Bezos Earth Fund Announces $12 Million for Urban Green Spaces in Underserved Los Angeles Communities
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — July 17, 2023: The Bezos Earth Fund announces today $12 million to fund urban Los Angeles area greening projects as part of its new Greening America’s Cities initiative, a $400 commitment through 2030 to create more equitable access to urban green spaces with more parks, trees, and community gardens.
Bezos Earth Fund Vice Chair Lauren Sánchez made the announcement with White House Senior Advisor John Podesta, Senator Alex Padilla, Congressman Tony Cárdenas, Bezos Earth Fund President and CEO Andrew Steer, Pacoima Beautiful Executive Director Veronica Padilla, City of Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley, community leaders and grantee partners at the Pacoima Wash in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles.
"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 & CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. "In partnership, this new initiative will support historically underserved communities, supporting their health and well-being."
The L.A.-based nonprofits receiving funding include:
Pacoima Beautiful receives $3.5 million to support the first phase to reshape four miles of the Pacoima Wash into a valuable community resource. Funding will go toward construction costs, community organization and outreach, professional development to secure additional funding, the hiring of additional staff, and volunteer training.
TreePeople receives $1.9 million to plant and maintain at least 4,250 trees in underserved communities in LA, launch multilingual community organizing efforts to expand urban greening efforts, work to shape policy and green infrastructure support at the state and local level, and lead initiatives to inform underserved youth about career opportunities in the environmental sector.
SE Asian Community Alliance receives $500,000 and will partner with the Los Angeles Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing (LA ROSAH) Collaborative to launch preemptive community-driven planning to prevent the displacement of long-term residents of the communities adjacent to Taylor Yard, a formerly contaminated rail maintenance yard which is being remediated and transformed into a 100-acre park.
East LA Community Corporation receives $300,000 to partner with community farming organization Campos de Cultivo to complete the Lorena Terrace Community Garden and two additional green spaces. Through the project, Boyle Heights will gain access to nutritious, fresh food, as well as a venue for physical activity and meaningful, intergenerational social interaction.
“My community has long been on the front line of the climate crisis,” said Congressman Tony Cárdenas. “Growing up in Pacoima, the air quality was so bad that we were prevented from playing outside. 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. I commend the Bezos Earth Fund for investing in our community and communities like Pacoima across the country. Pacoima Beautiful has a track record of supporting our residents, cleaning up our neighborhoods, and helping them adapt to a changing climate. This $3.5 million investment in the Pacoima Wash will allow them to do so much more to better the lives of Valley families.”
Additional organizations funded to work in LA include 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.
“Bezos Earth Fund’s support will be transformational in helping provide crucial shade to a city and globe currently experiencing record heat and extreme climate events,” said Cindy Montañez, CEO of TreePeople. “This is a critical step toward transformative change, holistically advancing both the greening of urban neighborhoods and the lives of those who live there, through increased urban tree canopy, community organizing, workforce development, and actionable policy to combat the climate crisis.”
Other inaugural Greening America’s Cities include projects in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, and Wilmington, Delaware. The grantees are integral in leading these groundbreaking projects to advance nature in their communities. Their work includes community engagement, land acquisition, project design and construction, food cultivation and distribution, training, and long-term maintenance.
There is clear evidence that "greening" U.S. cities with more—and better—parks, trees, and community gardens can improve 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 systems of segregation, exclusion, and land dispossession 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.
"Deep community engagement is the key to successful, sustainable urban greening," said Jon Christensen, a founder of the UCLA Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies. "Ethnic media in diverse languages reach deep into their communities as trusted sources for information, education, and opportunities for greening their neighborhoods. We're excited about this opportunity to work with the ethnic media to deepen the engagement of L.A.'s immigrant communities in urban greening with the support of the Bezos Earth Fund.”
"Thanks to the Bezos Earth Fund, we're planting the seeds of equity and resilience. Our work, a fusion of strategic tree-planting, advanced geospatial methods, and social justice, isn't just shaping urban landscapes—it's enhancing community wellbeing. By turning data into action, we're helping to ensure that every neighborhood shares in the vital benefits of urban greening,” added Manuel Pastor, director of the USC Equity Research Institute, and John P. Wilson, director of the USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute.
“We are honored to be a Bezos Earth Fund grant recipient. This grant will help Hip Hop Caucus bring attention to the climate and environmental challenges South Los Angeles communities face, amplify the community-based solutions they are advancing, and drive education around opportunities to maximize grassroots efforts,” said Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.
The Greening America’s Cities initiative builds on the Earth Fund’s earlier $300 million in funding to climate and environmental justice groups in the U.S. Find more information on each city’s projects and a complete list of the grantees here.
About the Bezos Earth Fund
The Bezos Earth Fund is transforming the fight against climate change with the largest ever philanthropic commitment to climate and nature protection. We’re investing $10 billion in this decisive decade to protect nature and drive systems-level change, creating a just transition to a low-carbon economy. By providing funding and expertise, we partner with organizations to accelerate innovation, break down barriers to success and create a more equitable and sustainable world. Join us in our mission to create a world where people prosper in harmony with nature.