Bank of America, Bezos Earth Fund and NYS Invest $2 Million in Southwest Yonkers Climate Initiative


Mayor Mike Spano, City Council President Lakisha Collins-Bellamy, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Council Majority Leader Tasha Diaz, Groundwork Hudson Valley Executive Director Brigitte Griswold, MHACY President- CEO Wilson Kimball; Westhab Assistant Vice President Samantha Chiafalo; New York Bank of America President, Jeffrey Barker, with members of the GHV Green Team

The Bank of America Foundation, Bezos Earth Fund, and New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation all made a major commitment to alleviating climate risks in the Hudson Valley region by sponsoring a neighborhood-centered, solution-based climate resiliency initiative in the environmental justice community of Southwest Yonkers. This marks a historic series of public-private partnerships for Groundwork Hudson Valley.

Bank of America has a major presence in downtown Yonkers and has provided $500,000 over a two-year period to expand and galvanize the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership coordinated by the nonprofit Groundwork Hudson Valley. Through the Groundwork Climate Preparedness and Land Restoration program, made possible with funding from the Bezos Earth Fund, Groundwork Hudson Valley has been awarded $400,000 to utilize nature-based solutions and resilient landscaping to reduce exposure to extreme heat and flooding in The Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers (MHACY) properties across Yonkers. Joining the movement to tackle climate change at the community level is New York States’ Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), which awarded MHACY $900,000 to undertake an innovative green infrastructure plan to abate heat islands and flooding at MHACY properties.

The partnership empowers local people, businesses, and government to identify, understand, and mitigate the most serious climate risks, while being better prepared for extreme weather emergencies. It is also engaging local youth to nurture the climate resiliency leaders of the future. The influx of resources from Bank of America, Bezos Earth Fund, and EFC will enable the partnership to:

Significantly increase the number of local youth employed in green jobs that deploy nature-based solutions like planting and maintaining trees to reduce heat and flood risks;

Support the community-led climate resiliency task force for Southwest Yonkers to inform community-based interventions to mitigate priority heat islands and flood zones identified through a two-year data collection and mapping process;

Broadly expand climate education and literacy efforts to thousands of additional people in Southwest Yonkers through public outreach, education, and media;

Work across the city’s municipal housing system to improve the lives of thousands of vulnerable, low to moderate income residents through green infrastructure interventions at high-need housing sites, better prepare residents for extreme weather events, and train resident volunteers to safeguard ongoing climate resiliency improvements.

Brigitte Griswold, the Executive Director of Groundwork Hudson Valley, is thrilled to have Bank of America, the Bezos Earth Fund, and the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation provide the climate initiative a much-needed boost as risks related to climate change have become ever more apparent . “Having such a major private and public sector collaboration to support our community is a huge opportunity for everyone involved. The need is especially great in Southwest Yonkers, which is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts with its Hudson River waterfront, its history of redlining, and its low-lying urban landscape that intensifies the impact of heat waves, storms, and floods.”

Wilson Kimball, President and CEO of MHACY is very grateful to New York State, Bank of America and the Bezos Earth Fund for their vision and commitment to environmental justice. She expressed that, “it is leadership like theirs and at Groundwork Hudson Valley that will help our communities climate resiliency and ensure a more sustainable future.”

The Vice-President for Bank of America said that, “our institution and employees are very proud of this major investment in our local community to address one of the world’s most urgent environmental issues.” Adding, “The Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership is a truly impressive collaboration that puts the most vulnerable people and small businesses first in responding to the climate crisis. We are proud to be involved and this project will, without a doubt, provide a road map for other communities to follow to achieve a more equitable and sustainable future.”

New York Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​added, “I believe we must do everything we can to ensure that communities disproportionately affected by the climate crisis become more sustainable and resilient to climate change. Extreme weather events that have been referred to as “once in a lifetime” are now becoming more common. I am proud of the climate resilience work that Groundwork Hudson Valley is doing in Southwest Yonkers. That is why I was glad to help secure funding for the organization to support these critical investments. This community partnership will ensure our communities are better prepared for extreme weather emergencies.”

Other current supporters of the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership include NYC DEC, The Kresge Foundation, JPB Foundation, Swiss Re Foundation, The Baldwin Foundation, and Verizon. To learn more about the Climate Safe Neighborhood Partnership for Southwest Yonkers please contact Candida Rodriguez at candida@groundworkhv.org.

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