The City of Holland and Hope College are working in partnership to develop an institute that will support outreach, education and practices geared toward creating a more sustainable community.

The new Sustainability Institute, which will be housed on the Hope campus, has received support through a variety of organizations, including $65,000 through a national initiative:  the Local Sustainability Matching Fund - a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.

Kurt Dykstra, mayor of Holland, said, “This outcome is the culmination of four to five years of work by the Holland Sustainability Committee.  The Funders’ Grant award is excellent news for Holland as we work to institutionalize sound sustainability practices and improve our residents and commercial bottom lines and long-term environmental outlooks.”

The Sustainability Institute is intended to serve as a sustainability educator; to become a research center for sustainability best practices; and to help replicate and grow sustainability success in the region.

“The purpose for a Holland/Hope College Sustainability Institute is to support growing efforts to encourage, engage, educate and drive sustainable culture, water and air quality, energy efficiency, land use, and environmental innovation in Holland, in the West Michigan region, and in the nation using a Sustainability Framework evaluation process and other best practices,” said Ryan Cotton, Holland city manager.

Dr. R. Richard Ray, provost at Hope, noted that the college values the opportunity to serve as a resource on behalf of the entire community.  “Hope College is pleased to partner with the City of Holland and other community partners in establishing this sustainability institute,” Ray said.  “We have long recognized and treasured the college’s home in Holland. This institute provides yet another opportunity for us to leverage the substantial intellectual resources of our faculty, staff, and students for the benefit of a more sustainable community. We look forward to working with every citizen concerned with ensuring that the natural blessings of our community are preserved and enhanced for our children and their children down through the generations.”

The institute is being developed at the recommendation of the city’s Education and Outreach Task Force, which is one of seven citizen-led task forces created in conjunction with the Holland City Council’s approval of the city’s Community Energy Plan on November 6, 2013.  The task forces were formed to help accomplish 40-year goals:  to ensure economic competitiveness; to provide reliable and affordable energy; and to protect the environment.

In related activity, the City and BPW expect to appoint a Holland Energy Manager by January 2015 who will work in partnership with institute.

The Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland has supported the Sustainability Institute with a three-year grant of $25,000 each year ($75,000 over three years).  Mike Goorhouse, president/CEO of the foundation, said, “The Foundation is pleased to support this new Institute as it builds on our community’s efforts toward long-term sustainability.”

The Holland Board of Public Works and the City of Holland are budgeting $37,500 each over three years.  Dave Koster, Holland Board of Public Works general manager, commented, “The institute builds a broader network of support for the sustainability initiatives the HBPW has underway, such as the Holland Energy Park and our award-winning water and energy conservation programs.”

The intent of the national Funders’ Network for Smart Growth & Livable Communities “Local Sustainability Matching Fund” program, Fourth Round, is to catalyze partnerships between local governments and place-based foundations to advance community sustainability initiatives. The Surdna Foundation has invested in the Local Sustainability Matching Fund since the first round. “It’s at the local level where sustainability initiatives have the greatest traction and where growth capital is most needed,” said Sharon Alpert, Senior Director of Programs and Strategy at the Surdna Foundation. “Local municipalities are leading the way in combining sustainability with practicality. By partnering with local philanthropy, they are taking a big concept—sustainability—and putting it to work in a way that benefits their community, their environment, and their bottom line. In this round, as in past rounds, a growing group of national and place-based funders is responding to this opportunity to take the work to scale.”  The Funders’ Network Sustainability has been established for more than a decade as the “gateway” to foundation funding in the area of sustainability.

The Funders’ Network Sustainability identified seven sustainability priorities for funding, several of which could match Holland’s Community Energy Plan initiative:  climate adaptation, neighborhood sustainability, urban food systems, sustainability performance measurement, sustainable economic development, mobilizing resident/business sustainability actions, and recycling/waste prevention. 

The City of Holland was awarded this $65,000 to support the launch of a Community Energy Plan that will result in efficiency retrofits, energy audits, and building performance labeling in 400-plus buildings, and use sustainability metrics to drive community participation in the energy program for up to 7,000-plus buildings over the long term, as well as sustainability educational and research goals already existing in the Holland area.

The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities awarded a total of $531,250 to nine communities:  Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, San Diego, Indianapolis, Memphis, Providence, R.I., Salt Lake City and Holland, Michigan.

Seven investor funders make up the Local Sustainability Matching Fund: Bloomberg Philanthropies, the website said: The JPB Foundation, John D. and

Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, The New York Community Trust, Summit Foundation and Surdna Foundation. To date, the LSMF has awarded $1,472,750 and funded 29 projects across North America.  The Local Sustainability Matching Fund is a collaborative effort of the Funders’ Network and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. The Local Sustainability Matching Fund is designed to catalyze partnerships between local governments and local, place-based foundations and to advance community based sustainability initiatives.

More about the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities is available at

More information about Holland’s efforts and ways to get involved is available at and