Prototype Solutions

The Great Lakes Protection Fund is supporting action-oriented projects to design, deploy, and evaluate new prototype solutions to important challenges facing our ecosystem:

  • increasingly large rain events,
  • under-investment in water infrastructure,
  • nutrient pollution and harmful algae blooms,
  • threats posed by potential and existing invasive species, and
  • adapting to the demographic and economic changes in our region.

These challenges are at the root of impairments to water quality, altered flow regimes and detrimental shifts in the ecology of the basin.

The Fund believes that advances in the real-time management of water, in integrating natural and built water management systems, in designing pay-for-performance financing, and in machine learning and autonomous control can be combined to create new solutions to these big challenges. The Fund supports teams to use these strategies to demonstrate improvement to ecosystem health and achieve growing impact by the time Fund support expires.

These projects are collaborative efforts that test scalable regional actions to protect and restore Great Lakes health. The most successful prototypes combine technologists, conservation leaders, water managers, academic talent, and commercial partners as members of a team well-positioned to advance their strategy and drive change at the scale necessary to create system-wide impact.

To further enhance these efforts, we are looking for project teams that will try something new, engaging people who have never likely teamed up before, and build solutions that make better sense to everyone. Showing how these strategies can be done, in real places, is more powerful than desktop research, policy analysis, or planning activities alone.

We want to find, and fund, people to lead the way. The Fund is interested in your best ideas, even if you feel they may not be preproposal ready.

If you are interested in participating in a project, being an expert reviewer, or offering advice to the Fund or a project team, enter your information into our talent bank survey. If you want to explore an idea—even if it may not seem to fit with these challenges—or discuss a potential project, email us at Conversations are encouraged in advance of submitting preproposals.

The Fund will not support advocacy campaigns, public works projects, compliance obligations or lobbying.