Institute for Sustainable Communities

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Institute for Sustainable Communities

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) is an independent, tax-exempt, nonprofit organization whose primary work includes finding community-based solutions to reducing climate pollution in the U.S. and China, building the capacity of civil society in the Balkans, and helping communities along the U.S. Gulf Coast and China recover from disasters. ISC provides training, technical assistance and financial support to communities, nonprofits/nongovernmental organizations, businesses and local governments.[1]

Founded in 1991 by Madeleine Kunin, ISC’s early work connected civic participation with environmental management in the countries of the former Soviet Union. ISC has since managed 77 projects in 22 countries, and is funded by private foundations, corporations, individuals and government agencies. Major current programs include the Guangdong Environmental partnership and U.S.-China Partnership for Climate Action in China, the Climate Leadership Academy and Gulf Coast Sustainable Communities Network in the U.S., the Civil Society Advocacy Initiative in Serbia, and the Civil Society Strengthening Program in Kosovo.


Based in Montpelier, Vermont, ISC has offices in Washington, DC, in China (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou), Serbia (Belgrade) and Kosovo (Pristina).[2] ISC works with local partners to design and implement projects that mobilize communities to bring clean air, water, and land to their communities; adopt energy efficiency measures and conserve resources; reduce the causes and adapt to the local effects of climate disruption[3] strengthen their civil society institutions to become influential partners alongside business and government;[4] or rebuild sustainably after disasters.[5] By combining technical expertise and leadership training with strategic investments in local organizations, ISC's approach ensures solutions emerge from within the community, rather than being imposed from the outside.


ISC has founded and/or mentored organizations in the countries in which it has worked, including the Fund for Sustainable Development in Russia,[6] the Successful Communities Institute in Ukraine,[7] and FOCUS, a new grassroots organization based in Mississippi.[8]

Approximately 83% of ISC's $9 million budget in FY 09 supported programming.[9]

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