USDA Invests $50 Million in Partnerships to Improve Equity in Conservation Programs, Address Climate Change

The Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust is an awardee of this grant.

Press Release from the USDA

ATLANTA, January 10, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $50 million in 118 partnerships to expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements, administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will fund two-year projects to expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are new to farming, low income, socially disadvantaged or military veterans. Projects will support USDA’s broader effort to address climate change and equitable access to programs.

“We are committed to equal opportunity for those we serve, and we are taking bold, historic action to advance equity and root out generations of systemic racism,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “These partnerships are another example of how we are helping ensure historically underserved producers can more fully access and participate in our programs and services. As we’ve said before: equity will be a vital part of our climate change work, as America’s farmers and rural communities are on the frontlines of climate change. Our work with producers and partners will invest in climate smart solutions that improve profitability and resilience, open new market opportunities, and build wealth that stays in rural communities.”

The program encourages new partnerships and the development of state and community conservation leadership for historically underserved producers, with projects focusing on one or more of the following key conservation priorities:

  • Improving soil health and water quality;
  • Providing habitat for at-risk wildlife;
  • Improving natural resources and productivity on agricultural lands; and/or
  • Building and strengthening local and regional food systems and markets.

Among the partnerships are the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (SEED).  The partnership with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, expands the Regional Agro Forestry Center (RAFC) to include climate smart agriculture, participation in conservation easements, heirs property consultations, forest management plans and certifications, and youth employment placement for Alabama, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Additionally, a Regional Community Forest Justice Initiative (RCFJI) will provide limited-resource forest landowners with conservation education, technical assistance and a climate smart vision for their land

The McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (SEED) will help historically underserved producers implement natural resources conservation and climate smart agricultural practices. They will work with producers to strengthen marketing skills, access new markets, and produce and sell cooperatively. Additionally, SEED will engage historically underserved youth in 24 climate-impacted and economically distressed counties in Georgia through outreach and education, providing access to NRCS technical assistance, certifications and youth internships.

View a full list of the partnerships

More Information

These partnerships are part of USDA’s broader efforts to address inequity in program delivery. Today, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) also announced its plans to invest $2 million in risk management education for historically underserved and small-scale producers. This doubles RMA’s successful $1 million investment in 2021. Also in 2021, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) invested $4.7 million to establish 56 partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.

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R.I. Foundation awards $660K to 11 minority-led nonprofits

Funds will focus on helping BIPOC-led organizations expand services to communities of color across Rhode Island

Rhode Island FoundationBy Chris Barnett | November 22, 2021
See Press Release

The Rhode Island Foundation today announced it has awarded $660,000 in grants to build the capacity of nonprofits led by people of color. Eleven organizations will receive $60,000 apiece over the course of the two-year program. Only nonprofits led by people identifying as Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous or multi-racial were eligible.

“Structural racism is a growth barrier to many organizations. Our grants give them the resources necessary to break the ‘starvation cycle’ that limits their ability to maintain or grow their programs.”

– Angie Ankoma, executive director of the Foundation’s Equity Leadership Initiative and a vice president at the Foundation

The nonprofits will co-create the learning curriculum, which will cover topics such as good governance, fundraising, communications planning and financial planning. In addition, consultants of color will provide workshops and technical assistance.

Movement Ground Farm of Tiverton is among the nonprofits receiving grants. The 10-acre farm gives people of color the opportunity to work the land in a communal effort to raise vegetables, fruit and meat birds for sale and their own consumption.

“In order to straddle giant leaps forward in organizational growth and expansion of critical farm infrastructure, we are looking inward to build the leadership capacity to carry out the work. We will use the grant to build sustainable, perennial, BIPOC-leadership in our farm organization by developing a cooperative model of leadership and commit to practices that invest equitably in the organization, the land, and its workers,” said Kohei Ishihara, executive director. “This grant is just what we needed – a flexible and unrestricted source of income to meet us in this dynamic moment of growth.”

The other recipients are A Leadership Journey in Providence, Mixed Magic Theatre and Cultural Events in Pawtucket, Movement Education Outdoors in Woonsocket, Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust in Cranston, Reentry Campus Program in Providence, Sankofa Community Connection in Newport, Sunrise Forever in Providence, Women’s Refugee Care in Providence, Mount Hope Community Center in Providence and Youth in Action in Providence.

The capacity-building program is just one facet of the Rhode Island Foundation’s broad, three-year, $8.5 million plan to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and access – with a first focus on racial equity – above and beyond its traditional yearly grant-making.

Recent work includes launching the Equity Leadership Initiative to develop a pipeline of leaders of color for positions of influence throughout Rhode Island and creating a grant program to help nonprofits create anti-racist organizational cultures.

“Eliminating disparities and inequities is among our core values, and is a major focus across all of our work in the community. We use a racial equity lens while making decisions about allocating resources to improve health, educational success and economic security among other critical issues,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $68 million and awarded a record $87 million in grants in 2020. Since its centennial five years ago, the Foundation has awarded more than $284 million in grants and has raised more than $328 million. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.