El Sheikh, Egypt – Today, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), American Forests announced a $10 million Tree Equity Catalyst Fund to help make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, in line with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal 11. The Fund will complement the Inflation Reduction Act’s $1.5 billion investment in urban and community forestry—the largest such investment in history—by enhancing the capacity of cities and frontline organizations to advance Tree Equity in urban communities across the United States.  

The Tree Equity Catalyst Fund pools support from corporations, foundations and leading philanthropists to address a dangerous reality: a map of tree cover in cities across the U.S. is almost always a map of income and race. American Forests’ Tree Equity Score tool shows that, on average, lower-income neighborhoods across America have 41% less tree cover, and neighborhoods with a majority residents of color have 33% less canopy cover. This systemic inequity has life-threatening implications in the face of extreme heat, rising air pollution, flooding and other threats fueled by climate change that can otherwise be mitigated by a healthy, resilient tree canopy.

“Fueled by the largest-ever federal investment in urban forestry solutions, the U.S. has made an unprecedented commitment to ensure there are trees in every part of every city, serving those who need them most,” said Jad Daley, American Forests president and chief executive officer. “With extreme heat and flooding gripping our cities, we have no time to waste. American Forests is committed to ensuring those most impacted by the climate crisis have the resources they need to plant and maintain trees, cool urban heat islands, and save lives.” 

The Tree Equity Catalyst Fund will prioritize cities and frontline organizations that are dedicated to Tree Equity but have historically lacked the resources or experience to access large scale public funding. Grants from the Fund will provide the capacity support needed to successfully apply for and utilize the Inflation Reduction Act’s landmark federal funding. The coaching, cutting-edge technical assistance and financial resources provided by the Fund will help expand equitable access to this once-in-a-generation federal investment in urban forestry and strengthen its on-the-ground impact in communities.

Early investments in Tree Equity at American Forests have come from major corporations and organizations like American Express, Bank of America, Deloitte, Salesforce and others. Their support has helped cities ranging from Phoenix to Detroit to Boston overcome systemic barriers to achieving Tree Equity, such as the urban forestry workforce crisis. The Tree Equity Catalyst Fund builds on this forward momentum by deepening investment in the leadership of communities grappling with both social inequity and the climate crisis.

“To meet the moment, we need all hands on deck, and the private sector plays an essential role in accelerating a deeply inclusive Tree Equity movement,” added Daley. “Together, we can create new family-sustaining jobs in urban forestry, increase life-saving tree canopy where it’s needed most, and see more vibrant and equitable cities.”

To learn more about American Forests’ Tree Equity work, click here.  

Contact:  

Offsite: KP Parrish, kparrish@americanforests.org, (202) 301-3894 

Offsite: Rekha Patricio, rpatricio@americanforests.org, (703) 650-8958