Resilient Coastal Projects Initiative

The Resilient Coastal Projects Initiative (RCPI) supports local communities in planning sustainable, fundable projects that protect shorelines and community assets. These projects address coastal hazards like flooding and erosion, while adding new community benefits such as public spaces, recreation, habitat, and improved water quality.


Photo of eroded shoreline on Michigan

Great Lakes coastal communities are increasingly experiencing flooding, dune and beach loss, and storms that threaten roads, utilities, homes and community spaces. Many have had to implement emergency projects in the short-term that do not help them adapt for the long-term.

The biggest barrier municipalities face when it comes to addressing these issues and preparing for future uncertainty is capacity. Many small, medium and frontline communities in the region do not have enough staff, technical knowledge and federal grant experience needed to develop and finance sustainable projects.

The RCPI helps local communities plan and fund solutions. We are acting now because climate related events already have collectively cost Great Lakes coastal communities more than $878 million, and communities are now projecting that they will spend, on average, between $1 and $10 million over the next two years to protect their coasts.


The RCPI develops innovative, nature-based solutions that protect natural resources, public infrastructure, and other community assets. Key activities include:

  • Engaging with mayors and local leaders to learn about community priorities and existing coastal issues.
  • Leveraging expertise from regional partners and technical consultants to create Project Implementation Frameworks that address these issues and provide other social, ecological, and economic benefits.
  • Securing project funding for design and implementation through federal, state and regional grants, specifically targeting new grants available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

The RCPI is made possible through generous funding support from the Erb Family Foundation, the Fund for Lake Michigan, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.


The RCPI has supported more than 40 communities with their shoreline challenges. Using this initial support, several communities have secured or are applying for new funding to design or build their projects. Check out a few of these projects!

Photo of Lake Erie waves rolling in.

Photo by Zoë Goodrow.

East Chicago, Indiana

The Marina Revitalization and Ecological Enhancement project mitigates flooding hazards, improves local water quality, protects the East Chicago Marina, and provides new recreational and educational spaces, including a fishing pier for youth. Underwater habitat enhancements will ensure the area is welcoming to freshwater fish. Green infrastructure will beautify the area while filtering and reducing stormwater entering the lake.

Downriver Community Conference, Michigan

The North Branch Ecorse Creek Greenway project manages severe and consistent flooding along a 17-mile corridor traversing seven communities in Southeast Michigan. The first phase is a 1.5-mile habitat restoration demonstration project in the upper reach of the watershed, which adds habitat, improves water quality and increases storage capacity, thereby reducing downriver flooding.


We continue to offer technical and planning support to communities looking to enhance their resilience and address coastal hazards. By the end of 2025, the RCPI will have supported over 90 communities in the Great Lakes! Look for this opportunity coming your way soon. Members of the Cities Initiative will be automatically invited to participate.

2023: Lake Huron (Northeast Michigan); Western Lake Superior (Minnesota, Wisconsin); Lake Erie (Ohio).

2024: Lake Ontario (New York); Eastern Lake Superior (Michigan U.P.); Lake Michigan (Michigan U.P. and Illinois)


To learn more, please reach out to Zoë Goodrow, Coastal Programs Manager, at