The Arbor Day Foundation today announced a $50,000 grant from Bank of America that will provide funding to a local non-profit, Sonora Environmental Research Institute, Inc. (SERI). The funds will be used by SERI in partnership with Tucson Water and Tucson Clean & Beautiful/Trees for Tucson to bolster its local efforts to increase tree canopy in low-income neighborhoods in the community as a means of mitigating urban heat island impacts resulting from climate change. SERI is one of four national recipients awarded funding from the overall $250,000 Community Resiliency Grant Program established by Bank of America.
“Urban tree canopies bring tremendous cost savings and environmental benefits to communities, especially for low- and moderate-income households,” said Adriana Kong Romero, Tucson market president, Bank of America. “As climate change gets more extreme, urban trees can help alleviate such things as heat waves and poor air quality, and has been linked to cooler temperatures, more effective storm water control, lower energy costs and increased property value. As a company, we’re committed to helping cities build resilience to current climate challenges and plant the seeds for future growth and prosperity.”
According to Ann Marie Wolf, President of SERI, increasing the number of trees to provide shade will improve neighborhood and community resilience to climate change and increased temperatures in urban areas. “Much of our work in Tucson is focused on increasing the use of rainwater harvesting practices in low-income neighborhoods, which tend to be affected more severely by urban heat island impacts” said Wolf.
SERI works in collaboration with Tucson Water to implement the Low-Income Rainwater Harvesting Grant and Loan program. SERI has been successful in offering workshops and additional support to qualifying residents on how to design, install, and maintain rainwater harvesting systems. However, the funds provided by this grant will allow SERI to provide an additional incentive to install passive water harvesting systems by providing desert adapted trees and shrubs. The rainwater harvesting rebate and grant/loan program funded by Tucson Water does not include costs for native trees or shrubs.