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DTE Foundation awards ISEA two-year grant

Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) received an $80,000 two-year grant from the DTE Energy Foundation. Of the yearly funding, $25,000 will be directed to matching scholarships for the Schoolship program and $15,000 will go toward programming in Detroit. This grant continues a long partnership DTE has with Inland Seas.

“DTE Foundation has been providing Schoolship matching scholarships since 2003,” said Fred Sitkins, ISEA Executive Director. “Without support from foundations like DTE, most schools could not afford to have this hands-on Great Lakes learning experience.”

ISEA charges schools one-third of the cost to participate in a Schoolship program. Matching scholarships like this fund one-third and ISEA’s individual and business donors fund the last third. Students from around the state of Michigan and the greater Great Lakes region attend Schoolship programs with ISEA.

In 2019, the DTE Foundation awarded a grant to ISEA to bring the schooner Inland Seas to Detroit to provide unique educational experiences on the Detroit River. In partnership with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, 128 youth and adults participated in ISEA programming free-of-charge. In addition to the continuation of these programs, this two-year grant will allow ISEA to reach thousands of individuals with dockside programming on the Detroit River.

“We are excited to bring our mission of protecting the Great Lakes to the Detroit riverfront,” Sitkins shared. “We docked outside of the GM Renaissance Center in 2019 on our transit to Cleveland, OH and lots of people asked about the ship and how they could get aboard.”

“The DTE Foundation takes great pride in supporting our state’s natural wonders, including the Great Lakes,” said Lynette Dowler, executive director and president of the DTE Foundation. “We are proud to play a role in the preservation of the lakes with strong relationships with community partners and programs like the Inland Seas Education Association. The hands-on learning experiences ISEA creates, have a long-lasting impact on those who enjoy our great state of Michigan.”

The relationship between the DTE Foundation and ISEA goes beyond grant funding. DTE employees have periodically been on the ISEA board. Inland Seas Education Association received a DTE Energy “Achievement in Excellence Award for Sustainability” in 2004. Cherry Festival floats have been sponsored by DTE Energy over ISEA’s 31-year history. In 2019, DTE was instrumental in connecting ISEA with Under the Radar Michigan. Filming was conducted during the Detroit River Wildlife Refuge program and the episode aired in January 2020.

ISEA addresses the need to protect the Great Lakes, which has a global as well as regional economic impact, through education. Since 1989, Inland Seas has educated over 130,000 youth and adults about the health of the Great Lakes through their Schoolship and public programs.

“The Great Lakes contain 20% of Earth’s accessible fresh water supply and roughly 84% of North America’s surface fresh water,” according to Sitkins. “We believe it’s everyone’s job to steward this resource through career choices, lifestyle choices, communication choices, and more.”

More about Inland Seas Education Association and their school and public programs can be found at schoolship.org.