Last week, the Chesapeake Bay Trust announced a milestone: that a total of $50 million in grants has been awarded since its inception to improve local communities, local rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Since 1985, the Trust has worked with hundreds of nonprofit groups, watershed organizations, schools, civic organizations, and city and county governments throughout the region awarding close to 10,000 grants to advance environmental education, community outreach and local watershed restoration. Each year the Trust engages more than 100,000 individuals through its grant programs and special initiatives and estimates to have reached more than one million area residents who are restoring shorelines, educating students about the environment, greening local neighborhoods, and cleaning up rivers and streams.
“When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was first founded, we awarded only a handful of grants to a few schools and organizations around the state. Now, we are awarding more than $5 million a year to fund some exceptional restoration projects and outreach initiatives, using the best social and natural science and techniques, designed to improve our communities and our waterways,” said Dr. Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “And our grantees are having an incredible impact: in 2012 alone, they restored 44 acres of stream buffers, oyster reefs, and wetlands; planted 180,000 native trees and plants; restored 6,320 feet of living shoreline; removed 70 tons of trash; and changed the behavior of thousands of residents to improve their relationship with the natural environment, among many other accomplishments.”
Through programs such as the Treasure the Chesapeake license plate and the Chesapeake Bay tax check off on the Maryland state income tax form, the Trust is able to support hundreds of on-the ground restoration and engagement projects each year that are bettering Maryland communities local waterways. Despite the organization’s name, work is done in all three of Maryland’s major watersheds: the Chesapeake, the Coastal Bays, and the Youghiogheny. Additionally, the Trust partners with federal and state agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment, as well as receiving funding from individuals, corporations and nonprofit partners interested in advancing Bay restoration.
“The Motor Vehicle Administration has been a proud partner of the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Chesapeake Bay license plate program for more than 20 years,” said MVA Administrator John Kuo. “Through this established and successful initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, in partnership with the MVA, has been able to create and sustain an organization that is using voluntary contributions to improve the rivers, streams, and bays of our state.”
During the past 27 years, the Trust has funded grants as small as $25 for school field trips to projects as large as $200,000 to fund best management practices for agriculture and living shoreline development. The Trust provides funding through 12 competitive grant programs that support restoration, community outreach, and education, and each grant application is rigorously reviewed by a panel of external technical experts. In general, any nonprofit organization, school, community association or governmental agency that seeks to engage and educate the public through watershed restoration or outreach work can apply for a grant.
“Through the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland state income tax form, Marylanders have a unique opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation to help advance Bay restoration goals,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot. “Created in 1990, the Bay Fund tax check-off has funded thousands of restoration and education projects that are making a difference for the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s wildlife and our office is a proud partner of this work that is making Maryland better.”
The Chesapeake Bay Trust seeks to manage its dollars as effectively as possible with almost 90 cents of each dollar received going toward education, outreach and Bay restoration projects. For 10 consecutive years, the Trust has received a “Four Star Rating” from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading independent evaluator of non-profit organizations, placing the organization in the top 1% of charities nationwide. Each year the Chesapeake Bay Trust receives more than double the amount of grant requests than it can fund, indicating that interest and support for its grant programs and Bay restoration work continues to expand.
“I think that when the Trust was founded, no one could have foreseen that we would reach a goal of $50 million in grant giving so quickly,” continued Davis. “However demand only continues to grow, and while great strides are being made, we know that we have a lot of work to do to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and our state’s other waterways. We hope that the Chesapeake Bay Trust can continue to serve as a much-need resource for the community to fund outreach and restoration projects that are making a difference for the Bay.”
For more information on the Trust’s grant programs and other initiatives, as well as how to get involved, visit www.cbtrust.org.