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Chesapeake Bay Trust Reaches $40 Million In Awards

| July 05, 2011, 02:12 PM | 0 Comments

The Chesapeake Bay Trust announced that it has reached an historic milestone: a total of $40 million in grants have been awarded to local schools, nonprofit groups and community-based organizations to fund restoration and education programs that raise awareness and restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.  Since its inception in 1985, the Trust has awarded almost 8,900 grants in every county and Baltimore City that have engaged hundreds of thousands of Marylanders in programs that advance neighborhood greening efforts, restore local watersheds, and educate schoolchildren through environmental programs.

“In our first year, the Trust awarded just nine small grants to local schools and organizations,” said Tara Potter, Chair of the Trust’s Board of Trustees.  “Since that time, the Trust has evolved into an innovative and high-impact grant maker, last year awarding more than $5 million to fund programs and projects that educate Maryland’s youth, restore shorelines and wetlands, clean up local rivers and streams, green our neighborhoods and communities and create Maryland jobs.”

From its humble origins supporting field trips and small restoration projects, the Trust’s grant portfolio has evolved into a sophisticated suite of nine programs: Mini Grants, Outreach and Community Engagement, Environmental Education, Capacity Building, Pioneer, Restoration, Living Shorelines, Urban Greening and Watershed Assistance.  A team of highly skilled grant managers reviews hundreds of grant requests annually to determine which projects and programs have the best potential to contribute to Chesapeake Bay restoration and protection, while also involving the public as fully as possible in education and community engagement activities. In addition to its grant programs, the Trust also manages the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, a leadership and training program for young adults pursuing environmental and conservation careers.

“At the Trust, we work to bridge the ‘Chesapeake Bay stewardship gap’ by inspiring more people to move from caring about the Bay to caring for it through community-based projects involving students, homeowners, local governments officials and other stakeholders,” said Allen Hance, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “In our first few years, only a handful of Marylanders knew about us and the work that we do.  Now, through the grants that we fund, more than 150,000 Maryland teachers, students and volunteers from every county in the state and Baltimore City are actively contributing to the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort each year.”

During the past 26 years, the Trust has funded grants as small as $20 for school field trips and education projects to grants as large as $200,000 to fund best management practices for agriculture and living shoreline development.  Recipients have ranged from small individual schools to large county school systems, from local watershed organizations to city governments, from higher educational facilities to faith-based organizations.  In general, any nonprofit organization, school, community association or governmental agency that proposes Bay restoration work that actively engages the public can apply for a grant.

To fund these requests, the Trust relies on proceeds from sales of Maryland’s Treasure the Chesapeake license plate, contributions to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form, donations from individuals and corporations, and partnerships with private foundations and federal and state agencies.  Each year, more than 60,000 Marylanders purchase a Treasure the Chesapeake license plate and almost 50,000 contribute to the Bay Fund.  Hundreds more throughout the Chesapeake Bay region support the Trust and its grantmaking work through private and corporate donations.  These contributions are managed carefully with 90 percent of the Trust’s expenditures directed to its Bay restoration and education programs.  In 2010, for the eighth consecutive year, the Trust received a “Four-Star Rating” from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading independent evaluator of non-profits organizations.

Last year the Trust set an ambitious objective of doubling its grant making to $10 million annually by 2015.  The hope is that achieving this goal will enable the Trust and its grantees to play an even larger and more effective role in advancing the Chesapeake Bay restoration and protection efforts.  For more information on the Trust’s grant programs and other initiatives, as well as how you can donate, visit www.cbtrust.org.

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