NEW YORK, NY (Jan. 26, 2023)— The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced recipients of its 2023 Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund grants. OSI awarded a total of $68,000 to 10 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.
For the past three years, OSI’s Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund has responded to shifting needs by providing support for equity-focused projects and programs that serve the communities of Newburgh, Beacon, and Peekskill.
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 Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund awards go to organizations that are adding to the region’s amazing conservation legacy and, that we feel, are running the most promising and innovative educational, conservation, and cultural programs,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “With the Fund, we wanted to support small organizations that are finding creative ways to get people on the land and promote careful stewardship of the Hudson Valley’s natural resources.”
Since the fund’s creation in 1994, OSI has committed more than $1 million to 54 grantees.
The 2022-2023 recipients of the Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund Awards and their project descriptions are as follows:
Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative was awarded $11,000 for a project to engage San Miguel Academy youth in the design, building, and care of a fruit tree guild at Downing Park Urban Farm in Newburgh. Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative is an active partnership between organizations and individuals in the City of Newburgh, working together to foster a resilient community in which fresh food is available and accessible to all. San Miguel Academy is a tuition-free private school in Newburgh whose students are primarily Hispanic and African American. This project will enhance the productivity and health of the urban farm’s orchard and provide an opportunity to educate students about the environment, urban agriculture, and gardening.
Outdoor Promise was awarded $10,000 for its “REP Nature Leaders” project which teaches outdoor education, professional development, and leadership skills to young adults between the ages of 19-26. Focused on social justice, the project culminates with these young leaders guiding other community members on outdoor excursions. Outdoor Promise is a Newburgh–based nonprofit dedicated to creating a more inclusive and sustainable outdoor experience for all.
Land to Learn was awarded $8,000 for its “Radical Roots Youth Leadership” project. The program is a partnership with Our Core, a Newburgh-based non-profit, and Green Teen, a program in Beacon, and will provide paid summer apprenticeships to teens interested in gardening and outdoor education. Program participants learn how to grow food, work in community spaces, and facilitate garden-based learning experiences for younger children. Land to Learn’s work focuses on growing a movement for food justice and community wellness through garden-based education.
Arm-of-the-Sea was awarded $6,500 for its “How the Forest Sings to the Stream” theater project. Arm of the Sea is a theater company that uses masks and puppets inspired by the Hudson River Bioregion to host theatrical productions that educate communities in Newburgh, Beacon, Kingston, and Poughkeepsie. This year’s touring production is called “Riparian Rhapsody: How the Forest Sings to the Stream” and educates audiences about the value of forests and wetlands located adjacent to rivers and streams.
Black Rock Forest was awarded $6,500 for its “Helping Hands” program which provides hands-on opportunities for city of Newburgh high school students to learn about nature by studying safe wildlife crossroads. Black Rock Forest will be hosting the students as they catalogue the plant, amphibian, and reptile species that live near a proposed conservation project of OSI and Black Rock Forest.
Ecological Citizen’s Project was awarded $6,500 for its “Regenerative Communities in Peekskill and Newburgh” project. Through a year-long community service fellowship, the project trains participants on how to become farm stewards at farm sites in Peekskill and Newburgh. Ecological Citizen’s Project grows community-led campaigns towards a more just, healthy, democratic, and regenerative way of life.
The Bannerman Castle Trust was awarded $5,000 for its school field trip program. Bannerman Castle Trust will provide free field trips to the Hudson River island to middle school students in Newburgh, Beacon, and Peekskill. The field trips are an education opportunity for students to learn about the human and ecological history of the land and, for some students, offer the opportunity to experience their first boat ride.
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater was awarded $5,000 for its “2023 Young Women at the Helm” project. Hudson River Sloop Clearwater offers a Youth Empowerment Program to teens in New York City and the Hudson Valley. During this three-day adventure on the Hudson River, students sail the Hudson by day, and camp along its shores by night while learning and practice sailing skills, and participating in programming about environmental issues, water quality, ecology, history, and Indigenous Peoples.
Stony Kill Foundation was awarded $5,000 for its “Strengthening Outdoor Accessibility at Stony Kill Farm” project to develop and host a series of free, accessible outdoor programs for visitors with disabilities. Stony Kill Foundation operates Stony Kill Environmental Education Center in Dutchess County and will be partnering with several organizations, including the Dutchess Tourism office, Taconic Resources for Independence, the Castle Point VA Medical Center, and Dutchess County’s All Abilities Program, to create, promote, and execute the events.
Wild Earth was awarded $5,000 for its “Nature Connection & Experiential Education” which offers mentoring and outdoors experiential programming to K-12 students in Kingston. Wild Earth is a non-profit located along the Shawangunk Ridge that runs nature-based programs for children, teens, families, and adults. The program seeks to nurture connections and a sense of belonging between participants and the natural world and encourage young people to be environmental leaders within their communities.