By Juliana Gonzalez, Community Stewardship Grants Manager
Have you participated in any creek restoration projects, a shoreline cleanup or naturalist walk in the last year? If you have not, you are missing out.
There are many community based organizations helping green the San Francisco Bay watersheds in almost every corner of the Bay. Many of them organize neighborhood cleanups, creek restoration and demonstration projects, habitat restoration projects and environmental and stewardship activities right in your local creek and park.
During the last 7 years, the Contra Costa Community Watershed Stewardship Grants have funded the work of local organizations such as the friends of creek groups, watershed stewards, citizens monitoring groups, Parent-Teacher Associations, Boy and Girl Scout troops, green teams, environmental education citizen run projects everyday around Contra Costa County. Through these grants, everyday people have the resources to self organize and act to protect their beloved San Francisco Bay though neighborhood projects that provide regular opportunities for engaging the community.
The actions fostered by these groups amount to a BIG DEAL. During Contra Costa Coastal Cleanup Day alone, multiple volunteer groups engaged over 3,000 people and removed over 13 tons of trash from local creeks around the county. Last May, the Bringing Back the Native Garden Tour educated over 12,000 people about the benefits of landscaping with native plants for habitat protection and pollution prevention. Watershed coordinators and green teams have engaged over 4,000 students and youth groups in stewardship activities in meaningful, nature based exploration and stewardship activities. Over 5,000 native plants have been planted, and volunteers have turn out consistently to care for the land in their community back yard.
The Watershed Project is proud to be partnering with such an inspiring group of individuals. In the words of Margaret Mead: “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.
These groups of individuals meet around kitchen tables and in coffee shops and partner with small NGO’s to accomplish their ambitious dreams. They are the ground force that can mobilize the neighborhood around a common objective of a cleaner and healthier San Francisco Bay.
That is why we are proud to announce another year of funding for the Community Stewardship Grants. We have 100,000 dollars for the fund this year and will assemble a professional panel to select 10 to 15 projects for funding. Funds for these grants come from storm water utility assessment fees in Unincorporated Contra Costa and from the Contra Costa Clean Water Program. Since the beginning of the grant program, 32 groups have benefited from the funds, and Contra Costa County is a better place to live thanks to the great effort of these grassroots organizations.
We invite you to join the partnership and submit a proposal. Applications are due January 8th, 2013. To download the application visit our events page. For further information contact Juliana Gonzalez, Community Stewardship Grants Manager.
We look forward to partnering again with many of the grassroots groups to protect and enhance our local creeks and watersheds. And we encourage all of you to find your local group and participate in this great movement. It will feel good to “be the change you want to see in the world”.