Stakeholders and Partnerships Matter!

Natural infrastructure – wetlands, forests, healthy soils – plays a critical role in improving water quality, reducing flooding, protecting critical infrastructure, and safeguarding public health. By working together, we can harness the full potential of natural infrastructure to build a more resilient water future for everyone.

That’s why forming effective partnerships is Step 5 in the process of funding and financing coastal resiliency. Partnerships are essential for advancing natural infrastructure and strengthening climate resilience because they:

Boost Municipal Capacity – Partnerships with community groups and non-profits boost expertise and manpower to plan, design, and maintain natural infrastructure projects that reduce municipal costs and ensure long-term success of the projects.

Fill Funding Gaps – Diverse stakeholders bring together valuable knowledge and resources to identify a broad range of potential project benefits, strengthen funding applications, and support long-term resilience strategies and equitable outcomes.

Build Trust and Stewardship – Partners and stakeholders bring specialized skills and strong understanding of community needs. Working in collaboration is valuable in prioritizing inclusive participation, providing environmental education and fostering community trust to develop comprehensive solutions that address the specific needs of the community.

The sections below offer guidance and resources for building your partner network and ways to join current networks. You can also get started by conducting an initial assessment of existing needs and opportunities using the Watershed Resiliency Community Worksheet.

Build Your Partner Network

Ready to harness the power of natural infrastructure? Click through the next sections to learn how to build a strong partner network.

By building strong partnerships, communities can leverage the benefits of natural infrastructure investments to create a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future.

Identify Stakeholders

Identify stakeholders and expand your network to include diverse voices and stakeholder perspectives to ensure your network includes a wide range of stakeholders, from government agencies to community organizations and environmental justice groups.

Webinar: Building Capacity Through Partnerships

Watch WaterNow's October 19, 2022 webinar on how partnerships can build capacity in frontline communities to meet water challenges.

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Webinar Slides: Building Capacity Through Partnerships

Download the slides from the Tap into Resilience webinar from October 19, 2022, focused on building capacity through trusting relationships.

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MMSD: Green Infrastructure Partnership Program

MMSD's Green Infrastructure Partnership Program offers incentive funding on a per-gallon captured, reimbursement basis for a range of green infrastructure

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Building Blocks of Trust

Report from River Network and WaterNow on how communities and water systems can build trusting partnerships.

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Equity Guide for Green Stormwater Infrastructure Practitioners

A a resource by and for green infrastructure program managers working to build equitable, community-centered projects.

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Design for Multiple Benefits

Natural infrastructure can provide a multitude of benefits beyond climate resilience. Partnering with groups who share diverse goals, such as environmental and public health organizations or recreational sports that create solutions with broader community appeal and long-term sustainability.

Webcast: Tapping into Multiple Benefits

Watch WaterNow’s February 25, 2020, Tap into Resilience webcast.

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Explore Strategies: Opportunities for Localized Solutions

This report dives into the big picture benefits of localized water strategies and how to finance them.

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Impact of Green City, Clean Waters on Philadelphia

Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia's impact analysis finds that green infrastructure results in significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to Philadelphia.

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Planning for Sustainability-Handbook for Water Utilities

An EPA effort to focus on the project development phase to create cost-effective, resource efficient, community-specific projects satisfying all stakeholders.

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Moving Toward a Multi-Benefit Approach for Water Management

Our partners at the Pacific Institute and collaborator Professor Bob Wilkinson are developing a framework for incorporating multiple benefits of water projects into decision-making.

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Plan Together

Organize meetings to identify water-related challenges, locate priority areas, leverage resources, and deploy a funding strategy.

Community Water Academy: Guide

Ripples of Change: Guidelines & Templates for Building Your Own Community Water Academy

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Planning & Implementing Green Infrastructure

List of resources for those interested in the planning and implementation of nature-based solutions.

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GSI: A Tool for Economic Recovery and Growth

Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia’s report offering a detailed look at how GSI can be used as a tool for economic recovery and equitable growth.

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Michigan & Wisconsin Partner Networks

There are a number of partnership networks in Michigan and Wisconsin that can support communities’ implementation of natural infrastructure. Check out the sections below for an overview of some of these networks.

Lower Grand Organization of Watersheds

Lower Grand Organization of Watersheds (LGROW) brings together local municipalities and community stakeholders to address issues facing the Lower Grand River and its watersheds.

Rainscaping: an LGROW program that assist homeowners and businesses in the Greater Grand Rapids area in designing and implementing customized natural infrastructure solutions, distributing the benefits of these practices across the watershed.

Contact LGROW: [email protected]




Southeast Wisconsin Watershed Trust

Southeast Wisconsin Watershed Trust (Sweet Water) brings diverse partners together to provide the leadership and innovation necessary to protect and restore our shared water resources in the Greater Milwaukee watersheds

Sweet Water’s Water Quality Mini-Grant Program distributes grants each year to community groups to implement natural solutions that improve water quality, enhance environmental conservation, restore aquatic habitat, or educate the public.

Contact Sweet Water: [email protected]

Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership

Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership (LNRP) cultivates, connects, and creates community stewardship with the strategic, administrative, programming and funding support needed to improve the health of the land and waters in northeast and east central Wisconsin

Coastal Resilience Community Impact Project supports communities in Northeast Wisconsin with project planning, design, funding, and implementation of coastal resilience strategies.

Contact LNRP: [email protected]




University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute supports and enhances the sustainable use, conservation and health of Great Lakes resources and the well-being of Great Lakes communities through research, education and outreach.

WI Sea Grant – Grant Opportunities:

Signup for e-news at WI Sea Grant:

An Audit of Municipal Codes and Ordinances to Tackle Barriers to Green Infrastructure

Wisconsin Coastal Resilience (CALM) a Lake Michigan-wide project is connecting the resilience efforts in Southeastern Wisconsin to those in Wisconsin’s Green Bay and Northeastern coastal communities to regionally prioritize and address coastal hazards.

Ask the Expert at WI Sea Grant

Sign up for WI Sea Grant enews

Phone Number: (608) 267-7982

Project Staff:

Michael Friis, Program Manager, Public Access, Wetland Protection, and Land Use Planning Coordinator
Kathleen Angel, Federal Consistency and Coastal Hazards Coordinator
Lydia Salus, Project Coordinator

Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to fund research, education, and outreach projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of Great Lakes resources.

Resilient Coastal Communitieseducational resources for community leaders on natural infrastructure, habitat protection, and restoration solutions.

Water Schoolfree, online, self-paced courses for local elected and appointed officials for elected and appointed officials increase their knowledge about water management and gain access to tools and resources to help impact their local economy. (Coming in 2024)

Upwellings Newsletter – reporting on Great Lakes research and education since 1976.

Join the MI Sea Grant Mailing List

Ann Arbor office, University of Michigan, Phone: (734) 764-8678

East Lansing office, Michigan State University Extension, Phone: (517) 353-9748

[email protected]

Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange

Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange a project of the Global Philanthropy Partnership, seeks to activate local governments and water agencies in the U.S. and Canada to implement green stormwater infrastructure equitably.

Exchange Green Infrastructure Library

Equity Guide for Green Stormwater Infrastructure Practitioners offers a comprehensive guide to advancing and measuring equity within public sector stormwater management organizations’ green stormwater infrastructure policies, programs, and projects

Peer Learning at the Exchange

Become a Member of the Exchange

Additional Resources

Check out some additional mapping and demographics resources that can help you identify community challenges and stakeholders.


MiEJScreen: Environmental Justice Screening Tool an interactive screening tool that identifies Michigan communities that may be disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards by exploring environmental, health, and socioeconomic conditions within a specific community, region, or across the entire state.


EJScreen: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tool that combines nationally consistent data on environmental and demographic indicators in order to better meet the Agency’s responsibilities related to the protection of public health and the environment.

Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool is an interactive map developed by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to help identify communities that are disadvantaged because they are overburdened and underserved. The tool uses datasets that are indicators of burdens in eight categories: climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, and workforce development. Federal agencies will use the tool to help identify disadvantaged communities that will benefit from programs included in the Justice40 Initiative that seeks to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of investments in climate, clean energy, and related areas to disadvantaged communities.

FEMA Coastal Floodplain Mapping

FEMA Coastal Floodplain Mapping provides a tutorial on how coastal risks are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs, or flood maps).