Guiding Principles

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  • Sustainability

    The harmonizing of economic, environmental and social interests, meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. Progress towards sustainability is rooted in the actions and decisions of individuals, private enterprises and local communities, and a special focus on the role of business to help transition to sustainability is a key approach to be encouraged;

  • Organizational effectiveness

    A commitment to continuous rigor, accountability, learning and improvement, and an alignment of programmatic, management, operational and financial capacities in support of clear goals and objectives

  • Collaboration

    Efforts to bring together multiple, diverse stakeholders to develop solutions that address complex problems in the region

  • Leadership and key allies

    Energetic, visionary champions and leaders that have or can establish a broad base of support.

The Foundation has identified two constituencies of particular interest for its work:

Young people:  Fred and Barbara Erb cared deeply about investing in young people within the family business and in their personal philanthropy.  In light of the significant educational and employment challenges facing youth today, the Foundation is interested in efforts to serve, engage, or educate young people (teens and young adults) through the arts or environmental activities.

People of color: The Foundation has a strong commitment to diversity, and recognizes that the interests and voices of racial and ethnic communities have historically been underrepresented in both the arts and the environment. Due to the large concentration of low-income communities of color in Detroit, and the disproportional impact of numerous environmental issues on these populations, the Foundation desires to support efforts that engage and benefit the most marginalized segments of the community. This is a topic of particular interest within the environmental movement where progress has been lagging.

Other Potential Partners

In exceptional cases, the Foundation may be open to partnerships — which may or may not involve grant support — with organizations working in other fields (i.e., not arts or environmental groups) and whose work may be enhanced by bringing the arts and the environment into those disciplines. The Foundation sees this as an opportunity to strengthen its impact and explore its goals through new partnerships.

The Erb Family and the Erb Family Foundation have helped create valuable academic resources at the University of Michigan in the form of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise and the Water Center. We are interested in connecting these resources with the Foundation’s grantees and mission-related initiatives where practicable.