Organization Evolution Update October 2016

Millennium Reserve is taking important steps to evolve into an independent nonprofit organization.

On July 14, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an executive order that opened the door for the creation of a voluntary bi-state entity. In the last three months, dozens of stakeholders representing Illinois and Indiana have come together to strategize about needs of the Calumet and southeast Chicago lakefront region and address key elements of the new nonprofit.

A cross-section of stakeholders has recommended that the new organization be dedicated to achieving regional prosperity by focusing attention and resources of diverse stakeholders on significant regional priorities and on-the-ground work that integrates community, economic and environmental values and goals. Participants in this process include the Millennium Reserve Steering Committee as well as numerous other thought leaders from Illinois and Indiana.

Foresight Design Initiative, a leader in complex social coalition building related to sustainability, has lead the new entity through a series of large and small group meetings. Thus far, these efforts have advanced how the new nonprofit will focus on three core elements:

  • Inclusive and equitable communities;
  • Responsible economic growth; and
  • Effective management of natural resources through conservation, regeneration, restoration and resilience.

Public engagement with partner organizations is an important part of this process. “The input of people and organizations around the region is key to how this new organization is developing,” says Sarah Coulter, senior program manager for Millennium Reserve. “We are encouraged by robust participation from stakeholders in Illinois and Indiana and look to engage more partners in the coming months.” Coulter has already conducted 20 interviews in the region for a needs assessment that will help determine focus areas for the new entity. And while highly credible regional collaboration through Millennium Reserve and other recent collectives have laid the groundwork for the new bi-state initiative, the idea of a different name and distinct new identity has been well received by stakeholders thus far. 

One example of how the new nonprofit can work is through its support for national heritage areas, including the Calumet National Heritage Area, says Mark Bouman, Chicago Region Program Director at the Field Museum’s Keller Science Action Center and vice chair of the Millennium Reserve Steering Committee. One of the priorities of Millennium Reserve is to support heritage areas. Bouman says that the bi-state collaborative will work directly with the Calumet Heritage Partnership to create a new heritage area in the region.

The new organization is expected to begin operations in 2017. A formal board of directors and advisory council will be announced in December 2016.