Joyce Program Environment

The Environment Program is committed to speeding the Midwest’s transition to a thriving, low-carbon economy; protecting and restoring a healthy Great Lakes environment that sustains the millions of Americans and Canadians who live along the Lakes; and broadening the base of support for strong environmental policies in our home region.

Clean water and clean energy are cornerstones for the ongoing vitality of the Great Lakes region. Our approach is to identify mutually reinforcing local, state, and regional policy interventions that can drive change.  We invest in work to improve the health and resilience of the Great Lakes and expand investment in energy efficiency measures, supporting a regional vision to protect the environment and our shared natural resources for the future. Click here to learn more about our program's history. 

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Energy Efficiency

Midwest states use a lot of energy, including high winter heating and summer cooling needs for homes and businesses, and for many energy intensive industries. While a growing share of Midwest energy comes from low-carbon sources, much of the region’s energy use causes global warming pollution.

Recent advances in scientific understanding of climate risks and international agreements to act on those risks underscore the need for effective strategies to cut global warming pollution. Increased energy efficiency is widely recognized as the fastest, cheapest way to accomplish such cuts.

Local, state, and regional efforts to waste less energy can enable Midwesterners to boost the economy while cutting global warming pollution. The Joyce Foundation Environment Program aims to establish Great Lakes states as leaders on a path to adopt cost effective energy efficiency opportunities.


Energy efficiency remains the fastest, cheapest way to reduce Midwest carbon pollution and offers many co-benefits such as job creation and cost savings. The Joyce Foundation is working to put the Midwest on a path to adopt by 2020 all cost-effective energy efficiency measures – i.e., those that are cheaper than the cost of generating the power they displace.


Defend and strengthen state utility energy efficiency mandates, including energy efficiency resource standards. Support development of strong state implementation plans for federal power sector carbon pollution rules.

Advance development and application of new utility business models that can help enable a high efficiency, low carbon future.

Build the case for regional power markets to change their rules so efficiency and other distributed energy resources may compete fairly with bulk power generation.

Advocate for and monitor cost effective utility investments in smart grid technologies that enable customers to become more efficient.

Build on Chicago’s leadership in energy efficiency deployment, scaling up efforts locally and sharing lessons learned with other cities.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are America’s greatest freshwater resource – and the largest body of freshwater in the world. The lakes define our region and provide drinking water for 30 million people.  Although we have made progress, the lakes still face serious threats.  The Joyce Foundation pursues three interconnected goals to address those threats: preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species; eliminating polluted runoff from cities and farms; and advancing key state, regional, and federal Great Lakes policies and funding.


The Joyce Foundation seeks to protect and restore the Great Lakes by resolving the most critical basin-wide threats to the region’s water resources. The health and resilience of the Great Lakes may be significantly improved by simultaneously making progress on three interconnected issues: aquatic invasive species; runoff pollution, especially excess nutrients from cities and farms; and advancing and defending key state, regional, and federal policies and funding.


Strengthen federal and state ballast water policy.

Prevent movement of aquatic invasive species into and around the Great Lakes, and between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

Increase state collaboration on aquatic invasive species prevention and management.

Address runoff source pollution from urban landscapes (focus on Milwaukee and Chicago) and agricultural landscapes (focus on Western Lake Erie Basin).

Support strategic pilots and policy shifts to: (a) promote green stormwater management infrastructure; or (b) demonstrate highly effective nutrient management programs.

Increase collaboration among public and private actors to reduce polluted runoff.

Ensure effective Great Lakes Compact implementation.

Support the defense and advancement of state, regional and national policies to protect and restore the Great Lakes, such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Building Public Will for Environmental Protection

The Joyce Foundation understands that the base of support in our region for effective environmental public policies needs to be stronger and broader to ensure success in the coming years, especially as the Midwest population becomes more diverse along with the rest of the United States. The foundation will support a limited number of targeted interventions to educate, engage, and mobilize potentially influential constituencies in support of our environmental policy priorities.

What We Fund

We focus on initiatives that make an impact on the Great Lakes region.

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How To Apply

Learn about our submission process for applying for a grant.

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Our Research & Reports

Explore our research & reports on Environment.

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