Founders Sarah Szurpicki, 28, and Abby Wilson, 30, started the organization, based in Detroit, with a mere $15,000 and have since transformed it into a growing online community with over 1,500 members and over $150,000 in resources thanks to generous donations from groups such as the John R. Oishei Foundation in Buffalo and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint.
GLUE operates in industrial cites plagued with racial segregation, declining populations, below standard pubic transportation systems, and low-performing schools. Founder Sarah Szurpicki is optimistic of the group, who started working with a $120,000 budget.
“Fortunately, our cities also have communities of people who see the possibility of a Rust Belt renaissance and who are working incredibly hard in a variety of ways to make these places better,” said the Royal Oak Director.
The four principles of GLUE as defined by the organization are:
- Urbanism: Cities are our world's economic drivers. Decision makers cannot afford to underestimate their value nor overlook their needs.
- Regionalism: Great Lakes urban centers need to overcome outlooks of despair and isolation by forging a shared perspective and developing strength in numbers.
- Storytelling: White papers alone cannot propel an agenda, particularly for the emerging generation of leadership. No need is expressed more powerfully than via human narrative.
- Building Networks: Connecting people and institutions who share challenges and objectives will foster regional collaboration and transfer examples of success throughout the region.
This March, GLUE sponsored a summit in Milwaukee where young individuals 18-40 can come and freely express their concerns in regard to public policy on the local, state, and federal levels.
“If we are better at embracing our shared destiny and cooperating (within metropolitan regions and states), we have an incredible opportunity to regain our status as an economic and political powerhouse, on a global scale,” Szurpicki says.