Bezos Earth Fund Announces $5.5 Million for Urban Green Spaces in Underserved Wilmington Communities

Wilmington Projects Selected for New $400 Million Greening America’s Cities Initiative
Press Release

WILMINGTON, Del. — July 17, 2023: The Bezos Earth Fund announces today $5.5 million to fund Wilmington urban greening projects as part of its new Greening America’s Cities initiative, a $400 million commitment through 2030 to create more equitable access to urban green spaces with more parks, trees, and community gardens.

"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 Wilmington-based nonprofits selected by the Earth Fund include:

  • Claymont Coalition for Environmental Justice receives $1.5 million to carry out one of the top priorities of Delaware’s Justice40 Oversight Committee, a large-scale remediation and restoration of a portion of the brownfield that will be known as Riverfront Park. Partnering with the National Wildlife Federation, the Coalition will conduct ecological restoration of the area and implement recreational amenities designed by the Claymont community.

  • New Castle Prevention Coalition (NPC) receives $3 million to restore eight neighborhood-based parks spanning 300 acres in the Route 9 Community. With support from the National Wildlife Federation, they will begin to support the enhancement of community gardens, native plant gardens, tree canopy for reduced heat and pollution, recreational nature trails with safety lighting, and educational exhibits.

“The Urban Greening initiative will assist in our dream to create the unmet promise of the right to healthy, beloved communities for the people residing along the Route 9. In addition, it will allow us to address legacy economic disparities by providing us the opportunity to develop healthy pathways to workforce and entrepreneurial opportunities for our youth and families,” said Sandra Smithers, Executive Director of NCPC.

Additional organizations funded to work in Wilmington include the Delaware Community Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, PolicyLink, ReGenesis, and Urban Sustainability Directors Network.

Other inaugural Greening America’s Cities include Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and will expand to new U.S. cities. 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, local training, and long-term maintenance.

“Far too many neighborhoods in Wilmington, Claymont, and New Castle suffer as a result of poor air quality coming from our neighboring states and the lingering effects of industrial pollution,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a Wilmington resident. “Changing our communities for the better takes an all-hands-on-deck effort from the government, private, and non-profit sectors. I am thrilled that the Bezos Earth Fund is awarding Wilmington and its surrounding towns with funding to restore and improve our access to clean water, air, and land for generations to come.”

“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, executive vice president for strategic engagement at the Delaware Community Foundation. “We believe communities are strongest when all people have the opportunity to thrive.”

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.

“For decades, Delaware community leaders from Claymont to New Castle have fought tirelessly for cleaner air, cleaner water, and safe, accessible outdoor spaces,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Today these visions move one step closer to reality as essential projects to restore and reclaim degraded lands—envisioned by incredible local leaders like Delaware Representative Larry Lambert, Dora Williams, Sandra Smithers, Michele Roberts, and so many others, generously funded by the Bezos Earth Fund, and supported by the National Wildlife Federation and the ReGenesis Institute—are poised to transform historically under-resourced communities. We could not be prouder to partner with leaders in Claymont and the Route 9 corridor to advance these remarkable community greening projects that will make a transformative difference in Delaware and serve as a model for the country for how to authentically advance environmental justice.”

The Greening America’s Cities initiative, continuing through 2030, 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.

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