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USDA awards $1 million for urban tree planting to church of God In Christ


A significant step towards enhancing urban green spaces and community development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a $1 million award to the Church Of God In Christ (COGIC) through its Urban and Community Forestry program.  

This grant will empower church leaders to lead tree planting initiatives, expand access to green areas, and foster workforce growth within the communities they serve. 

Tom Vilsack unveiled this initiative at the church's annual leadership conference, where he expressed gratitude for COGIC's partnership. The Church Of God In Christ is one of the many organizations collaborating with the USDA Forest Service to connect communities with the resources offered by the Urban and Community Forestry program. 

Vilsack emphasized the urgency of addressing extreme heat challenges, particularly in communities of color and low-income areas where tree cover is often lacking. The initiative seeks to combat heatwaves and their disproportionate impact through the expansion of urban forests. 

Presiding Bishop J. Drew Sheard of COGIC expressed enthusiasm for the partnership, stating that this award will enable numerous churches within the denomination to engage in tree planting initiatives, improve green spaces, and contribute to local workforce development. 

The Urban and Community Forestry Program is a unique federal initiative dedicated to enhancing and expanding urban forests across the nation. In 2023, the USDA Forest Service allocated $1 billion in funding to this program as part of President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. The program supports equitable access to trees and their numerous benefits. 

Studies have shown that trees contribute to improved health, reduced crime rates, lower temperatures during extreme heatwaves, and economic opportunities for communities. The funding from this program will directly support access to these benefits and deliver ecological and economic advantages to urban and Tribal communities throughout the country. 

This initiative aligns with President Investing in America agenda, aiming to advance environmental justice, create economic opportunities, and build a clean energy economy. It signifies a substantial step towards greener, more sustainable urban communities. 

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