Restoration of a wildlife sanctuary damaged by the Gulf oil spill, conservation internships for urban teenagers, and promotion of sustainable ranching are only three of the 43 projects in 27 states that will receive a total of nearly $1.1 million in the latest round of TogetherGreen Innovation Grants. This will mark the third year of TogetherGreen funding to facilitate people-powered conservation action in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Projects are selected for innovation, potential gains in habitat, water, and energy conservation, and opportunities to engage new audiences in helping the environment. TogetherGreen is funded by a $20 million grant from Toyota over five years.
TogetherGreen Innovation Grants provide seed money for projects that use innovative approaches and technologies to engage new and diverse audiences in conservation and tackle pressing conservation problems. Innovation Grants enable awardees and their partner organizations to inspire, equip, and engage people to tackle environmental concerns and improve the health of their communities.
“The conservation solutions pioneered by TogetherGreen Innovation Grant winners are inspiring models of both ingenuity and conservation commitment,” said Audubon President David Yarnold. “Each project represents an investment in our shared environment and future – and an opportunity for many of our nation’s most creative and dedicated individuals and communities to transform their dreams into effective conservation action. As our alliance with Toyota shows, when organizations work together, they can magnify conservation results."
Since 2008, the TogetherGreen Innovation Grants program has awarded over $3.5 million to more than 130 environmental projects nationwide. The 2010 awardees are receiving grants ranging from $5,000 - $66,100. Funds were awarded to partnerships between Audubon groups (local Chapters or programs of Audubon’s large national network) and organizations in their communities – with more than 125 partner organizations involved in Innovation Grant projects in the coming year. Most of the projects involve audiences previously underserved or not engaged in environmental action, from urban youth to rural ranchers.
The Innovation Grants program not only supports innovation in communities across the country; it also strives to build the capacity of conservation professionals. In addition to financial support, grantees receive opportunities for professional development, including a multi-day workshop held at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and online trainings. Audubon staff provides further support, including communications assistance, which leads to more public recognition at the local, state, and national level, and grantees are networked with each other so that they can share best practices and learn from others.
Audubon’s partner groups benefit considerably from Innovation Grants, too. As Teola Brady, Environmental Director for the Yomba Shoshone Tribe, said, “We are pleased to be partners with Audubon Nevada Important Bird Area Program in participating in the Sagebrush Celebration Project. We see this project as an excellent opportunity to help expand the way that tribal families experience, understand and participate in the conservation of sagebrush habitats. It will also expose them to the various ways that the Upper Reese River Valley – which is right in their backyard – is important to their lives and the fabric of their local community and culture.”
2009 Innovation Grantees helped tens of thousands of people take conservation action in their communities, including Los Angeles kids who cultivated and planted native species in degraded coastal habitat, Denver students who assessed and reduced their schools’ electricity bills, and Dayton businesses that improved water quality in Ohio’s rivers. Grant recipients leveraged their grants by over four million dollars through matching and in-kind support, allowing them to reach more people and deliver even greater conservation results.
“Toyota has a long history of utilizing technical innovation to preserve natural resources, reduce waste, and improve sustainability.” said Patricia Salas Pineda, Toyota’s group vice president of national philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation. “We are so proud of the TogetherGreen program and the incredible results it has produced in communities across the U.S. We know this latest group of Innovation Grants will continue to have a tremendous positive impact.”
For complete details about the 2010 TogetherGreen Innovation Grants projects, please visit: www.togethergreen.org/grants. Below is a list of the 2010 Innovation Grants projects by state.