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Planting Seeds of Change through Philanthropy

Trees add essential vitality to communities.

The benefits are numerous – from much-needed shade, greenery and beautification, to helping to reduce carbon emissions and provide habitats for birds and other species.

And thanks to philanthropy, San Diego is getting even greener.

With grant support from funds at The San Diego Foundation, nonprofit organization Tree San Diego and its partner Balboa Park Conservancy planted more than 20 new trees in Balboa Park this month as part of efforts to diversify and augment the park’s urban forest.

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Tree San Diego is also working with Urban Corps and other partners such as Groundwork San Diego to launch the Junior Tree Steward Certificate Program to raise a new cohort of tree caretakers and promote healthy trees in every neighborhood throughout San Diego, particularly those needing more tree canopy.

Fifth graders from Chollas-Mead Elementary School were the first students to get hands-on training thanks to the Junior Tree Steward Certificate Program. They learned planting, watering and other techniques that will enable them to care for the next generation of trees to line San Diego’s neighborhoods.

Giving Back to the Environment

One year ago, local philanthropists and longtime community advocates Cliff and Carolyn Colwell were inspired by Tree San Diego’s application to The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors Program grant cycle. As a result, the Colwells joined together with other donors committed to the environment to support Tree San Diego’s work in the region.

Today, thanks to that collaborative philanthropy, Tree San Diego is helping to move the needle in increasing access countywide to an interconnected network of natural areas, gathering places, and trails so that the outdoors is easily accessible from any San Diegan’s doorstep.

By funding this partnership-based project, the Colwells were able to support and leverage the impact of multiple nonprofits in the San Diego region, with each playing a vital role in the stewardship certificate.

Balboa Park Conservancy has managed hands-on field training for more than 100 students, while Groundwork San Diego builds educational material into existing school curriculum, and Urban Corps integrates the program into its youth training.

The Tree San Diego project is one example of the effectiveness of collaborative philanthropy.

Stay tuned for news this spring of our 2017 Opening the Outdoors grantees who do the same to protect, connect and increase access to San Diego’s great outdoors!

Learn More About the Opening the Outdoors Program


About Nicola Hedge, MPIA

Nicola Hedge, MPIANicola leads implementation of The San Diego Foundation’s environmental initiatives, working with donors, nonprofits, business and government partners to advance community efforts that protect our region’s clean air and water, natural resources and quality of life. Nicola joined The Foundation after working as a field research manager for a World Bank research project in rural Malawi and earning a master’s degree from UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

Read more posts by Nicola

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