A historic amount of public funding now exists in support of climate-resilient infrastructure in the United States, including parks, green infrastructure, stormwater capture, transportation, and clean energy. Billions are beginning to flow to California through the Federal Inflation Reduction Act, Infrastructure and Jobs Act, and Justice 40. Statewide, California’s historic climate budget, combined with existing countywide funding measures such as Measures W, A, and M, could support community-based projects that help California navigate the increasing challenges associated with climate change.
Ensuring the implementation of these funds with robust community engagement will not be easy. How do you enable community-driven planning for the environment for communities to thrive in place? A coordinated and collaborative approach will be needed, and philanthropy will have a crucial role in helping California's governmental and community organizations successfully obtain and administer these funds. Fortunately, several existing projects have shown what is possible when community-based organizations are resourced with the capacity, technical assistance, and power to bring community visions to reality.
Link LA is a successful program that has created much needed greenspace in low-income communities of color. ReDesign LA is another program that has provided critical support to develop specific nature-based solutions to capture stormwater and provide needed native habitat. Equitable community Development Planning Work has also begun along Taylor Yard along the Los Angeles River, and statewide programs like the Transformative Climate Communities program have provided millions to communities across California.
At this upcoming convening, we’ll discuss how community-driven planning and engagement can help land public funding in a way that supports equitable community development in California. We will explore the opportunities, barriers, and strategies needed to create climate-resilient, green infrastructure without displacement that allows communities to thrive in place. We’ll learn from a set of local stakeholders working on making the vision for resilient communities a reality.
About SCG Environmental Funders Group:
The SCG Environmental Funders Group meets quarterly to educate prospective and current environmental funders about environmental challenges and opportunities in Southern California and foster collaboration, and share successes and challenges. Please contact Katy Pelissier at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit the group's page on the Southern California Grantmakers' website.
This program is part of SCG's 2023 recurring programs. To register for all upcoming dates, please click the "Register for Recurring Dates" button. This feature is only open to members; please contact us if you are a non-member and wish to register for the series at email@example.com or (213) 680-8866.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA, Jon Christensen Donor Advised Fund
Jon Christensen is an adjunct assistant professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, the Department of History, and the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a journalist-in-residence at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, a founder of the Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies in the IoES, and a senior fellow in UCLA’s cityLAB. He is a partner and strategic adviser atStamen Design, an interactive design studio specializing in mapping, data visualization, and strategic communications. He is a columnist at LA Observed, a contributor to other newspapers and magazines, and a commentator on radio and television. He is also a member of Southern California Grantmakers.
Executive Director, ActiveSGV
David is a public health professional offering extensive and successful experience in planning, developing, and implementing community-based initiatives throughout Greater Los Angeles County. He’s a dedicated public servant and advocate with project management, coalition building experience that has successfully worked with youth, schools, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and cities to advance environmental justice, equity, and community development.
As the Executive Director of ActiveSGV, David is responsible for overall organization management, development, supervision of staff, and execution of various transportation, open space, and energy-related initiatives. David also serves on the Measure A Oversight Committee, Metro San Gabriel Valley Service Council, Measure W Scoring Committee (+USGR WASC) and served a 5 year term on the board of the El Monte Union High School District.
David lives in the City of El Monte with his wife Anais, baby boy Maceo, and pets Xoco and Xavi.
Principal, Taylor Yard Equity Strategy Director, LeSar Development Consultants
Natalie Donlin-Zappella, MSW, MUP
Natalie Donlin-Zappella is a native Californian of mixed indigenous American and European ancestry (mestizaje) who grew up in Southern California. She serves as the Director of the Community Taylor Yard Equity Strategy initiative and as a Principal at LeSar Development Consultants. She brings over 15 years of multi-sector inclusive community development experience working with community residents, public agencies, real estate developers, community land trusts, philanthropy, and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Natalie has extensive experience in designing and facilitating coalitions, strategic plans, stand-alone trainings, workshops, and participatory planning and research to identify shared priorities and solutions. Most recently, Natalie served as Program Director at Enterprise Community Partners in Southern California for over 5 years, where she provided technical support and led strategic partnerships, including the launch and facilitation of the LA Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing (LA ROSAH) Coalition and a 10-member LA CDC Neighborhood Exchange seeking to mitigate displacement and create a more people-centered affordable housing system through advocacy, working in collaboration with SCANPH and other regional coalitions such as ACT-LA, Healthy LA, and the LA CLT Coalition. She s received her dual master’s degree from University of Michigan Ann Arbor in urban planning and social work.
Senior Program Officer, First 5 LA
John Guevarra serves as Senior Program Officer in the Communities Team at First 5 LA. John brings over 10 years experience working with government, non-profits, political, and philanthropic sectors to help create more livable and equitable communities.
At First 5 LA, John helps support the movement-building and community power work of the Best Start Communities effort. Specifically, he works with his team to support community work in the San Fernando Valley and to improve the lives of children and their families.
He is currently Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Funders' Collaborative.
Deputy Director of Equity and Government Transformation, California Strategic Growth Council
Kirin Kumar is the Deputy Director of Equity and government Transformation at the California Strategic Growth Council where he oversees an inside-out strategy on building capacity, advancing racial equity, and removing barriers that limit communities' ability to self determine and implement transformative and equitable change. For Kirin, building and harnessing capacity in communities is the single most important strategy there is to tackling the climate crisis in a sustained, holistic, and intersectional way. Kirin's background is in public health and transportation justice, working across the Sacramento region.
Associate Director, T.R.U.S.T. South LA
Oscar Monge serves as the Associate Director of Tenemos que Reclamar y Unidos Salvar la Tierra South LA (AKA, T.R.U.S.T. South LA), a Black & Brown-led Community Land Trust (CLT) in South Central LA. He holds a dual B.A. degree in Sociology & Environmental Studies from Dickinson College, Master of Urban Planning degree from USC, and an Affordable Housing certificate from UCLA. Oscar is responsible for overseeing climate justice advocacy and community stewardship projects. He has worked consistently on Climate Investments advocacy for South LA and helped secure a Transformative Climate Communities planning grant in 2019 and $35 million implementation grant in 2022. Additionally, Oscar’s coalition work has resulted in over $515 million committed to advancing anti-displacement and tenant ownership in Los Angeles and statewide. He works closely with the LA Community Land Trust coalition to advance regional CLT movements and community ownership programs. He is currently the Board President of the California Community Land Trust Network and a Commissioner with the City’s Climate Emergency Mobilization Commission.