Changing Places, Changing Lives, Creating Leaders

| Richmond, CA

Groundwork Richmond, established in 2010, is one of 20 Trusts of the Groundwork USA network. The organization has established programs that benefit both the environment and the community in Richmond California, forming strong partnerships with local organizations and agencies to … Continued

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Groundwork Richmond: Greening the Urban Landscape

Groundwork Richmond, established in 2010, is one of 20 Trusts within the Groundwork USA network. The organization plays an integral role in developing the greenway, greening the urban landscape, engaging the community, and educating youth. Environmental justice is also central to Groundwork Richmond’s programs, which benefit both the environment and the local community. Groundwork Richmond has formed strong partnerships with local organizations and agencies to provide meaningful job training and workforce development to build the Richmond Greenway and enhance urban forestry.

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Science to Action: Urban Waters Education

| Los Angeles, CA

In 2013, UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IoES) partnered with LA Waterkeeper (LAW)  on an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant to develop a teaching curriculum for high school students at Jefferson High School in south Los Angeles in order … Continued

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Green Careers: Workforce Development and Job Training

| Baltimore, MD

Baltimore Center for Green Careers (BCGC) is a venture of the non-profit, Civic Works, whose mission it is to expand access to family-sustaining green careers for residents locked out of high quality jobs. Training programs were created through BCGC in … Continued

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Advancing One Water Through Arts and Culture: A Blueprint for Action

This report compiles informative case studies, focusing on programs that have successfully incorporated artists, art, and culture into their place-based, transformative approaches. These programs aimed to address affordability issues, make connections between people and their environment, promote holistic water resource management, increase community participation, mitigate and remediate damages, integrate community needs into infrastructure, and support community activism.

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Atlanta Watershed Learning Network: Educating and Empowering Communities to Advocate for Equity and Environmental Protections

Environmental Community Action, Inc (ECO-Action) – a grassroots organization that works with people to fight for their rights to clean air, land, and water – acts as a support system to the communities they serve by providing resources and creating partnerships with other organizations. They have developed many programs designed for educating and empowering the Proctor and Intrenchment Creek watershed communities to advocate for equity and environmental protections. Among their initiatives, ECO-Action is heavily involved in community education and advocacy towards the implementation of green infrastructure projects that address stormwater flooding issues and provide more livable neighborhoods for underserved communities.

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Youth Leadership to Solve the Pollution Problem

| Denver, CO

Over the last several years, a diverse group of stakeholders has undertaken a watershed planning effort for the urbanized section of Bear Creek in the Denver metropolitan area. Groundwork Denver is integrating two recommendations integral to the watershed plan: water … Continued

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RiverXchange: New Mexico Students Connect Globally as They Learn about the Rio Grande Watershed

RiverXchange—a school-based program that supports and supplements Common Core and 21st Century Standards—is designed to introduce water resources concepts to young people using a variety of fun methods that integrate writing, math, science, and physical activity. By interacting with models, reading relevant texts, learning from experts, and going on field trips, students learn about watersheds, river ecosystems, and the importance of water conservation. They also learn how to monitor water quality and calculate their own ecological footprints, then internalize these concepts by writing about them in their own words.

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Creative Engagement: Involving Youth in Community Solutions

Three projects from different organizations in the eastern United States are using creative methods to educate students about environmental issues in their communities and to empower urban youth to make a difference.  While the issues that the communities face are varied, each organization is engaging youth to raise awareness and to create solutions.

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Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martin Peña: Restoring an Ecosystem and Building Resilient Communities in Puerto Rico

El Caño Martin Peña (CMP) is a 3.75-mile-long tidal channel located within the San Juan Bay National Estuary in Puerto Rico, the only tropical estuary within the National Estuary Program. The degraded channel has threatened not only communities’ health, but the ecosystem as well. ENLACE engages in public education activities to promote an understanding of the impacts of environmental degradation, fostering critical consciousness and democratic action to support restoration efforts. The restoration of the estuarine tidal channel will allow for mangroves to flourish and increase biodiversity, improving resilience during storms and providing opportunities for tourism.

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Combining Service Learning and Recreation for Stewardship

| New Orleans

Service learning is a powerful tool for connecting people and their communities to local parks and natural areas. To celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, the REI Foundation partnered with the National Park Foundation to fund projects that introduce underserved, inner-city youth to their nearby national parks and engage them in service projects to improve them. The project purpose is to foster stewardship among participants, help them to discover opportunities for outdoor recreation, and instill the value of nature and our nations’ parks—both national and local.

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Sustainable Models for GI Maintenance

This report on Sustainable Models for Green Infrastructure Maintenance in the Great Lakes Region summarizes the findings of a 2016 convening in Buffalo, NY of local government, land bank, sewer district, nonprofit, landscape, and community and workforce development professionals from … Continued

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Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap

To understand the causes of this disparity, the Building Movement Project conducted the Nonprofits, Leadership, and Race survey with over 4,000 respondents. The study found few differences between white and people of color (POC) respondents in their aspirations or preparation for leadership roles—in fact people of color are more likely to be interested in becoming a nonprofit leader than whites. Survey respondents identified Boards of Directors and executive recruiters as key barriers to the hiring of more people of color executive directors/CEOs.

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An Equitable Water Future: a National Briefing Paper

This U.S. Water Alliance publication summarizes the overarching and regional challenges that demonstrate the need for more equitable approaches, then outlines the “three pillars of equity” based on USWA’s original research, as well as data from PolicyLink. The report goes … Continued

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Lummi Indian Business Council

| Bellingham, WA

LUMMI NATION YOUTH: WATER QUALITY, WATERSHEDS AND SALMON The Lummi Nation Youth: Water Quality, Watersheds and Salmon project is a project that seeks to engage fifth grade students at the Lummi Nation School in active stewardship of the environment, focusing … Continued

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Urban Waters Civic Action Project

| Los Angeles, CA

Funded by an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) joined with UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IoES), and the LA Waterkeeper (LAW) to form a unique partnership between scientists, public policy professionals, and educators.  Together, they created the Urban Waters Civic Action … Continued

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Reducing Plastic Pollution in an Urban Watershed

| Keyport, NJ

The project will identify, reduce, and prevent plastic from reaching the lower Passaic River watershed and Newark Bay complex. This goal will be achieved through surface water sample collection for microplastics, followed by public outreach and education. Student interns from … Continued

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Gentrification and Residential Mobility in Philadelphia

By focusing on Philadelphia and comparing this city’s mobility rates with other gentrification and displacement studies, it becomes evident that the effects of gentrification are extremely complex and can affect populations in a variety of ways depending on income level and other demographics. 

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Saturday Environmental Academy

| Washington, DC

The Saturday Environmental Academy is a free, weekend-based, out-of-school-time environmental education program for 7th and 8th grade students from low-income, urban communities. The goal of SEA is to stimulate interest in and provide a fundamental education about the environment, and … Continued

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Exploring the Green Infrastructure Workforce

This study was produced by Jobs for the Future (JFF) as part of NatureWORKS, a national initiative to understand the jobs, careers, skills, credentials, and potential of the U.S. green infrastructure workforce; and was funded by the U.S. Forest Service’s … Continued

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Leaders in Community Engagement

| Atlanta, GA

With its roots in community struggle for environmental justice, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA has grown into a dynamic watershed education, advocacy and stewardship organization. WAWA arose from community efforts to halt discriminatory waste water treatment practices in West … Continued

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Urban Waters Community Improvement Plan

| Malden, Medford, and Everett, MA

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is dedicated to restoring and protecting the most urbanized watershed in Massachusetts. It partners with federal, state, and local agencies, using science—including citizen science—to influence public policy. Its signature programs include a 15-year old … Continued

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Creative & Inclusive Community Engagement

| Seattle, WA

The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) is a coalition of ten groups working to promote the health of the Duwamish RIver, a 5.5 mile long Superfund site that flows through Seattle’s Duwamish Valley. DRCC/TAG works to implement effective, meaningful, … Continued

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Building the Future by Uncovering the Past

Most people are familiar with archeology as a field that explores ancient civilizations by uncovering artifacts. However, archeology has applications in modern urban locations as well. Cities change quickly, and in the process, the lives and stories of residents—and even whole neighborhoods and rivers—can be buried or substantially altered. Archeology can uncover the stories that never made it to the history books, and can also help communities to discover and tell their own stories and histories.

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Workforce Development: Empowering Baltimore’s Residents and Shaping Futures

The Patapsco River flows for 39 miles through central Maryland and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. The last 10 miles of the Patapsco River form an estuary that is home to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Historically, the Inner Harbor was an important seaport and is still an essential component to Baltimore’s economy by being home to one of the city’s largest tourist attractions.

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Youth Engagement on the Rio Grande: A Refuge for the Neighborhood

| Taos, NM

The Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, located in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the first US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) refuge in the Southwest to be designated an “urban refuge.” With funding from the US EPA Urban Waters Program, Amigos Bravos partnered with area organizations to engage youth directly in water quality monitoring in the Rio Grande and adjacent irrigation ditches. Many of the youth had never seen the river before, much less interacted with it.

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Albuquerque youth learn about stormwater and watershed health

Informing Our Future by Understanding Our Past

| Washington, DC

The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum explores issues impacting urban contemporary communities. Its approach starts with research and documentation of urban life and history organized around the concerns that are relevant to the largely African American residents in the local river neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, where the museum is located; then expands to metropolitan Washington, DC area and to like urban communities. Through its innovative research focus, exhibitions, and education programs on the issue of urban waterways, the museum has actively encouraged community investment and stewardship.

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Visitors to the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum explore the groundbreaking original exhibition, “Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement” part of the museum’s ongoing long range urban waterways initiative. On view Oct 2012─Nov 2013, “Reclaiming the Edge” examined the consequences of the abuse of waterways worldwide and the efforts by communities to restore them. Photos: Susanna Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/ Smithsonian Institution

Youth and Community Engagement Changes Places and Lives

| Washington, DC

Groundwork Anacostia, a “trust” under the umbrella of Groundwork USA, is based in the District of Columbia’s Ward 7, which has the longest portion of riverbank—including four out of the five tributaries that feed the Anacostia River. The neighborhood has a large amount of green space in the form of National Park Service (NPS) historical preserves, Civil War sites, and city parkland. Groundwork Anacostia’s main focus has been to improve this parkland, as well as local derelict lots and vacant land, in order to improve quality of life and access for neighborhood residents, while also offering innovative education and job training programs for area youth.

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Groundwork Anacostia Green Team youth paddle the Potomac River

The Duwamish Valley Youth Corps

| Seattle, WA

The Duwamish is Seattle’s only river. It is a 5.5 mile long Superfund site that flows through Seattle’s Duwamish Valley – a highly developed urban and industrial center south of downtown. In 2014, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) founded the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps (DVYC) with support from the Forest Service’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership. The DVYC supports environmental improvement projects identified by residents in the Duwamish River Valley. With a focus on urban forestry, river restoration, and green infrastructure, the program is equal parts environmental science, job skills training, stewardship, and hands-­on restoration.

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Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

Reawakened Beauty: Place-Based Learning on the Jordan River

| Salt Lake County, UT

In 2008, many Utah organizations came together to develop a long-range plan for the Jordan River that laid out a vision for a revitalized river corridor. The Jordan River Commission was created to spearhead this plan, and it has been successful in building partnerships with organizations now working together to implement this vision. These collaborations have led to a new public appreciation for the river corridor as a recreational amenity and opportunity for conservation, environmental education, and community building.

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Jordan River, Salt Lake County, Utah. Photo: Jordan River Commission.

Stormwater Messaging Posters

These posters were part of a program funded by EPA’s Urban Waters Small Grants. The Northern Middlesex Council of Governments and Merrimack River Watershed Council created these posters in the language of area residents–working with the community to idenify the … Continued

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River Voices (2015) Diversity & Inclusiveness

This issue of River Network’s quarterly newsletter describes how various river and water-focused organizations around the country are working to diversify their organizations and become more inclusive in their work. Download this resource

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Green 2.0: The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations

This is a comprehensive report on diversity in the environmental movement. It surveyed 191 environmental non-profits, 74 government environmental agencies, and 28 leading environmental grant making foundations to investigate their gender and racial diversity composition. Download this resource

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River Ambassadors – Future of the L.A. River

| Los Angeles, CA

Youth from different areas in Los Angeles are creating positive change along the LA River through the River Ambassador program; a youth leadership and education program of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). MRCA wanted to try out a program that was focused solely on the LA River and the factors impacting the health of the river. With EPA Urban Waters funding, MRCA was able to make this a reality.

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Multifaceted Methods Help Restore the Mystic River

| Arlington, MA

Momentum for improving the Mystic River got started in 1969 when various agencies and local planning departments published a report outlining plans to tackle the high levels of pollution and improve recreational opportunities on the Mystic River Reservation, a publicly-owned nature preserve. By the early 1980’s, greenways with bike and pedestrian trails started to be installed.

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Environmental Justice for South Wilmington, Delaware

Flooding in South Wilmington neighborhood is a severe and well documented issue. South Wilmington is situated in a 100-year flood plain and surrounded on three sides by the Christina River. Knowing the extent of these issues, the City of Wilmington applied for and received funding in 2013 to repurpose three brownfields sites into a wetlands park in order to alleviate flooding.

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Vacant Lots to Greenways in Kansas City

Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) was created as an alliance of diverse partners who share a vision and work collectively to conserve natural areas, connect people to nature and convene partners. Their mission is creating multiple benefits for people by focusing on projects that save Kansas City’s valuable natural resources and give them back to benefit the community—“ecological democracy.”

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A River for All – Fighting for Environmental Justice and Health Equity in Seattle

In 2013 and after 12 years in the making, EPA released its Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Superfund site, starting the clock on a 105-day public review and comment period. This highly technical document recommended a mix of technologies for addressing the river’s toxic sediments and meeting the four objectives of the cleanup, which include protecting the health of people who consume seafood.

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Restoring a Watershed One Community at a Time: Groundwork NOLA

In a city like New Orleans, community is everything. Walks down the street, one can simply speak to everyone passing by, and everyone would keep an eye out for one another. Everyone was each other’s neighbor. Eight years ago, prior to Hurricane Katrina, walking around the Lower Ninth Ward meant passing several homes on every block.

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