Climate Preparedness and Land Restoration Initiative

The Groundwork Ohio River Valley team at work planting new trees.

The Climate Preparedness and Land Restoration initiative is a three-year effort to accelerate climate adaptation and land restoration projects across the Groundwork network. Through a competitive grant process, Groundwork Trusts are awarded funding to pursue innovative land restoration projects that will help alleviate the human impacts of the climate crisis through the creation of new green spaces, expansion of the urban tree canopy, and installation of green infrastructure. Made possible by support from the Bezos Earth Fund, we seek to implement projects that lead to tangible changes in the built environment. Project will all have a short-term impact on climate resilience, while laying the foundation for shifting how critical climate adaptation resources are allocated across cities.

“There is no panacea for addressing all environmental inequities. Combating climate change and building more resilient communities is going to require a multi-pronged strategy of complementary and coordinated 1% solutions, like⁠ expanding tree canopy, installing stormwater infrastructure⁠, removing pavement⁠, and creating green space. The projects included in this round of the Climate Preparedness grant provide an opportunity to see how collectively these infrastructure efforts can tip the scale towards equity.”

Cate Mingoya
National Director of Climate Resilience and Land Use

Meet The Awardees

  • Climate Justice In Action
Groundwork Bridgeport

Groundwork Bridgeport

To advance their efforts to restore access to the waterfront Sliver by the River – a former industrial site along the Pequonnock River estuary in Bridgeport – Groundwork Bridgeport will lead a community outreach and engagement campaign to collect feedback from residents about the site and ensure their priorities are at the heart of the plan to transform the 3-acre property. They will lead the way with the construction of a demonstration park along the waterfront, complete with green infrastructure designed to reduce the urban heat island effect, mitigate flooding, and improve biodiversity in the area.

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Groundwork Elizabeth

Groundwork Elizabeth

To address extreme heat and flooding in formerly redlined neighborhoods and brownfield areas, Groundwork Elizabeth will organize a team of partners and youth from the Mayor’s Youth Council program to survey and cultivate four micro forest sites. Using the Miyawaki method of restoring forests by densely planting native tree seeds on deforested, degraded soils, the microforests will improve soil permeability, mitigate flooding, improve air quality and reduce extreme heat.

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Groundwork Hudson Valley

Groundwork Hudson Valley

Groundwork Hudson Valley will lead efforts to retrofit ten subsidized housing developments in Yonkers with green infrastructure. They will be planting large canopy shade trees, improving and relocating public space amenities to address extreme heat, installing stormwater bioretention systems, and creating rain gardens. They will be collaborating with the Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers and Westhab, a local affordable housing nonprofit organization, as well as training Green Team youth to carry out this project.

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Groundwork Jacksonville

Groundwork Jacksonville

Due in part to a lack of tree canopy and stormwater infrastructure, North Riverside, a neighborhood consisting of the Mixon Town and Lackawanna communities in Jacksonville, FL, currently experiences frequent extreme heat and flash flooding events. In partnership with the North Riverside Community Development Corporation (NRCDC), the City of Jacksonville, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Jacksonville, and community residents, Groundwork Jacksonville will retrofit more than 23 owner-occupied homes with green infrastructure, including cool roofs, gutters and downspouts, rain barrels, and rain gardens, and will convert two vacant public lots into a park with both stormwater infrastructure and shade trees. You can learn more about the home resilience project here.

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Groundwork Lawrence

Groundwork Lawrence

The former mill town of Lawrence, MA, has just 25% tree canopy cover while almost half of the city is covered by impervious surfaces, exacerbating the urban heat island effect and flooding, and negatively impacting the air quality. This has an acute impact on the health of Lawrence residents. In the Lower Tower Hill neighborhood, asthma rates are in the 80-90th percentile. Through its participation in the Greening the Gateway Cities program and its robust Green Streets program, Groundwork Lawrence has planted over 4,000 trees since 2008 to mitigate heat and flooding, reduce energy costs, purify the air, and improve quality of life. Most of these free trees have been planted in North and South Lawrence, and due to the density of housing in the city, the majority have been planted in private yards rather than public land, increasing their longevity and climate resilience benefits. With support from the Climate Preparedness and Land Restoration grant, Groundwork Lawrence is expanding its urban forestry work, including tree stewardship, to the Lower Tower Hill neighborhood, an area of need identified by the Pa’Lante community initiative.

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Groundwork Milwaukee

Groundwork Milwaukee

In formerly red- and yellow-lined neighborhoods in Milwaukee, residents disproportionately face public health and socioeconomic challenges, making it more difficult for them to prepare for and respond to flooding and extreme heat. In 2021, the City of Milwaukee established the Healing Spaces Initiative to repurpose vacant lots into safe, relaxing areas that prioritize greenery, improve mental health, and build community in the Harambee neighborhood. Last year, the Groundwork Milwaukee Ground Corps green infrastructure workforce development program participants built five Healing Spaces sites across the neighborhood.

In Phase 2 of the Healing Spaces Initiative, Groundwork Milwaukee will leverage funding from the Climate Preparedness and Land Restoration grant to implement climate resilience and mitigation infrastructure, including bioswales, tree plantings, garden installations, solar-powered water pumping systems, and rainwater harvesting systems, to these same five sites. One of the Healing Spaces sites will also serve as a Garden Lab to experiment with techniques to improve gardening across the city.

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Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group

Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group

In Northeast Kansas City, Kansas (KCK), there is a lack of adequate infrastructure to help manage extreme heat and more frequent, intense flooding resulting from climate change. With each rain event, the lack of trees and high prevalence of impervious surfaces contribute to large amounts of runoff, causing the aging sewer system to overflow into the area’s creeks and streams, and subsequently the Missouri River.

With their Climate Preparedness and Land Restoration Grant, Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group will install green infrastructure to reduce flooding and the heat island effect in three key areas along Jersey Creek in close proximity to public transportation hubs and underused green spaces. Bioswales, rain gardens, street tree and native species planting, and curb cuts will increase permeability of the land, reduce flooding, and mitigate the heat island effect, while simultaneously improving access to usable outdoor recreation areas. This effort will complete Phase 1 of the KCK Heritage Trail, which connects the historic Kaw Point Park to the Quindaro Townsite, a site that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

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Groundwork New Orleans

Groundwork New Orleans

To create a new stormwater system to address flooding challenges along Touro Street, Groundwork New Orleans will plant 36 mature trees and install 36 bioswales to improve water management and reduce the heat island effect. They will also install the Solar Powered Eco Bench, which collects local weather conditions and uses pervious pavement and vegetation to capture 68,500 gallons of stormwater and filter out water contaminants.

Additionally, Groundwork New Orleans will complete phase two of their Claiborne Ave project. They will will focus on activating the space through the installation of additional stormwater features, public seating to create gathering spaces, and additional fencing and signage to increase the sense of place and safety.

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Groundwork Ohio River Valley

Groundwork Ohio River Valley

Groundwork Ohio River Valley will work with their Green Team youth and Green Workforce employees to establish Cincinnati’s first Ecodistrict in Lower Price Hill – a district designated for a concentration of both large-scale land revitalization and green infrastructure projects to address flooding, urban heat, and air pollution challenges. This initial docket of projects will include an 8,500 square foot green roof on a Cincinnati Public Schools facility and the extension of the Mill Creek Corridor, a mixed-use trail connecting Lower Price Hill to the local active transportation network. In collaboration with the Cincinnati City government, they will also plant street trees in areas identified as high-impact to double tree canopy coverage by 2024.

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Groundwork Rhode Island

Groundwork Rhode Island

Groundwork Rhode Island will leverage tree planting and composting efforts to mitigate the impacts of contaminated soil, extreme heat, and flooding in several former industrial cities across the state. They will create new jobs for residents through their GroundCorp landscape and Harvest Cycle compost teams and plant 2,400 trees, install 16 green stormwater infrastructure features, remove 30,000 square feet of pavement, and divert 750,000 pounds of food waste (a fivefold increase) to create 1,500 cubic yards of finished compost.

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Groundwork Richmond, Virginia

Groundwork Richmond, Virginia

Highland Grove in Richmond, VA, located in the formerly redlined neighborhood of Highland Park, is vulnerable to extreme heat and flooding due to high levels of impervious surfaces and lack of green spaces. The Better Housing Coalition (BHC), Richmond’s largest community development corporation, is repurposing a former public housing site – currently considered a brownfield – through the Highland Grove affordable housing project. Community outreach efforts during the planning stages determined that residents wished to see more green spaces, community gardens, and climate resilience practices in their community. In partnership with BHC, Groundwork Richmond, VA will use Climate Preparedness and Land Restoration grant funding to realize resident priorities by planting trees at street level and in green spaces, and installing green infrastructure, including rain barrels, rain gardens, and urban gardens, at the site. These additions will improve management of excess stormwater and increased tree canopy will serve to mitigate extreme heat. The project will also provide training and employment opportunities for members of Groundwork Richmond’s Green Workforce and Apprentices.

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Groundwork San Diego

Groundwork San Diego

Groundwork San Diego will transform a parking lot adjacent to the Chollas Creek into a public green space with bioswales and native landscaping in one of San Diego’s most park-poor neighborhoods. The park will provide a trailhead for a future trail that will connect the Eastern Area and City Heights neighborhoods with the San Diego Bay and include green infrastructure to mitigate the effects of urban heat and flooding in the area.

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Groundwork Southcoast

Groundwork Southcoast

Groundwork Southcoast will implement their green infrastructure plan for the Riverside Resilience Zone – an area that is disproportionately impacted by adverse climate and public health challenges. Through this program, they will train Green Team youth to carry out the public engagement strategy and complete infrastructure projects including tree planting, installing a stormwater garden with native vegetation, and rebuilding the riverbank to transform Riverside Park into a climate-resilient waterfront escape for community members.

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