A step-by-step look at the process of partnering with us.
See below for details, documents and a timeline.


  • Start a Conversation
  • Preproposals

  • Staff Review
  • Projects Committee Decisions

  • Full Proposal Invitation
  • Full Proposal

  • Expert and Staff Review
  • Revise Proposal

  • Staff Review
  • Board Decision
  • Signed Grant Agreement and Intellectual Property Policy
Initial conversations not included, the process can take 6-8 months.

Start a Conversation

We strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss an idea, whether fully formed or not, as a first step. Email us at startaconversation@glpf.org.

Our goal is to build something—together. You have an idea and a strategy in mind and we have a basin-wide perspective and experience launching new initiatives.

Please visit our funding guidelines and also consider the following questions before you pick up the phone or send us an email:

  • How is your work action-oriented and how will it lead to meaningful benefits for the Great Lakes ecosystem as a whole?
  • How does the team you are pulling together incorporate members from a range of sectors and with a diversity of perspectives, skills and expertise?
  • How will your work create novel partnerships, synergies, and/or tools?
  • How will the impact from your work be on a path to scale-up regionally before Fund support lapses?

Even if you don’t have concrete answers to all of these questions, we encourage you to contact our program staff to discuss your project idea.

This is one of several iterative points in our process. When an idea fits our funding niche and the opportunity seems ripe, we will work with you to build a regional strategy and develop the dynamics of your team to round out a project that will have tangible improvements for the ecosystem.

We invest in this earliest phase of project development to set a big idea on a trajectory towards game-changing outcomes.

Steve Cole, Vice President of Programs
847-425-8194 or scole(at)glpf(dot)org

Submit a Project Concept

If you would prefer to explain your idea in writing, we accept project concepts at any time. Please visit our funding guidelines for the characteristics of our funded projects. Your writeup should be no more than 1,500 words and should include the following information.

Environmental Outcomes
Describe, as specifically as possible, the expected environmental result of the project. The expected result may be presented as a working hypothesis. Explain why the outcome sought is a priority for the Great Lakes and identify the likely impact on the basin ecosystem.

Proposed Work
Briefly describe the work to be carried out. Include a project timeline that indicates when the environmental outcomes will be realized, when the project work will be complete and major interim milestones. Describe how the work will lead to the expected environmental outcomes and benefits for the Great Lakes and how project success will be measured.

Key Personnel
Identify the members of the project team, indicating roles, responsibilities, and their qualifications.

Budget and Funding Plan
Describe the costs of the proposed work in summary categories such as personnel, equipment and supplies, travel, consultants/sub-contractors, overhead, and so on.

The Fund will support overhead/indirect/G&A cost at a maximum of 15% of direct project costs.

Indicate the portion of the budget to be supported by the Fund, and identify the type of support (grant, loan or other mechanism) desired. Detail additional sources of funding by organization and amount if known.

Where to Send Your Concept

Please send your project concept and the team leader’s resume (as one pdf document) to preproposal@glpf.org. In return, we will let you know the next steps and timetable for making a funding decision on your project.

What Happens Next?

We will review and, often, work with you to clarify your project. This is a collaborative process between you and Fund staff. Our goal will be to understand your project in detail in order to provide our leadership with the information needed to make a decision on next steps.

Project teams will be selected by Fund leadership to submit a more detailed proposal. You will receive feedback from the evaluation of your project concept as well as guidance for the content of your  proposal which often is customized based on the nature of the proposed work.

Fund staff and a panel of outside technical reviewers with relevant expertise review all proposals. You will receive additional guidance based on those reviews and will be asked to revise your original submittal.

A board committee reviews this revised proposal and makes a funding recommendation to be acted upon by the full Fund board.

Typically, the process from initial concept to approved funding takes six to eight months. However, for projects of high value and high importance, the Fund staff and board may work with you to accelerate the process.

If you have further questions, please feel free to email our staff at startaconversation@glpf.org.