Bezos fund gives $12 million to LA nonprofits for green space in underserved areas

California

As part of its effort to combat the effects of climate change, officials for the Bezos Earth Fund backed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said on Monday, July 17, that it will donate $12 million to Pacoima Beautiful, TreePeople and other organizations in the Los Angeles area to create greening projects and parks for communities in need.

The fund, launched in 2020, is part of Bezos’ new Greening America’s Cities initiative which has promised to donate $400 million in grants to activists, scientists, companies and organizations who commit to creating access to parks, trees and gardens badly needed in urban environments.

”Green spaces are critical for people and the planet. The Bezos Earth Fund is proud to partner with local communities and government to expand urban green spaces,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, in a statement. “In partnership, this new initiative will support historically underserved communities, supporting their health and well-being.”

Amanda Eichel, managing director at Bezos Earth Fund; Andrew Steer, president and CEO of Bezos Earth Fund; Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley; Rep. Tony Cárdenas; Lauren Sánchez, vice chair of Bezos Earth Fund; Sen. Alex Padilla; White House Senior Advisor John Podesta; Bob Hertzberg, former Senate Majority Leader; and Lauren Sanchez, the senior climate advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom gather with  numerous funding grantees at Paxton Park in Pacoima. (Courtesy of Bezos Earth Fund)

Environmental nonprofit Pacoima Beautiful has received $3.5 million for its plan to transform the unused embankments along Pacoima Wash into a public space with amenities. Funds will cover construction costs, community organization and outreach, and professional development to secure additional financing and hiring of additional staff.

Another environmental nonprofit, the widely known TreePeople, which has long urged Los Angeles and Southern California cities to plant far more trees to create shade, cool communities, and fight global warming, will receive $1.9 million to plant about 4,250 trees in underserved communities across L.A.

The list of L.A. organizations receiving funding includes Hip Hop Caucus, GreenLatinos, Green Cities California, Urban Sustainability Directors Network, Trust for Public Land, ReGenesis, PolicyLink, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences Spatial Sciences Institute and the Equity Research Institute, and UCLA Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies.

Pacoima Wash in Pacoima. Courtesy of Bezos Earth Fund.
Pacoima Wash in Pacoima. (Courtesy of Bezos Earth Fund)

Bezos Earth Fund Vice Chair Lauren Sánchez announced the funding on July 17 in collaboration with White House Senior Advisor John Podesta, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, Congressman Tony Cárdenas, Bezos Earth Fund President and CEO Andrew Steer, Pacoima Beautiful Executive Director Veronica Padilla-Campos and Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Sustainability, Nancy Sutley.

“My community has long been on the front line of the climate crisis,” Cárdenas said in a statement. “Growing up in Pacoima, the air quality was so bad that we were prevented from playing outside.”

Other areas receiving funds are SE Asian Community Alliance which got $500,000 and will partner with the Los Angeles Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing Collaborative to launch community-driven planning to prevent the displacement of long-term residents adjacent to Taylor Yard; and East LA Community Corporation received $300,000 to partner with community farming organization Campos de Cultivo to complete the Lorena Terrace Community Garden and two additional green spaces.

Cardenas added: “Today, even as circumstances have improved, residents not only endure poor air quality but also extreme heat and drought. Fighting the climate crisis requires all hands on deck. … This $3.5 million investment in the Pacoima Wash will allow them to do so much more to better the lives of Valley families.”

More than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and that number is expected to grow. Numerous studies show that access to parks and other green spaces correlates to lower stress and other positive health outcomes.

The funding was announced as the federal government, under the Inflation Reduction Act, recently promised to grant $1.5 billion in funding to boost access to green spaces.

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