Planet Aid Awards $100,000 to Four Local Community Development Programs

Planet Aid Capacity and Environmental Grant Awardees


Planet Aid's PACE Grant program expands in second year

ELKRIDGE, MD (Aug. 30, 2023) -- Planet Aid, a nonprofit that collects and resells used clothes and shoes to fund community development programs, announced four recipients of the 2023 Planet Aid Capacity and Environmental (PACE) grants. Each nonprofit organization will receive $25,000 this year to support innovative, community-driven solutions to local challenges.

"Planet Aid is committed to funding locally-led community development programs in the U.S. and abroad that promote education, health and wellness, environmental protection and sustainable agriculture," said Planet Aid President and CEO Fred Olsson. "Each of these PACE Grant recipients demonstrate how locally-developed solutions implemented by locally-led organizations empower communities to realize their full potential.

Three Maryland-based nonprofits, the Community Ecology Institute (CEI), Vehicles for Change (VFC), and Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services (LARS), will receive their second PACE Grants in 2023 to build on the vital work they began with the funds awarded in 2022.

The newest grant awardee is Norris Square Neighborhood Project (NSNP), a Philadelphia based cultural hub committed to uniting and inspiring the surrounding community through programs aimed at the cultivation of young leaders, the preservation of Puerto Rican cultural heritage, and the stewardship of community land and environmental practices. The grant funds will help NSNP support a cultural and food production learning trip to Puerto Rico.

"Most of our youth program participants share Puerto Rican heritage, so the trip will cultivate immersive access to a culturally focused sustainable development program emphasizing agriculture, food systems, and cultural preservation," said NSNP Executive Director Teresa Elliott.

Norris Square Neighborhood Project

Vehicles for Change runs a nationally recognized program, the Full Circle Auto Repair & Training Center, which combines ASE student certification, auto mechanic internships, and job placement to reduce recidivism rates among formerly incarcerated citizens. In 2022, Planet Aid supported VFC in developing and launching a virtual reality (VR) mechanic training program to increase the number of trainees served in the program each year. This year's grant will expand this program with direct support for 60 new trainees to enter the workforce by August 2024. VFC's training program boasts one of the highest job retention rates in the country, with 95% of its trainees placed in employment.

Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services implemented the 2022 PACE grant to increase their capacity to obtain and distribute fresh produce and other donated food to Laurel residents in need of food and other basic assistance. This year's funds will be used to develop the new Grow Your Own Food Security and Mental Health Program to enable 50 households living in apartments to develop their own balcony gardens.

The Community Ecology Institute expanded its Nourishing Gardens program and added a new Maker Space to focus on promoting Fiber repair and recycling skills. CEI also partnered with LARS to provide local, fresh vegetables to residents. The 2023 grant will support CEI's efforts to strategically integrate and expand experiential climate education and action into their intergenerational programming, building on recommendations in local and state climate action plans.

PACE Grant Recipients

About Planet Aid

Planet Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that collects and recycles used clothing and shoes to protect the environment and support sustainable development in communities in the U.S. and around the world. Planet Aid operates in 17 U.S. states and has collected over 1.7 billion pounds of used clothing and shoes since it was founded in 1997. Funds raised through the sale of used textiles are used to support community development projects through Planet Aid's global partners in the Humana People to People Federation, along with the PACE grants in local US communities. More at

Media contact:

Haley Chitty

(443) 401-6939