Who We Are

About Us

Mission, Vision, & Impact

Delta Institute collaborates with communities to solve complex environmental challenges throughout the Midwest. We address Midwestern environmental, economic, and climate challenges today, so that our home and region are more resilient, equitable, and innovative tomorrow.

Delta exists because environmental, economic, and climate issues hit communities—urban and rural—through disinvestment, systemic inequity, and policy decisions. We collaborate at the community level to solve our home region’s new and legacy issues, by focusing on the self-defined goals and needs of our partners.

Our work takes us to population centers like Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit; to mid-sized cities such as Gary and South Bend, Indiana; to Great Lakes coastal towns like Michigan City, Indiana and Muskegon, Michigan; and to rural communities and watersheds with tens of thousands of acres of farmland and waterways across our region. It’s quite likely that you—or someone you know—lives, works, or passes through a community that Delta has helped since our founding in 1998.

Acting now is not only a pressing climate change issue, but also an issue of equity and environmental justice.

Organizational Belief Statement / Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Delta Institute can only be successful in its mission if we direct our capacities, power, and collaborations toward creating greater equity and reversing institutional racism. We regard environmental challenges as intersectional issues that reveal disparities in how we allocate resources and value communities. We envision a region where all communities and landscapes thrive.

At our core, we are an organization that is defined by its people and communities accelerating change, it is written into our very name. We do not minimize the challenges inherent to creating change, and believe it is part of our mission to interrogate ugly histories and current realities, and constantly learn, test, and collaborate until a new, better way of doing things is the standard.

We believe that the solutions to our most difficult equity and environmental challenges are already being articulated in the communities that are impacted, and we seek to be a strong partner in securing resources, technical assistance, and government capacity to amplify and accelerate these remedies.

To that end, we commit to building and sustaining an organization that represents all communities, to creating an atmosphere where we can bring our full selves to our work, and to directing our energy, diverse perspectives, and broad capacities to the task of renewing our region. We have formally engaged in Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work since 2016 and created an ad hoc DEI committee including our staff, board, and auxiliary board in April 2019. Delta Institute has annually reviewed all DEI materials, authentically including our staff, Board, and Associate Board in the process. Our Statement of Commitment to DEI is reviewed and re-approved annually by Delta Institute’s Board at the September quarterly meeting. We approached this as a process of continuous improvement, reflection and learning with the goal of integrating DEI into our programs and operations.

Please take a moment to learn more about our policies, approaches, and learnings to ensure that all communities, persons, partners, and Midwesterners authentically manifest in all stages of our programmatic efforts and related impact.

Delta Institute Boards and Staff visit Project Partners at South Merill Community Garden in Chicago

Delta Institute Group Photo at 2021 Virtual Mixer

Delta Institute Group Photo at 2022 Summer Mixer on the Chicago River

Delta Institute Staff Retreat 2022

Please spend a moment with our project map illustrating project locations throughout the Midwest.

Google Maps

Transparency and

Our partners, stakeholders, and donors deserve full transparency on the impact, financial standing, and organizational health of Delta Institute. Please review our financial and transparency documents, and contact us with any questions you may have.

delta institute receives the highest ratings possible for financial management and transparency: Charity Navigator Four Star; Candid. Platinum Transparency Seal

News & Press

In chronological order is Delta Institute’s recent local, regional, and national media coverage. Questions? Please contact Sidney Freitag-Fey.

April 29, 2024: Northwest Indiana Times

Merrillville to plant hundreds of trees in community apple orchards

The City of Merrillville, IN, a long-term project partner of Delta Institute’s, is planting orchards as part of a robust tree planting campaign–which is part of Delta’s Northwest Indiana Tree Planting Consortium efforts.

November 9, 2023: Block Club Chicago

How Can South Shore’s Lakefront Be Better Protected From Climate Change?

Delta Institute introduced its state-supported flooding and erosion “resiliency” project to a few dozen South Shore neighbors this week by sharing research taking place in the neighborhood, the city and beyond.

October 17, 2023: New York Times

As Coal Plants Shutter, a Chance to Redevelop ‘the Gates of Hell’

Delta Institute’s coal plant redevelopment  and economic development projects are referenced and CEO Bill Schleizer is quoted in this article exploring how developers are combining new strategies with state and federal funds to turn decayed power plants once considered a blemish into potential assets for economic growth.

October 16, 2023: PBS Chicago WTTW

Brandon Johnson Launches City-Wide Compost Pilot Program to Boost Chicago’s Low Recycling Rate

The City of Chicago announced that for the first time, residents can bring food waste to one of 15 locations across the city and dispose of it in a green bin. This inaugural program stems from a study released in July 2021 of the City’s waste strategy authored by Delta Institute urged expanding ways for residents and food industry businesses to compost organic waste instead of the trash.

September 20, 2023: EPA Press Office

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Commitment to Advancing Water Equity and Access for All

At the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 Meeting in New York, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced that EPA is committing to address pressing water challenges in 1,500 disadvantaged communities across the country. EPA’s Advancing Water Equity and Access for All Commitment will invest $500 million, including funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for technical assistance to help communities invest in water infrastructure to close America’s water equity gap. Delta Institute was referenced as an Environmental Finance Center for EPA Region 5.

September 20, 2023: State of Indiana Governor's Office

Recipients Announced for 2023 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence

Delta Institute and the Michigan City Sanitary District won the Indiana Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for Land Use/Conservation on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 for our Cheney Run Wetland Restoration project. The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence are Indiana’s most prestigious environmental recognition awards. The selection process is highly competitive, and only one award per category is presented each year.

September 14, 2023: EIN Presswire

Finalists Announced for 2023 BOOST Awards for Midwestern Sustainable Entrepreneurs

Four sustainability-focused start-ups were announced as Finalists for 2023 BOOST, hosted by Delta Institute and the Delta Emerging Leaders associate board. This annual event serves as platform to celebrate and build a community to support unique start-ups that promote sustainability, climate action, and environmental justice. Over the past 11 years, BOOST has awarded nearly $100,000 to support 20 entrepreneurs.

March 23, 2023: EIN Presswire

Midwest Experts to Discuss Regional Infrastructure and Long-Term Planning for Climate and Community Impact

On April 4, 2023, Delta Institute held its annual Green Soapbox virtual event, where we had experts from multiple Midwestern cities participate in a panel discussion focused on the theme of Regional Infrastructure for Climate & Community Impact.

December 14, 2022: Waste Dive

Chicago looks to turn the page on recycling challenges, accelerate progress on waste plan

Delta Institute’s CEO Bill Schleizer weighs in on waste management and how Chicago can re-envision what materials management could look like, while ultimately turning waste into a resource.

November 2, 2022: EIN Presswire

Rewilding Acres and EcoShip win 2022 BOOST Awards for Midwestern innovation from Delta Institute

On October 27, 2022, Delta held its annual BOOST event, where we awarded two sustainability-focused start-ups, Rewilding Acres and EcoShip, $5,000 each to help them get to the next level of impact.

October 17, 2023: EPA Press Office

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Selection of 29 EPA Environmental Finance Centers to Help Communities Access Funds for Infrastructure Projects

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the selection of 29 Environmental Finance Centers (EFCs), which includes Delta Institute that will help communities across the country access federal funding for infrastructure and greenhouse gas reduction projects that improve public health and environmental protection.

September 19, 2022: YouTube

Expanding Chicago Grass-Fed Beef Market Drivers in the Greater Chicago Foodshed

Since 2019, Delta Institute and the Wallace Center at Winrock International’s Pasture Project have collaborated on assessing grass-fed beef value chains in the state of Illinois. This webinar wraps up our project and walks through resources we’ve created to help move more Illinois raised, grass-fed beef in the Chicago foodshed. 

August 4, 2022: Harvey World Herald

Harvey to pilot new market-based approach to stormwater management

Delta’s CEO, Bill Schleizer, was quoted on municipal and community-based green stormwater infrastructure, along with mention of Delta’s Green Infrastructure Designs Guide that provides resources and information on how to implement GI in communities like Harvey, IL.

November 15, 2021: PBS WTTW

The Entire US, Not Just Chicago, Is Bad at Recycling. The EPA Wants to Change That

“Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, which manages the city’s recycling program, welcomed the federal initiative, according to spokeswoman Mimi Simon, who called the actions presented in the strategy “critical steps” to improving recycling in Chicago. The city is in the midst of reviewing dozens of suggestions proposed in a recent waste management study conducted by the Delta Institute, the results of which were released in July. ‘”The goals outlined by the EPA dovetail with the recommendations outlined in the Delta Institute’s waste strategy, many of which we are in the process of developing,” Simon said, “including reducing contamination in recycled materials through public outreach and education.”‘

September 2, 2021: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wolf’s carbon-cutting plan ‘in the public interest,’ review board finds

Delta Institute is canvassing communities for strategies to support them in economic diversification and environmental justice efforts as part of our Pennsylvania Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative strategy/assessment undertaking.

July 31, 2021: Curious City, WBEZ, Chicago NPR Affiliate

10 Things To Know About Chicago’s New Waste Strategy

Delta Institute’s CEO Bill Schleizer and Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer Angela Tovar participated in a interview covering the 2021 City of Chicago Waste Strategy.

July 20, 2021: Reset, WBEZ, Chicago NPR Affiliate

Reset: New Study Offers Ideas For Improving Recycling In Chicago

Delta Institute’s CEO Bill Schleizer and Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer Angela Tovar participated in a interview covering the 2021 City of Chicago Waste Strategy.

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