In December 2021, conservation organization Open Space Institute (OSI) and Land Trust Alliance announced nearly $400,000 in grants toward helping communities protect themselves from the impacts of climate change.
More than $300,000 went to nonprofits and conservancies actively working to capture and store carbon with land protection and stewardship efforts. “These grants will directly address the impacts of climate change. We thank the Land Trust Alliance for their partnership in advancing a proactive response to climate on the ground,” said OSI President and CEO Kim Elliman in the announcement.
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change and often have the fewest resources to protect themselves. According to the American Public Health Association, people of color are more likely to experience pre-existing health conditions and poor living conditions than their white counterparts. As weather conditions become more volatile, these groups are less likely to have readily-available tools to overcome events such as extreme heat, air pollution and flooding.
In addition to worsening weather conditions, loneliness is now a major public health concern, raising a person’s risk of death by 45%. Environmental factors play a role in combating loneliness—when people are able to see trees or the sky, feelings of loneliness decrease by 28%. Unsurprisingly, many communities of color still lack access to high-quality outdoor spaces.
Robert F. Smith’s Work with Open Space Institute
Robert F. Smith is a supporter of Open Space Institute, especially around the organization’s efforts to protect diverse spaces.
“Music and artistic expression have a unique power to unite families and communities. Few places embody that more than Harlem. I’m humbled by the opportunity to contribute to a center where people of all ages can come together in appreciation of the arts. By bringing together leaders in the public and private sectors for this effort, we are ensuring West Harlem’s rich culture and heritage can take center stage.” said Smith in 2018 when asked about his gift toward upgrading and revitalizing the Cultural Performance Center in Harlem, New York.
Thanks to donations from Smith and others, the center was able to undergo a full transformation, replacing outdated lighting, sound equipment, bleacher seating and flooring.
Learn more about the Open Space Institute and the renamed cultural center.