Funds made possible by $1 billion investment in Urban and Community Forestry from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda
ATLANTA, Jan. 23, 2024 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program will go to the Church Of God In Christ (COGIC), to help church leaders plant trees, expand access to green spaces and develop the local workforce in the communities they serve.
Secretary Vilsack made the announcement at the church’s annual leadership conference where he thanked church leaders for their partnership as one of many organizations that will work with the USDA Forest Service in helping connect their communities with the historic resources made available by the Urban and Community Forestry program.
“As we saw just this summer, as temperatures continue to rise, communities are being hit by harmful and often deadly heat waves – we also know that extreme heat disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities where there is less likely to be tree cover,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Faith-based and community organizations are often critical to helping USDA programs reach the communities who need them most, and I am grateful to the Church Of God In Christ’s leadership for their partnership in USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. This award will build on similar efforts underway across the country.”
“The Church Of God In Christ is pleased and privileged to have been selected as a beneficiary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program,” Presiding Bishop J. Drew Sheard said. “This award will enable numerous churches within our denomination of over 13,000 to engage in tree planting initiatives, enhance the availability of green areas, and foster the growth of the local labor force.”
The Urban and Community Forestry Program is the only program in the federal government dedicated to enhancing and expanding the nation’s urban forest resources. In 2023, the USDA Forest Service announced $1 billion in funding for this program, made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, and selected 385 grant proposals from entities working to increase equitable access to trees and the benefits they provide. The funding was granted to entities in all 50 states, two U.S. territories, three U.S. affiliated Pacific islands, and several Tribes. More information can be found on the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program website.
The announcement is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to advance environmental justice, generate economic opportunity, and build a clean energy economy nationwide. Studies show that trees are associated with improved health, reduced crime, lower average temperatures in extreme heat, and create new economic opportunities and investments in communities. Funding will directly support equitable access to the benefits trees provide and deliver real economic and ecological benefits to urban and Tribal communities across the country.
More information about the funded proposals, as well as announcements about the grant program, is available on the Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage.
More information on the historic Inflation Reduction Act is available on the White House Fact Sheet: One Year In, President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is Driving Historic Climate Action and Investing in America to Create Good Paying Jobs and Reduce Costs
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. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
The Church Of God In Christ, Inc. is one of the world’s oldest Pentecostal faiths and the fourth largest Protestant group in the United States, with 13,000+ churches in 105 countries and millions of adherents.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.