Skip to main content

Grants Awarded by the Foundation


The Foundation has distributed more than $339,455 in grants since 1993 in accordance with the Foundation's Grant Policy. These grants are among those previously made by the Great Lakes Foundation:


  • chart Plum @ pilot islands

The Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands was formed in 2007. It partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the preservation, restoration, maintenance, and contemporary use of the historic resources on Plum and Pilot Islands, and to conserve and protect wildlife resources, while providing opportunities for quality wildlife-dependent recreation.

One of the lighthouses they help preserve is the Plum Island Range Light, which helps guide ships through a deepwater channel running from Lake Michigan into Green Bay through the treacherous Porte des Mortes, or Death’s Door, which lies north of the tip of the Door County Peninsula and south of Washington Island, Minn. (M-85).

The $10,000 grant helps support removing lead paint and repainting the lower half of the lighthouse tower. This is a major project, and substantial funding has already been received from other sources. If you are heading to the GLCC Rendezvous in Escanaba this summer, and choose to enter Green Bay via Porte Des Mortes, be sure to take a look at this light and know that the Foundation is helping with its restoration.

  • marina bldg

Our other friend in this grant cycle is Friends of PBS Wisconsin Inc., which is the charitable arm of PBS Wisconsin. PBS Wisconsin produces many television shows about outdoor life in Wisconsin, and many other topics. Its shows are often broadcast by other public television stations in the Great Lakes region.

 Our $10,000 grant is in support of the production of a television program entitled Wisconsin Lighthouses.

 Wisconsin Lighthouses will showcase the unique and most impressive of Wisconsin’s nearly 50 lighthouses. It will show the range and diversity of lighthouses on Wisconsin’s lakes – from the haunted shoals of the Apostle Islands, to Door County’s rugged coast, to Wisconsin’s “inland lake” Lake Winnebago, and all the way down the urban shoreline of Lake Michigan – highlighting Green Bay, Racine (M-45), Manitowoc (M-49), Two Rivers (M-50), Kenosha (M-44), and Milwaukee (M-46). The show will feature sweeping vistas, inviting landscapes, breathtaking scenery, heartbreaking portrayals, and incredible tales of Great Lakes heroism.

Experts and historians will guide viewers through the inner workings of the lighthouse and reveal the everyday lives of the people who inhabited them – and perhaps even share a few ghost stories.

The show is expected to air in late 2024, and as a sponsor, the Foundation will receive a DVD of the documentary, which we may show at a future GLCC event.


  • Able Sail Toronto Sailboats

Able Sail Toronto (AST) is a sailing club for people with physical disabilities based out of National Yacht Club in the Toronto Harbour (O-45). Their members are people with physical disabilities who are both novice and experienced sailors. Members engage in pleasure sailing, racing and regattas. GLF has provided a $2,500 grant to support the purchase of two transfer lifts and a Martin16 sailboat to help AST enable people with a disability to experience healthy outdoor recreation, to gain a skill and become more engaged in a community through sailing. August 1, 2023 GLF helped secure funding for the new sailboat in the amount of $5,000.

Hands on Deck  is a nonprofit organization based in Green Bay, Wis. (M-109), that teaches traditional boatbuilding and woodworking skills to people of all ages. It provides boating experiences for hundreds of people each summer. Hands on Deck plans to conduct a series of Estuary Connections Camps for children that include such elements as model boat-building, wood carving, boaters’ safety classes, and a variety of on-the-water experiences. The boating program includes activities on a variety of boats, such as a lobster boat, modern sailing sloop, an antique runabout, and small boat sailing. The Foundation has supported the Estuary Connection Camps by providing $10,000 for camp scholarships for children from low-income families.

Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior is a nonprofit organization based in Thunder Bay, Ont. (S-134), that restores, maintains, and promotes historic lighthouses in the Lake Superior region. It is responsible for three lighthouses: at Porphyry, Shaganash, and Trowbridge islands. A variety of programs is made available to boaters visiting the lighthouses. The Foundation has supported this organization with a grant of $5,220 to buy a workboat, wood for a slip, and a winch at the Trowbridge Island Light. Thunder Bay, Ont. (S-134)

Maritime Heritage Alliance is a nonprofit organization based in Traverse City, Michigan (M-10), that restores and maintains classic wooden boats and offers classes in boatbuilding and related skills. It has several boats, including Champion, a 38-foot Concordia Cutter. The Champion is used for programs providing youths with sailing experiences. Groups working with this program include 4-H and the local county court system. The Great Lakes Foundation has supported this program by providing $4,251.30 to purchase a new life raft for Champion. Traverse City, Michigan (M-10)

  • Silver Inlet docks

Silver Islet Harbour Association of Thunder Bay - Silver Islet, Ont. (S-128) is the only harbour between Thunder Bay and Nipigon or Rossport along the north shore of Lake Superior where dockage is in great demand. The Silver Islet Association officially received ownership of the harbour in 2021, and are now developing the harbour. The grand plan is monumental, but for now we are helping them with the purchase of a header-dock, the first phase, to create a slip-dock for transient boaters, along with shore-docking for seasonal boaters, both capable of generating critical operating funds. The Grant request was for $26,500 CAD. Their mission, ”…to support the creation and development of marine infrastructures, which protects our harbours and shorelines…” closely aligns itself with our mission to insure the protection and preservation of all our Great Lakes and their associated waterways. Silver Islet, Ont. (S-128)  *6/30/22 Update: Docks installation!"Thank you again for your assistance and many thanks as well to the Great Lakes Foundation for the support of our harbour project." - Scott Cheadle, President

  • Pride of Michigan

Noble Odyssey Foundation - Their training vessel, the Pride of Michigan, is an 81’ Navy Dive Vessel, berth in Mount Clemens, Michigan, that provides the laboratory, supporting their mission for  "...cadets to work directly with scientists and other professionals in conducting underwater collection of data and in geological, archeological and natural sciences exploration.”  The program teaching Sea Cadets is comprehensive and ultimately prepares them for careers in the Naval service or maritime industry. This training encompasses life aboard, drills, damage control, firefighting, helmsmanship, navigation, communications, and includes introductions to Marine Archaeology and Anthropology. It truly is a “floating college.” The December 2021 grant of $5,000 USD will be used to fund the United States Coast Guard required quinquennial dry-dock recertification survey & inspection of their motor vessel, with much of the exterior preparation being performed by the Sea Cadets themselves. Our CONGRATULATIONS to the Noble Odyssey Foundation for their 50 years of public service, and for their passion to, “explore, study and protect,” our great natural resources. Anchor Bay, Mich. (D-36) "I want to thank your organization for the donation of $5,000 to help us with the cost of our 5-year dry dock, Coast Guard inspection for our Training/Research vessel Pride of Michigan. As we enter 2022, the Noble Odyssey Foundation is celebrating its 50th year of operation. This will be our 45th year of training Sea Cadets at sea doing Great Lakes research. We have had 100s of young people go through our program and today are successful. Many have gone on into the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. It is the support of donations such as yours that has made this possible." - Luke Clyburn, President

  • Brakewinders

Brakewinders - This December 2021 grant was for $5,000 CAD. Brakewinders is a group of dedicated volunteers from Wiarton, Ont., whose mission is to, “…introduce boat building, care & maintenance, boat handling, water safety, & sailing to young deserving adults while promoting a fun environment.” By building their own prams and optimist, they not only teach the craftmanship of boat building, they further advance the culture & art of sailing, while instilling appreciation for our precious natural resources. To help financially perpetuate their own cause, they recycle old sails into Tote-bags, which are sold, and the profits are then reinvested into the program. Part of the approved grant dollars will be used to train and certify First-aid & Advanced-sailing instructors. While a fledging organization, they have had enormous success, producing 4 optimist boats and have restored 3 dinghies in their first year of operation. Wiarton, Ont. (GB-12)  "The Breakwinders would like to thank you for your generous donation. Your faith in us gives us the drive to continue on our crazy quest of getting kids of all ages on the water." - Devin Genner, President & Alina Karlewicz, Treasurer

  • Thousand Islands Association- Their main purpose is to supply & maintain recreational navigation buoys throughout the Thousand Islands of the upper St. Lawrence River. Their ambitious goal is to replace all 300 markers over a 5-year time frame, and this is currently year two. The Board felt strong that this worthy project was deserving of a second grant, after approving their initial request last year. Each marker’s replacement cost is approximately $275 CAD, and the grand total for the project is well over $82,000 CAD. These markers not only help keep local boaters, both Canadian & American out of harm’s way, but also help protect the fragile eco-system of the Thousand Islands territorial waters. The December 2021 amount approved was $10,600 USD. Thousand Islands, Ont. & N.Y. (SLR-00.1) "On behalf of President Peter Fitton and the Board of the Thousand Islands Association, I want to express our appreciation for your generous Grant of $10,600 to provide the funds for an additional 60 new shoal markers. This grant will allow TIA to continue its five year program for replacing all 300 shoal markers considered vital to navigation in the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River." - Allison Burchell-Robinson for Peter Fitton, President  
  • Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior - An organization dedicated to the preservation of Canadian lighthouses. However, in this case, the request was for harbor infrastructure needs such as cribbing, mooring balls, boat slips, and a travel lift for visiting tour boats. They actually have four short term restoration projects on two different sites planned. The amount granted in April, 2021 was $6,968 CAD ($5,575 USD). Porphyry Island, Ont. (S-121) "Please accept our thanks for providing Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior with a grant to repair infrastructure to Porphyry Island harbour. It is by working together that we can achieve our goals." - Paul Capon, Chair  
  • Thousand Islands Association - The Thousand Islands Association is responsible for maintaining channel markers in the recreational area of the Thousand Islands. The April, 2021 request for $8,800 was for replacing their aging channel markers over a 5-year replacement time frame. The pandemic has severely hampered their opportunities to seek private donations, and they have turned to us for help. The channel markers provide critical navigation assistance for recreational boaters, Canadian and U.S. alike, traversing the region. Thousand Islands, Ont. & N.Y. (SLR-00.1)  
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada - The April, 2021 grant of $20,000 is to be used for a land purchase on Manitoulin Island. It alone encompasses 18,000 acres, and 11 miles of shore and is part of the Vidal Bay Forest (NC-11), thereby creating a 29,800-acre preserve with over 50 miles of shoreline. The Conservancy studied and was acutely aware of the impact of the purchase on the indigenous population of Manitoulin Island. This grant also qualified for matching funds from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grant program, shared by both U.S. & Canadian governments, thereby increasing the grand value of our donation to $80,000 USD. Vidal Bay, Ont. (NC-11"Thank you so very much for your incredibly generous gift of $20,000 US to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Your support will help us protect and care for the Vidal Bay Forests and Shoreline on Manitoulin Island. Your US donation is making an even greater impact by being matched 3 to 1through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act!" - Laura Vaughan, Senior Development Officer, Ontario Region (Link to interview with 2020-2022 GLF President, Rich Barzyk)  
  • Great Lakes Historical Society - Preservation and interpretation of the tug Ohio will enhance public appreciation of the Great Lakes as this tug worked for 112 years on the Great Lakes as a fireboat and as a commercial tug. The GLF donation in April, 2019 of $2,000 goes to cleaning, repair and construction for restoration. Toledo, Ohio (E-21)
  • Rock of Ages light

Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society – In December of 2018, the Great Lakes Foundation funded the Rock of Ages Lighthouse Clean Water and Sanitation Project with a $10,000 grant. The support allowed them to accomplish a key step in the restoration work at Rock of Ages Lighthouse. (Washington Harbor, Mich. S-163)