Salazar Center announces Thriving Cities Challenge finalists, expanded funding support – Source

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The Thriving Cities Challenge was created to fund innovative nature-based solutions that improve the equity, health and resilience of urban communities in North America.

Thriving Cities Challenge logoFifteen teams from across North America have been selected as finalists for the Thriving Cities Challenge, an incentive prize launched by Colorado State University’s Salazar Center for North American Conservation in Fall 2020. Up to five teams will be chosen as winners following a virtual pitch event in September 2021 as part of the Center’s third annual symposium.

“We’re excited to have such a strong group of finalists focused on innovative work in cities all over North America,” said Salazar Center Director Beth Conover. “We look forward to building a community of interest focused on urban climate resilience, green space and racial equity.”

The Thriving Cities Challenge is the Center’s second annual Conservation Impact Prize and was created to fund innovative nature-based solutions that improve the equity, health and resilience of urban communities in North America.

New to this year’s challenge, each finalist team will receive a $10,000 capacity-building grant this summer, along with training and mentorship opportunities to help strengthen and further develop proposed projects.

Increased funding support for teams

Following the pitch event next fall, winning teams will be selected based on the potential to advance climate resilience and racial equity and will be awarded $50,000 to $100,000 to implement their ideas.

Funding for the challenge has been provided by the VF Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, the Bullitt Foundation, the Blackstone Ranch Institute and an anonymous donor.

The 15 finalists were chosen from a pool of 52 applicants, whose work represents a range of community-led efforts across the United States and Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico, as well as several Tribal nations and Indigenous groups.

Proposals were reviewed and scored by a diverse committee of expert evaluators, drawn from leadership in philanthropy, academia and the nonprofit and for-profit worlds.

  • “Rooting & blooming: Cultivating a fruitful commons at Festival Beach Food Forest & Community Garden,” Festival Beach Food Forest in Austin, Texas
  • “Empowering community-based organizations for green infrastructure planning and development,” Council for Watershed Health in Los Angeles
  • “Anchoring community, resilience and equity through Rogell Park,” EcoWorks in Detroit
  • “NYC foodways collective,” Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice in the Bronx, New York
  • “Catalyzing watershed-scale change and preserving Puebloan lifeways in the Middle Rio Grande Corridor,” Trees, Water & People in the Middle Rio Grande urban corridor of New Mexico
  • “Resilience Ecology Shade Transit, REST, stops for community climate justice, resilience and health,” LINK Houston in Houston
  • “Equitable engagement in climate resiliency through the Albuquerque Backyard Refuge Program,” Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • “Addressing climate injustice through community-led, nature-based solutions,” GreenRoots in Chelsea, Massachusetts
  • “Cleveland’s urban tree hub,” Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Cleveland
  • “Witness trees,” Turner Station Conservation Teams in Baltimore
  • “Montetik: The wooded crown that protects San Cristobal de Las Casas, a magical city,” Pronatura Sur in Chiapas, Mexico
  • “Connecting the C’s: Color, class, climate, conservation and collaboration for a thriving community,” Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization in Gulfport, Mississippi
  • “Alley activation as a neighborhood-based sustainability strategy,” Canfield Consortium in Detroit
  • “From redlining to green: Natural solutions through small business leadership,” National Wildlife Federation in Denver
  • “Connecting canopies regional urban forestry conservation collaboration,” Blueprint Foundation in Portland, Oregon.

The Salazar Center for North American Conservation at Colorado State University works to support and advance the health and connectivity of the natural systems and landscapes of North America—be they urban or rural; working or wildlands; public or private. The Center brings together thought leaders, resources, and diverse perspectives to inform an intersectional approach to conservation challenges, building bridges that connect academic research, community practice, and policy development. Learn more about the Center at salazarcenter.colostate.edu.

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