Environmental Health Coalition, SD Foundation awarded grants for climate projects in Barrios

By SDCN Editor

San Diego, CA–San Diego Foundation and Environmental Health Coalition have been awarded $22 million by the California Strategic Growth Council for their Transformative Climate Communities application to help fund climate-resilient projects that will preserve, protect, and strengthen San Diego’s central historic barrios.

In total, both organizations hope to leverage the grant award, plus $26 million in matching funds and other funding, to invest a total of $48 million in the barrios. Through the grant, the neighborhoods will experience unprecedented investment in green spaces, housing and transportation, community-led food production and distribution, and community centers, among other climate-resilient and community benefit projects. San Diego’s central historic barrios include the seven neighborhoods of Logan, Stockton, Grant Hill, Mt. Hope, Sherman, Southcrest, and Shelltown.

“Along with our partners, we produced a unique application with a community-informed process led by a collective of regional nonprofits that included participation and feedback from 400-plus community members,” said Mark Stuart, President and CEO of San Diego Foundation, who served as lead applicant on the grant application. “We are confident that through this grant, San Diego will become a much more just, equitable, and resilient community.”

In 2022, the Environmental Health Coalition and San Diego Foundation, along with 10 partners, worked to ensure their Transformative Climate Communities application, dubbed “Rooted in Comunidad, Cultivating Equity,” was grounded in the community and led by the community. During the application-building period, the Environmental Health Coalition hosted a survey and two community workshops to get direct resident feedback. 

“Our communities have not gotten the investment and attention we need and deserve, resulting in these majority-minority neighborhoods being some of the San Diego communities that are most vulnerable to climate impacts such as extreme heat and poor air quality,” said José Franco García, Executive Director of Environmental Health Coalition. “This grant is a critical step in empowering San Diego’s most impacted communities to determine how to strengthen their neighborhoods against the threat of climate change and pollution to breathe clean air, live healthy lives, and thrive.”

The list of proposed projects includes:

Tierras Indigenas Community Land Trust, a nonprofit working to purchase land in the Historic Barrios to ensure the housing and buildings built will remain affordable and community-owned for future generations.

Holistic Healthy Homes Program, through a coalition of six community-based organizations, will improve indoor air quality in 25 homes through a “healthy homes make-over” that will include indoor electric and air quality upgrades, water-tolerant xeriscaping, and other home repairs.  

Trolley and Bus Stop Improvements through the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will upgrade key transit centers and bus stops to make public transit in the area easier, safer, and more convenient.

Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center solar panel installation to reduce harmful carbon emissions while providing clean, renewable energy for the center that provides families a space to gather, study, and celebrate Chicano culture, and find respite from hot temperatures, air toxicity, rolling blackouts and power outages.  

Via Verde Free Electric Shuttle to provide free, bilingual, on-demand electric vehicle shuttle service that will safely and efficiently provide door-to-destination transportation in Barrio/Logan Heights.

Project New Village Community Gardens and Resource Center will include a 12,000-square-foot food center to support community-led food production, aggregation, and distribution.

Boston Avenue Park will be located along Boston Avenue and serve as a buffer between the I-5 freeway and the residential neighborhood, with 8-foot-high, vine-covered walls; two playgrounds; an off-leash dog park; pedestrian walkways; community art spaces and a bike path that will connect to the Chollas Creek bikeway.

Plant more than 700 trees throughout the city of San Diego in empty right-of-way locations in the project area to improve air quality, increase shade, decrease temperature, and beautify public spaces.

Transformative Climate Communities is an initiative by the Strategic Growth Council, with the California Department of Conservation. The program funds community-led development and infrastructure projects that achieve major environmental, health, and economic benefits in California’s most disadvantaged communities. Transformative Climate Communities empowers the communities most impacted by pollution to choose their own goals, strategies, and projects to enact transformational change. 

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