Photo: Betsy Darlington

Land Trust Grant Program Benefits Rochester Youth

The Finger Lakes Land Trust awarded a total of $58,584 in grant funds to six organizations serving inner-city Rochester youth. The Land Trust chose the grantees based on their ability to make a significant impact on their communities.

In 2015, an anonymous donor gave the Land Trust 200 acres in northern Steuben County with the understanding that the property would be sold subject to a conservation easement – a legal agreement that permanently limits future land use in order to protect the property’s conservation values. The donor requested that some of the proceeds generated from the sale of the property benefit inner-city Rochester youth by fostering their connection with nature.

Land Trust staff reached out to Rochester-area non-profits and key stakeholders over the course of several years before implementing a grant program. Towards the end of 2019, a request for proposals was issued and eleven worthy applications were received. After careful deliberation, grants were awarded to the following six organizations:

Girl Scouts of Western New York (awarded $15,000): The mission of GSWNY is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. This grant will be used to support Creating Women Leaders of Tomorrow: A Program of Girl Scouts Camp Piperwood. Specifically, these funds will help GSWNY replenish their inventory of necessary outdoor equipment, removing a significant barrier that often impacts low-income youth from accessing and enjoying the outdoors;

Seneca Park Zoo Society (awarded $14,984): The Seneca Park Zoo is a 20-acre zoo located in Rochester. This grant will support the SPZS’s Urban Ecologist Workforce Development Program, which aims to foster an environment in which youth can learn how to be advocates for the environment while exploring conservation-related career options.

Montezuma Audubon Center (awarded $13,600): The Montezuma Audubon Center protects birds and habitat using science, advocacy, education, and conservation. This grant will help the Montezuma Audubon Center expand its well-established conservation program, For the Birds!, to serve Rochester City School District students. For the Birds! is a place-based environmental education program that promotes awareness and appreciation of nature through the study of birds.

Center for Youth (awarded $7,500): The Center for Youth works with children to create a more equitable community by creating opportunities, removing barriers, and promoting social justice. These funds will support their EarthWorks program, which utilizes neighborhood parks, school gardens, and local greenspaces for the academic, social, and emotional growth of urban youth.

Genesee Land Trust (awarded $5,000): The Genesee Land Trust has protected over 6,000 acres in the greater Rochester area. These funds will support their Environmental Ambassadors program, which offers urban youth paid employment while gaining a deeper connection with nature. More specifically, this grant will help expand this program to include Leaders-in-Training, which are youth who already have Environmental Ambassadors experience but are looking for more responsibility, leadership training, and community building.

Inclusive Woods & Us (awarded $2,500): Inclusive Woods & Us aims to increase equitable access to the outdoors for children, families, and communities of color from lower socioeconomic areas of Rochester as a way to improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health and academic performance of vulnerable populations. This grant will be used to expand the capacity of their day hike program, which serves inner city Rochester youth and their families.

“We are delighted we were able to support these efforts,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “We are also particularly grateful to the donor who conserved a beautiful tract of land while providing these much-needed resources.”