EAST LANSING, Mich. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has announced a $5.9 million investment over three years in the Michigan State University Land Policy Program to support land use policy research, education and innovation in partnership with Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a Lansing-based private policy research firm.
From helping voters have better information to choose candidates equipped to deal with sprawl and farmland preparation, to preserving green areas, to giving cities tools to get the most out of properties and services, the grant will power Michigan’s momentum in moving land use issues forward.
“Michigan is unique; no other state can boast of this kind of public-private partnerships infrastructure in land use policy” said Soji Adelaja, Hannah Distinguished Professor in land policy and director of the MSU Land Policy Program, the principle partner in implementing the grant. “Success in addressing land use issues like sprawl, traffic congestion, and resource conservation is critical to Michigan’s future prosperity and a broad consensus is forming around that premise.”
“We hope this grant will help Michigan State further develop the tools necessary to help the people of Michigan make wise land use decisions into the future,” said Rick Foster, Kellogg Foundation vice president for Food System and Rural Development.
The grant will build upon the program People and Land (PAL), a statewide partnership which has played a major role in initiating change in Michigan land use policy.The PAL approach focuses on educating citizens and policy makers about land use issues, informing them of innovative policy tools and alternative options, and convening organizations to understand various perspectives and implement appropriate land use agendas.
PAL was a key architect of work done by the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council, a bi-partisan panel appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm that made more than 150 recommendations in 2003 to Michigan legislators and local and state policy makers.
Municipal leaders have gained easier access to valuable training and information in helping them make land use decisions. Cities have been given innovative tools to take control of their destinies by acquiring and improving abandoned properties, or combining their resources to provide services.
Bill Rustem, the president of Lansing-based PSC which directed previous PAL work, will serve with Adelaja as co-director of the Phase III PAL work.
“PAL’s accomplishments have been second to none in truly raising the public’s and the media’s awareness of land use issues in both the political and policy arenas,” Rustem said. “But much more needs to be done. MSU’s Land Policy Program is positioned to take the lead in demonstrating how an engaged university and creative faculty can support Michigan communities and government with research-based information as they work to make smarter land use decisions.”
“We are excited to have the generous support of the Kellogg Foundation to enhance our work with the people of Michigan to find innovative solutions to one of the most critical issues affecting both quality of life and economic competitiveness,” said MSU President Lou Anna Kimsey Simon. “In the spirit of a 21st century land-grant university, we will build on our partnership through PAL and will align our research and engagement priorities to bring new knowledge to bear on the important issues of land use and land use policy.”
The new PAL funding will also help establish a new competitive higher education land use research grants program that would support faculty from MSU, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University in pursuing relevant research to address the needs of stakeholders in land use.Additionally, it will help recruit a new core team, Land Policy Extension Educators, to address local land use education needs.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation programming activities center around the common vision of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts responsibility for self, family, community and societal well-being; and has the capacity to be productive and to help create nurturing families, responsive institutions and healthy communities.
The Foundation targets its grants toward specific areas:health, food systems and rural development; youth and education; and philanthropy and volunteerism.