The Erb Family Foundation in Birmingham, Michigan, has announced $2.5 million in grants to environmental and arts organizations in the metropolitan Detroit region.
Fred and Barbara Erb, prominent philanthropists in the Detroit area for sixty years, established the $100 million foundation in 2007 to "nurture environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities" in the region and support initiatives to restore the Great Lakes basin. The latest round of funding brings the total amount awarded by the foundation in its first year to $3.3 million.
Environmental grants announced by the foundation include a total of $333,000 to support efforts by four local groups to improve water quality in the region as well as conservation planning by the Nature Conservancy for the Lake Huron basin, and $125,000 to the Detroit Science Center to complement these efforts with an educational exhibit on storm water management. In addition, the foundation awarded $100,000 each to the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Environmental Council to support public policy and industry practices that impact environmental health, as well as four grants totaling $280,000 to promote environmental justice in the region.
Arts grants announced by the foundation include a total of $625,000 to several large "anchor" organizations the Erbs historically have supported, and an additional $385,000 to both large and small organizations in the central city and surrounding neighborhoods. The foundation also awarded two-year grants totaling $465,000 to support intensive arts education programs for artistically talented underserved youth, and $100,000 to the Heidelberg Project, an internationally recognized but underresourced community arts group, to implement its vision for a cultural village in Gratiot-McDougal East Side Detroit, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
The arts grants cast a wide net over Detroit's cultural community, the Detroit Free Press reports, and underscore the increasing role foundations are playing in the cultural life of the city as other funding sources dry up. Last week, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra received $1 million from the New York City-based Ford Foundation, while the Kresge Foundation recently committed nearly $9 million to local cultural groups. "Unfortunately, the needs are greater than they've ever been," said Erb Foundation president John Erb. "For [Detroit] to flourish we need to have a strong arts and culture community."
For a complete list of grants, visit the Erb Family Foundation Web site.