Community Foundation gets Bezos Earth Fund grant for green spaces in underserved neighborhoods in Wilmington area

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The Delaware Community Foundation received a $500,000 grant from the Bezos Earth Fund to support “urban greening” in the Wilmington area. Greening America’s Cities initiative is a new $400 million commitment to create more equitable access to green spaces in underserved U.S. communities.

“We are so grateful to receive this funding and are honored to work with such strong community-led initiatives in Wilmington to ensure greater access to green spaces and healthy environments,” said Sarah Hench, DCF executive vice president for strategic engagement. “We believe communities are strongest when all people have the opportunity to thrive.”

This grant will enable the DCF to host a Bezos Earth Fund Community Fellow to partner with and support organizations working on urban greening projects in Wilmington, including those funded by the Bezos Earth Fund.

In alignment with the DCF’s Healthy Communities Delaware network (HCD), a partnership between the foundation, the University of Delaware, and the state Division of Public Health, the Community Fellow will serve as a liaison between community organizations spearheading greening efforts and state, local, and federal government officials.

“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, CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “In partnership, this new initiative will support historically underserved communities, supporting their health and well-being.”

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According to a foundation release, there is clear evidence that “greening” U.S. cities with more and improved parks, trees, and community gardens can aid physical and mental health, increase local resilience to climate impacts like extreme heat, and reduce energy consumption. Health benefits come from improved air quality, more physical activity, reduced heat, the stress reduction effect of green spaces, and the opportunities green spaces create for social interaction.

Historic segregation, exclusion, and land dispossession systems have led to many communities living in nature-deprived areas. Consequently, these communities often do not benefit from nature’s benefits, like air and water purification, climate mitigation, or biodiversity, the release stated.

One example is the Route 9 corridor between New Castle and Wilmington. The residential and industrial area has been targeted for investments by the county and state in amenities such as a new library.

The Earth Fund’s Greening America’s Cities initiative starts with community projects in five cities: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Wilmington. It will extend through 2030 and expand to new communities, building on its earlier $300 million in funding to climate and environmental justice groups in the U.S. More information is available here.

Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos founded the $10 billion fund in 2020. Bezos’ adopted father is a graduate of Salesianium School, Wilmington, under a program for teenage Cuban refugees. Jeff Bezos’ parents, who inevsted in Amazon as a start up are also believed to be billionaries. Jeff’s parents’s made a $12 million gift to Salesianum.

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