Planet Aid Capacity and Environmental Grants Program Supports Community Development Projects in the U.S.

On Friday, July 1, Planet Aid welcomed three nonprofit organizations to the Elkridge, Maryland headquarters to celebrate its program for local grants. Community Ecology Institute (CEI), Laurel Advocacy & Referral Services (LARS) and Vehicles for Change (VFC), each received a $25,000 Planet Aid Capacity and Environmental (PACE) grant.

Planet Aid traditionally supports international development efforts, and has initiated this new program in recognition that the need for assistance is truly global, including communities in the U.S. as well.

Planet Aid has identified nonprofit organizations recognized for high quality programs in their communities, which contribute to capacity-building and/or solutions for sustainability and climate preparedness.

Planet Aid Capacity and Environmental Grant Awardees

The selection process included recommendations from a local advisory panel, site visits, and a two stage proposal development with a concept note followed by a full proposal.

Vehicles for Change (VFC) will utilize the PACE grant to help further automotive training for high school students and prisons. VFC President Martin Schwartz, stated," Vehicles for Change is honored to be one of the first three Planet Aid grantees. This funding will allow us to pilot an innovative solution to technical training, a virtual reality module that will train individuals as entry-level auto mechanics. These positions are in high demand in the region and lead to high paying careers."

Laurel Advocacy Referral Services also outlined their strategy to be more sustainable in serving homeless and low-income families in Laurel, Maryland. The organization's Executive Director, Shannon Mouton, commented about the grant, saying, "LARS is thrilled to be part of the inaugural cohort of PACE grant awardees. Planet Aid does amazing work around the world, and to be a recipient of this grant is exciting and humbling."

LARS is on the frontline of managing resources for those in need. Mouton said, "These funds will help us launch a sustainable food program that sources locally grown fruits, vegetables, and dairy products - putting money back into our community while putting food on the tables of our neighbors."

Community Ecology Institute (CEI) rounded out the three awardees for the PACE grant. The organization's mission is to enhance community health and well-being by fostering diverse connections between people and the natural world. Executive Director Chiara D'Amore and the CEI staff and volunteers, channel that mission through a variety of agricultural, sustainable, and DIY programs.

The organization will use the grant to support two new program areas:

  • the creation of a "Fiber Shed" Maker Space, which helps people learn how to repair and re-use textiles that would otherwise end up in landfills
  • the Nourishing Gardens program to promote the transition of residential lawns into vegetable gardens.

Planet Aid congratulates each awardee organization and looks forward to the implementation of these worthwhile and beneficial programs.