NEW YORK, NY (Feb. 7, 2024)— The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced recipients of its 2024 Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund Award. OSI granted a total of $65,000 to nine Hudson River Valley organizations to fund environmental education projects and programs that engage local communities, inspire the next generation of environmental stewards, support access to fresh food, and make nature and the outdoors more available and welcoming to all people.
“The Malcolm Gordon Awards further the Hudson Valley’s amazing conservation legacy by funding programs that might otherwise not be able to accomplish their community-transforming goals. The local organizations we support are finding creative ways to get people on the land and promote careful stewardship of the region’s natural resources,” said Jessica Watson, OSI’s vice president of Conservation Communities. “This year’s awards are going to organizations that we feel are running the most inclusive, promising, and innovative educational, conservation, and cultural programs.”
Since the fund’s creation in 1994, OSI has committed nearly $1.16 million to 56 grantees.
The competitive award process begins each year with OSI identifying Hudson Valley organizations launching and hosting promising and inspiring environmental programs that align with the Fund’s goals. Selected organizations are invited to submit a formal application for committee review and individual awards range from $5,000 to $15,000, based on need and project scope.
The 2023-2024 recipients of the Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund Awards are:
Land-to-Learn: $10,000 for its “SproutEd” program, which brings garden-based education to more than 2,000 students in Newburgh, Beacon, and Kingston. Land-to-Learn builds school gardens and provides outdoor, hands-on experiences that educate the children on environmental stewardship, plant science, ecology, food systems, nutrition, and cooking.
Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative: $10,000 for its “Urban Agriculture Training Program,” which trains students and residents of Newburgh on sustainable farming and growing techniques for products including herbs, berries and small fruits, flowers, and honey, on a commercial vegetable farm. Participants can then use these skills to grow food on other farms, community gardens, or residential gardens.
Arm-of-the-Sea: $7,000 for its educational theater program, which uses live visual theater performances to show how the health of human communities is dependent on a healthy, natural ecosystems. The productions use masks and puppets inspired by nature to explore environmental issues with communities throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley. This year’s touring productions will include shows entitled, “Estuary Tales,” “Riparian Rhapsody,” and “Dirt: The Secret Life of Soil.”
The COOP Concept: $7,000 to support transportation for its vocational training program, which provides employment opportunities in sustainable agriculture, green building, and entrepreneurship for youth in Kingston. The program provides a stipend, transportation, equipment, and personal protective gear to each participant so that students from households facing economic hardship can participate in the program.
Ecological Citizen’s Project: $7,000 for its youth apprenticeship program at the Peekskill Regeneration Farm in Peekskill and the Sanctuary Healing Farm & Gardens in Newburgh. This program provides local youth with leadership and sustainable farming training, empowering them to be advocates for expanded access to nature in two Hudson Valley cities with limited access to environmental education and green spaces.
Outdoor Promise: $7,000 to expand its “Rep Nature” program. Building on the success of its existing environmental education and stewardship program, Outdoor Promise will deepen connections with communities in Newburgh by training youth leaders as environmental advocates as well as providing mentorship and hosting outdoor community events co-led by the newly trained youth leaders.
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater: $6,000 for its “Sailing Classroom” program to help provide free educational programming to schools in Newburgh, Beacon, and Peekskill that would otherwise not be able to provide this outdoor learning experience. The program provides a hands-on, outdoor educational experience in which students investigate the ecology, history, and environmental challenges of the Hudson Valley from the deck of a 108-foot-tall historic vessel along the shores of the Hudson River.
Poughkeepsie Farm Project: $6,000 for its “Root Crew Leaders” program. Root Crew leaders will be trained as peer mentors and develop skills in sustainable urban farming, culinary arts, and restorative justice. The program works to increase diverse representation in the environmental field by preparing BIPOC-identifying youth from the City of Poughkeepsie to have successful, long-term careers in agriculture and environmental education.
Stony Kill Foundation: $6,000 to provide need-based scholarships for its “Summer Explorers Camp” and host a “Family Bike Day” event. The funds will help at least 15 youth to attend camp, learn about gardening, and explore the forests and meadows of Stony Kill Farm. The Family Bike Day event engages the community and promotes public access to Stony Kill Farm.