ARLINGTON, Va. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Forest Service has unveiled a groundbreaking investment of $1 billion, spanning nearly 400 projects across all 50 states, including multiple U.S. territories and Tribal Nations to increase equitable access to trees and green spaces in disadvantaged communities. This momentous funding initiative, made possible through the Inflation Reduction Act, aims to directly tackle the most urgent challenges facing urban forests and the people who depend on them. 

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is proud to announce that the organization is designated as a national partner for this transformative endeavor. We are enthusiastic about our role in channeling these resources directly to Justice40 communities through strategic investments, tree planting, critical maintenance projects and workforce development opportunities throughout the country. Further details on specific opportunities will be shared as we receive more comprehensive guidance.  

“This funding will allow us to continue our proud and long history of preserving and protecting our most precious natural resources and the communities we serve, particularly neighborhoods hit the hardest by climate change impacts and pollution,” said SCA President and CEO Lidia Soto-Harmon. “We are committed to building the next generation of conservation leaders and equitable access to the outdoors for all. We are excited to get to work!”

The grant funding was open to community-based organizations, Tribes, municipal and state governments, non-profit partners, universities and other eligible entities. The Justice40 Initiative is the national commitment to environmental justice and is designed so that 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

Studies show that trees in communities are associated with improved physical and mental health, lower average temperatures during extreme heat, increased food security and new economic opportunities.

To help combat these issues, the SCA developed its Urban Green Program to advance innovative climate solutions, prioritize environmental justice and youth development, and leverage the strength of public-private partnerships.

As America’s largest youth conservation service organization, the SCA is developing the next generation of conservation leaders by building equitable access to nature, providing green job opportunities for young people and teaching our program participants how to become environmental stewards. The funding will help the Forest Service support projects like ours that increase tree cover in disadvantaged communities, provide equitable access to the benefits of nature, and deliver tangible economic and ecological benefits to urban and Tribal communities across the country.

SCA Urban Green programs are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Newark, New York City, Oakland/Bay Area, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington, D.C.