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A Win for Trees & Communities: Faith in Place Receives U.S. Forest Service Funding for Tree Equity

Oct 6, 2023 | Affiliate Action, Blog |

From Faith in Place, by Carla Aldana

EXCITING NEWS: We are honored to announce that Faith in Place, the Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light, has been awarded a historic level of funding to expand tree equity and forestry workforce development in disadvantaged communities across our three-state region.

The federal grant funding from the U.S. Forest Service through the Inflation Reduction Act will primarily be regranted to partners across our three states in disadvantaged communities to increase equitable access to trees and the many benefits they provide to our planet and in urban communities.

“Our faith partners are like healthy trees – standing tall and strong in their communities. Their roots are deep, their trunks wide and strong to withstand the greatest of gales, their branches reach out, and their towering presence provides homes, shade, shelter, and nourishment for all who come near,” said Rev. Brian Sauder, Executive Director of Faith in Place at an event celebrating the U.S Forest Service grant on September 16.

At Faith in Place, we take great pride in our collaborative efforts with local organizations and partners who share our dedication to creating healthier, thriving communities. We actively engage with houses of worship, youth groups, and various partners to enhance green spaces through a multifaceted approach encompassing education, funding, and hands-on support from our exceptional team.

An example of our work includes holding educational workshops on food forests and urban gardening in Waukegan, IL to assess community interest in implementing a food forest. Waukegan is excited to see more trees to bring food sovereignty to their community. Through these workshops, Faith in Place and Chicago Region Trees Initiative collaborated to start tree planting at Most Blessed Trinity Parish – Holy Family Church in Waukegan where 10 trees were planted with 60 middle school students’ help. 26 trees were planted at John Lewis Middle School in Waukegan with the help of around 100 students. These collective efforts have laid the foundation to expand our work to enhance green spaces, fostering stronger, more sustainable communities.

With the U.S Forest Service Grant, Faith in Place will regrant $1.6 million over five years for “Tree Equity and Forestry workforce” projects across Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Projects will be developed and implemented by community-based organizations and other partners, including houses of worship and faith-based organizations, located in and serving “disadvantaged communities” according to the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) from the White House Council of Environmental Quality.

Stay tuned for more information about the grant application process and for upcoming webinars! (Coming in early 2024). If you would like to receive updates about the Faith in Place Tree Equity and Forestry Workforce grant application process, please sign up here.

Finally, as the Inflation Reduction Act is fully put into effect, Faith in Place is dedicated to making federal funding as transparent as possible for all of our partners. Register today for our 2023 Green Team Summit! During Session 3: Federal Funding Opportunities for Houses of Worship, we will discuss some of the ways your community may be able to take advantage of federal funding opportunities in the coming years.

“Trees are magic. They can transform our communities and planet, and we have the privilege of witnessing this through our work.” -Rev. Brian Sauder, Executive Director Faith in Place.

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