Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $1 million grant to the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) during their annual leadership conference in Atlanta, part of a national effort to plant and maintain trees in American cities. This grant, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, aims to enhance tree cover in disadvantaged communities. Vilsack envisions trees providing shade, reducing electric bills, and creating job opportunities nationwide. COGIC, one of 385 organizations selected for funding out of hundreds of applicants, sees this initiative as a chance to beautify low-income neighborhoods and inspire youth to pursue careers in agriculture. Vilsack highlights the potential for youth engagement through tree planting, possibly sparking interest in forestry or urban agriculture. The initiative aims to combat food deserts by planting fruit-bearing trees, offering communities access to fresh produce. This program, established under the Inflation Reduction Act to address climate change and promote clean energy, represents a collaborative effort between the government and religious organizations to foster environmental sustainability and community development.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a $1 million grant to leaders of the Church of God in Christ as part of a national program to plant and maintain trees in American cities.
Vilsack made the announcement on Tuesday (Jan. 23) at the predominantly Black Pentecostal denomination’s annual leadership conference in Atlanta.
Last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced $1 billion in grants to be distributed through its Urban and Community Forestry Program with a goal of supporting projects that provide tree cover in disadvantaged communities.
In a phone interview, Vilsack said he envisions trees providing shade and lowering electric bills in neighborhoods across the country, as well as wider benefits for those communities.
“It can create job opportunities and career path opportunities,” he said, “so structuring this program so that it’s empowering more tree planting and more workforce development gives us the opportunity to partner with the church.”
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Image credit: Photo by Gus Ruballo on Unsplash
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