidelines.

Trends in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funding 2003-2006

August 28, 2008

Making strategic and effective grantmaking decisions is not easy. It requires thoughtful analysis. To bring new information and wisdom to philanthropy supporting sustainable agriculture and food system reform, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Kellogg) and the funder collaborative Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) commissioned Headwaters Group Philanthropic Services (Headwaters) to collect and synthesize funding and trends data. The goal in tracking funding trends is to understand who is giving within the community, to what issues, and at what levels. This comprehensive overview is intended to help funders understand gaps and ways to fill them, opportunities for leveraging resources, and ways to build successful strategic alliances with public and private partners. Headwaters worked in collaboration with Virginia Clarke, SAFSF's coordinator, to create this report. It builds on and compares information created in a 2003 funding analysis undertaken by Headwaters while at the same time creating a new baseline of information and a streamlined process that will allow for easier tracking and more in-depth analysis.

Traveling Upstream: Improving Water Quality of the Mississippi River

August 3, 2005

In 2004, McKnight hired Headwaters Group Philanthropic Services, LLC, (Headwaters) to research and assess water quality issues on the Mississippi River. In an iterative process that included a literature review and confidential interviews with 19 state and federal agencies and 24 nonprofits (Appendix A), Headwaters: Assessed water quality tracking data that could possibly be used as a tool for measuring progress in water quality efforts.Identified successful strategies for improving water quality or its precursor conditions.Identified systemic challenges to improving water quality on the mainstem of the River.Highlighted inter- and intra-state inconsistencies in the application of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and associated regulations. The results of these efforts are summarized in the following findings: 1. Water quality tracking data cannot adequately measure progress. 2. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) fails to address interstate inconsistencies and shortcomings. 3. CWA focus misses critical pollutant sources and remedies. 4. Lack of coordinated, strategic water quality focus by Mississippi River institutions.