The Calumet Collaborative is a nonprofit organization that catalyzes innovative partnerships between Illinois and Indiana community, government, business, and nonprofit stakeholders to advance a thriving Calumet region through transformative sustainable development.
How does Calumet Collaborative define sustainable development?
Calumet Collaborative defines sustainable development as the integration of the core elements of: inclusive and equitable communities, responsible economic growth, and effective management of natural resources through conservation, regeneration, restoration, and resilience.
What is Calumet Collaborative’s geography & landscape?
Calumet Collaborative serves southeast Chicago and south Cook County in Illinois and Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties in northwest Indiana. This bi-state geography is what is considered the Calumet region.
The Calumet region is juxtaposed by globally rare natural areas and large industrial corridors. Calumet Collaborative’s service area covers more than 900 square miles, which include over 70 municipalities, five interstate highways, six Class 1 railroads, and three commuter rail lines. It is bookended by two national parks—Pullman National Monument in Illinois and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This area is home to more than one million residents.
The Calumet region has the same assets, opportunities and challenges on both sides of the state line. The focus of the Calumet Collaborative is to create sustainable and thriving communities, businesses, and natural areas.
Why the Calumet Collaborative?
Calumet Collaborative is an independent, non-partisan nonprofit organization that connects public agencies, private organizations, businesses, and research institutions working in the region. Calumet Collaborative is the convenor and connector of those doing good work, wanting to do good work, and leveraging the work in the area. While much of this work has been successful, the Collaborative knows more can be done together than alone.
Convening these doers fosters collaboration, leverages available resources by utilizing public-private partnerships, and takes the work to the next level.
Who leads the organization?
Calumet Collaborative intentionally chose leaders that could highlight the assets and take on the challenges of the Calumet region. The Collaborative includes lead decision makers from the region’s various companies, organizations, and community groups with equal representation from those that work in Illinois, Indiana, and across the bi-state region, representing the economic, community, and environmental sectors.
The Collaborative’s leadership includes nine board of directors, 30 advisory council member organizations, working groups focused on the organization’s core initiatives, and staff.
The board of directors includes committed partners from: ArcelorMittal, The Chicago Community Trust, The Field Museum, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Legacy Foundation, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, and Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
How did Calumet Collaborative select its focus areas and current initiatives?
After a six-month organizational development process with more than 20 meetings and 25 needs assessment interviews, four distinct focus areas rose to the top: economic opportunity, livable communities, culture and heritage, and environment.
Within those different focus areas, the Collaborative identified four bi-state initiatives with the potential for significant regional impact: brownfield redevelopment, a comprehensive wayfinding system, advancement of the Calumet National Heritage Area, and comprehensive conservation strategies.
How is the work of the initiatives being completed and success tracked and evaluated?
Each initiative has a working group made up of board members, advisory council members and other subject matter experts. The working groups take action and conduct the work of each initiative.
The working groups for each of the four initiatives are developing metrics to track progress, which Calumet Collaborative will share in various reports.
What is the Collaborative’s history and origin?
In 2012, former Ill. Gov. Patrick Quinn launched an initiative to create a partnership in the Calumet region of Illinois known as Millennium Reserve. It encouraged partners to take collective action and work together to highlight assets and find solutions to the region’s challenges. He appointed a steering committee and created the Illinois State Agency Task Force to support the work. When Ill. Gov. Bruce Rauner was elected, he supported and encouraged Millennium Reserve to become an independent nonprofit organization. He subsequently expanded the taskforce to include a member representing the Governor’s office.
In late 2015, a group of leaders working with the Millennium Reserve partnership determined an independent nonprofit organization that was bi-state in nature could have a greater impact in addressing the opportunities and challenges in the Calumet region.
In 2016, stakeholders from both Illinois and Indiana were identified to participate in a six-month formal consultant-led organizational planning process to establish a mission, vision, name, and leadership structure. In initial planning phases, more than 90 stakeholders provided feedback to make the Calumet Collaborative what it is today.
What happened to Millennium Reserve and the Illinois State Agency Task Force?
The work of the Millennium Reserve proved that when you bring a group of people together working toward similar goals, you can accomplish more together than on your own. This model of collective action is what encouraged the Calumet Collaborative to take the bold step to work with the entire Calumet region. Many of the Millennium Reserve projects have been included in the work of Calumet Collaborative. Several Millennium Reserve initiatves remain active and those working groups continue to work with Calumet Collaborative.
The Illinois State Agency Task Force continues to support Calumet Collaborative. It includes the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (which now includes Historic Preservation, formerly a separate agency), Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the Office of the Governor in Illinois. The role of this group starts with considering the recommendations, priorities, action plans, and projects being advanced by the Calumet Collaborative Advisory Council and broader partnership. Within that context, the Task Force has the following two charges: identify barriers that Calumet Collaborative partners face in accessing information, technical assistance, and funding from the Task Force’s member agencies; and within each agency’s mission, authorities, and existing resources, develop sustainable policies and programs to address those barriers.
I have an idea for a project. How can I make it part of the Calumet Collaborative’s future work plan?
If you have a potential program, project, or initiative, whether large or small, that is in alignment with Calumet Collaborative’s mission and vision, contact Calumet Collaborative staff. Contact Executive Director Sarah Coulter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I stay up to date on Calumet Collaborative activities?