Partner Spotlight: POIC

POIC is part of the 11-member coalition for our IRA Community Forestry Grant

On a sunny Saturday morning at Gateway Green Park, volunteers gathered to plant native plants on the wooded hillside of the park. Many of the volunteer crews were led by quiet but capable young folks from POIC.

Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC) connects high school youth with career training, including partnering with Friends of Trees. POIC students train as crew leaders and lead Friends of Trees plantings throughout the season. Gateway Green was this cohort’s fifth event overall this season, and second as crew leaders.

“This season is going great,” says Leigh Rappaport, Program Manager for POIC’s Natural Resource Pathway. “They’re a really committed group. They care about what they’re doing and are thoughtful about making sure volunteers are having a good time.”

POIC is part of the 11-member coalition led by Friends of Trees that was awarded a $12 million Urban and Community Forestry Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the Inflation Reduction Act grants. The grant will fund community forestry work including tree planting, natural area restoration, post-planting care, community education, opportunities for direct community input and participation, and workforce training.

Part of the grant will help fund POIC’s natural resource training for five years. “Having this funding gives us room to breathe” Leigh says. “We can really focus on the program.”

Beyond that, Leigh looks forward to all of the partnerships that will grow out of this expansive and collaborative project.

“We’re excited to be part of a coalition being built from the ground up.”

The Eugene Branch’s Greenpower Grant

Expanding Equity and Sustainability Work with an EWEB Greenpower Grant

Eugene residents can support tree planting through Eugene Water and Electric Board’s Greenpower program. Residents can volunteer to donate one cent per kilowatt-hour toward funding environmental projects.

Friends of Trees is grateful to be a recipient of a Greenpower grant, which includes $50,000 over two years to plant trees in low income, high diversity neighborhoods that also have low canopy and high heat. As part of the effort to increase tree equity in Eugene, the trees are provided to residents for free through this program. We then engage treecipients in tree stewardship beyond the planting to ensure that the trees can have a sustained impact on their neighborhood.

“For just a penny for every kilowatt-hour, Eugene residents can help make their communities more sustainable,” said Cheryl Froehlich from EWEB to volunteers as she thanked them at the Friends of Trees’ Mangan Park planting event last month.

As part of this Greenpower grant funded work, Friends of Trees formed a productive partnership with members of the neighborhood association Active Bethel Community (ABC), City of Eugene, and local businesses.

When the neighborhood expressed interest in more street, yard, and park trees, we offered free street and yard trees to all neighborhood residents, and used equity mapping applications to choose two focus areas around neighborhood parks to do extra work. There, ABC residents went door to door to each house with a public planting space and talked to residents. Friends of Trees staff helped with site selection, questions and sign ups.

With funding from the Greenpower grant, the capstone of this year’s Friends of Trees work was putting on two planting events in West Eugene, in the Bethel neighborhoods around Gilbert Park and Mangan Park. To honor the mission of the grant and meet our own goals of increasing the sustainability of our events, we incorporated more bicycle crews. Both plantings had four bike crews and two carpool crews. We towed the gear and trees on bike trailers, and the volunteer planters either biked or walked from house to house.

Friends of Trees also hosted multiple free tree walks in each focus area park, and completed several additional smaller neighborhood plantings, tree walks, and community outreach events.

The City of Eugene made major contributions to the canopy in the same neighborhoods, with plantings in the focus area parks, pruning work in the neighborhood, and a major series of planting events on Highway 99, one of the main heat islands in Eugene.

“The pandemic, racial justice issues, and extreme heat of the last few years, have focused our urban tree planting work more intentionally on equity, sustainability, and resilience.” says Eugene Director Erik Burke. “The Greenpower grant has allowed us to expand this work.”

We are excited to use Greenpower grant funding to grow and improve our work in Bethel and expand the approach to Trainsong neighborhood for next planting season.