Each year we work with dozens of businesses who are passionate about the Great Lakes and who want to protect them. We are grateful for their support and we love all of the creative ways companies support the lakes and our work.

Here are the top four ways businesses supported the lakes in 2017, with just a few examples of our all amazing corporate partners!

1 – Educating customers about the Great Lakes

Spreading the word to your customers is a huge help in our efforts to educate people about the issues facing the lakes and get them involved. Here are a few companies who connected their customers to the Great Lakes in 2017:

  • Clif Bar and the Great Lakes at the Pitchfork Music Festival – Music festivals may not seem like a logical place to talk about the Great Lakes…but Clif Bar did just that at the Pitchfork music festival this summer. Clif Bar’s theme – “Protect the Places We Play” – drew festival goers into an interactive experience at the festival. Staffed by a combination of Clif Bar employees and Alliance Ambassadors, the exhibit educated music lovers about the lakes and raised funds for our Great Lakes protection programs. Check out Clif Bar’s video about the fun weekend!


  • Keeping Beaches Barefoot Friendly – From New York to Wisconsin, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly connected wine lovers and beach lovers to our Adopt-a-Beach program this summer. Partnering on over a dozen cleanups, Barefoot worked with the Alliance to involve volunteers in Adopt-a-Beach cleanups. Now that sounds like a perfect evening along the lakes!
Volunteers celebrate clean beaches at a Barefoot Wine & Bubbly Adopt-a-Beach event.
Volunteers celebrate clean beaches at a Barefoot Wine & Bubbly Adopt-a-Beach event.
  • Earth Month and Aveda – Every year, Aveda chooses clean water organizations around the country to support during Earth Month. For the 10th year in a row, Aveda chose the Alliance for the Great Lakes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Stylists at Aveda salons in those states dedicated their time and energy throughout Earth Month to educate clients about the lakes and fundraise for the Alliance. And, wow – they are amazing fundraisers! Over the past decade Aveda salons and stylists have raised more than $3.1 million for the Alliance.

Aveda salons around the Great Lakes raise funds during Earth Month for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.


2 – Supporting employee volunteerism

Volunteering is a great way to for businesses to support the Great Lakes and provide employees an opportunity to get involved too. Here are a few businesses that go above and beyond to encourage their staff members to get involved:

  • Beam Suntory: Connecting Spirits to the Great Lakes – Water is integral to all of the products produced by Beam Suntory, an international liquor and spirits company. With a headquarters and offices near Lake Michigan, they connected with the Alliance for the Great Lakes to make sure the largest surface freshwater source in the world remains clean and healthy. From volunteering to organizing a holiday bazaar that benefited the Alliance, Beam Suntory staff took Great Lakes protection to heart over the past year.
  • Adopt-a-Beach and Furniture-Maker Herman Miller – Employees with Michigan-based modern furniture company Herman Miller participate in Adopt-a-Beach cleanup events each year as a way to give back to their home state and home waters. In addition to volunteering, Herman Miller is a longtime supporter of the Alliance’s volunteer and education programs throughout the region, providing grant support through Herman Miller Cares for more than 10 years.
  • Freudenberg Group: Working Globally, Volunteering Locally Freudenberg Group encourages its employees to volunteer locally in the many communities in which they operate around the globe. During five Adopt-a-Beach cleanups, more than 100 Illinois-based Freudenberg employees removed nearly 300 pounds of trash from the Lake Michigan coastline in 2017. It’s a new twist on the old saying “think global, act local!” Freudenberg Group also provides generous support for our education and stewardship efforts in Southeast Chicago.

3 – Donating a portion of a company’s profits or a specific product

Donating profits provides direct support to programs helping the Great Lakes. Here are a few examples of companies who donate directly to the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

One percent for the planet businesses support earth-friendly groups like the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

  • Compiling the Best 93XRT Studio Recordings to Support the Great Lakes –  Each holiday season, 93XRT radio, an alternative station in Chicago, releases a compilation CD with gems from recordings taken in their studios and in venues around the city. This year, a portion of the proceeds from the 93XRT Live from the Archives album are supporting the Alliance for the Great Lakes. It sounds like a great way to support the lakes!
93XRT's 2017 Live from the Archives CD supported the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
A portion of the proceeds from 93XRT’s 2017 edition of the Live from the Archives CD supported the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

4 – Donating goods or services

Donating goods or services puts your company’s unique skills or products to work in support of the Great Lakes. Here are a few businesses that made in-kind donations in 2017:

  • Treating Volunteers to Gino’s East Pizza – Our volunteers work hard and, in 2017, Gino’s East restaurants wanted to say thanks. The famous restaurant chain gave a coupon for a free Gino’s East pizza to each volunteer who participated in Chicagoland September Adopt-a-Beach events. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate a job well done!
  • Locally-Sourced Treats from Shaw’s Crab House – Steve LaHaie, Shaw’s Crab House Senior Vice President, frequently features Great Lakes fish on the restaurant’s menu and seeks out as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible. The Great Blue Benefit, the Alliance’s annual fundraising event, began as a small fundraiser among friends hosted at Shaw’s Crab House here in Chicago. The event has grown over the past 15 years and the restaurant has continued as a generous supporter. In 2017, the team at Shaw’s donated much of the food featured at the Benefit, helping to ensure as much of the event proceeds as possible support our Great Lakes programs. That’s a delicious way to help the lakes!
Shaw's Crab House staff supporting the Alliance for the Great Lakes at the 2017 Great Blue Benefit.
Staff from Shaw’s Crab House prepare locally sourced treats for 2017 Great Blue Benefit attendees.
  • A Picture (or Video) is Worth a Thousand Words – Showing the beauty of the Great Lakes and problems they face can be more powerful than words. Several photographers and videographers donated their work to the Alliance for the Great Lakes last year. Each year, Lloyd DeGrane captures Great Lakes scenes near and far and donates many photos to the Alliance, from documenting industrial blight and pollution to capturing the scenic beauty of the wildest places in the region. Stephen Guenther supported the growth of the Alliance’s video library, teaching videography skills to Alliance for the Great Lakes staff and filming numerous events throughout the year. Ted Glasoe documents the beauty of Lake Michigan, his home lake, donating photos for Alliance publications as well as portion of the proceeds of his popular Lake Michigan calendar.
Lake Superior's Pictured Rocks by Lloyd DeGrane
Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior, photo by Lloyd DeGrane.
  • Chicago Yacht Club: A Perfect Place to Celebrate the Lakes – Boaters connect with the Great Lakes first-hand. In 2017, the members of the Columbia Yacht Club chose to give back to the lakes by donating their event space as the location of the Alliance’s annual Great Blue Benefit. On the Lake Michigan shoreline in downtown Chicago, the Club has generously hosted the Alliance and our supporters for our annual benefit event for the past several years. Donating the event space keeps event costs as low as possible and ensures that more of the event proceeds support our Great Lakes programs. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the lakes!
Columbia Yacht Club, location of the 2017 Great Blue Benefit.
The Columbia Yacht Club, the location for the 2017 Great Blue Benefit.

These are just a handful of our corporate partners! We are so grateful for the support of businesses and companies across the Great Lakes including MillerCoors, Solberg Manufacturing Inc., Grosvenor Capital Management, Robinson Industries, Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Exelon, The Gage Restaurant, and RMB Capital Management.

Thank you to all of the businesses that went above and beyond to help the Great Lakes in 2017! Interested in getting your business involved in 2018? To learn more about how you can help, contact Megan HilbrichAlliance for the Great Lakes Institutional Giving Manager