Supporting local, community-based biodiversity initiatives in and around Pittsburgh.
Spring was a funding stream that was developed by The Sprout Fund and sponsored by The Pittsburgh Foundation to support local biodiversity initiatives and inspire greater stewardship of the Pittsburgh region’s natural resources. It complemented and bolstered the efforts already underway in support of United Nations World Environment Day and the International Year of Biodiversity.
Biodiversity, or the variety of life on Earth, is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us with health, wealth, food, fuel, and the vital resources our lives depend on. The loss of biodiversity, due in part to human activity, has greatly accelerated in recent years. These irreversible losses impoverish us all and damage the systems we rely on every day.
Sprout designed, executed, and professionally documented a customized grantmaking and civic engagement program about biodiversity and environmental stewardship for citizens of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Following the submission of 75 requests for support in early fall 2010, The Sprout Fund engaged citizens from across the region in a comprehensive community decisionmaking process. In total, 21 biodiversity projects were supported with a total of $200,000.
The program demonstrated the value of biodiversity, catalyzed creative solutions, and increased understanding of biodiversity’s vital role in our lives both locally and globally. Spring is a prime example of how Sprout blended catalytic grantmaking with community building and storytelling to accelerate collective action.
Program In Brief
World Environment Day 2010
Pittsburgh, North American host city
Spring Biodiversity Awards Program Recap
Highlights of funded projects supported through the Spring program.
Funded Project Highlights
Spring catalyzed community-based projects that creatively addressed local biodiversity challenges and inspired greater stewardship of our region’s natural resources. 2 levels of catalytic awards were available: $20,000 and $5,000.
Projects from leading organizations for initiatives that addressed critical needs affecting our region’s biodiversity.
Community Tree Nursery
Providing a more diverse tree stock for local reforestation and ecosystem restoration efforts, while increasing the public’s understanding of urban forestry.
Garfield BioShelter and Food Systems Center
Building a permanent BioShelter greenhouse structure to extend the growing season on the farm located in the Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Heritage Seed Bank and Nursery
Maintaining a collection of seeds native to the region that are rare or “endangered” and using them to participants about seed saving and its role in communities throughout history.
Projects from organizations or individuals that positively impacted our region’s biodiversity at the grassroots level.
Chimney Swift Towers
Constructing artificial habitats for migrant Chimney Swifts along riverfront trails to increase habitat options for the birds in the Pittsburgh area.
Creating a rain garden on the grounds of a school to use stormwater runoff to irrigate native plant communities.
Remediating one-acre of knotweed-infested city-owned land in the Polish Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Pollinator Restoration and Education Program
Building and restoring native plant gardens that provide food for pollinators and increase plant, insect, and animal biodiversity.
Shaler Area Green Initiative
Constructing an educational garden using native plants and trees for use as a functional outdoor classroom.
Throughout 2010 and 2011, Spring hosted networking activities like workshops, meet-and-greet happy hours, and local site visits. These events helped coordinate activity among organizations already working to enhance biodiversity and galvanize interest among individuals and community groups that had not previously worked on this issue. Additionally, Spring staged several major public events to educate citizens about biodiversity issues and offer concrete ways for them to get involved.
On August 9, 2010, Sprout hosted the Biodiversity Symposium at the Cabaret Theater. The event featured presentations by local leaders in the academic, nonprofit, and government sectors to create awareness about biodiversity challenges.
On December 14, 2010, local leaders, community members, and funded project managers gathered at the Union Project for the Spring Awards Ceremony and Reception.
On September 10, 2011, Sprout hosted a Biodiversity Festival to celebrate the accomplishments of the Spring program and showcase both funded projects and allied organizations.
Spring was Sprout’s only program dedicated exclusively to biodiversity; however, Sprout supported many environmentally-focused projects both before and after the Spring program’s lifetime.
In 2008, Sprout’s Pittsburgh 250 program supported no fewer than 8 biodiversity projects across the region, which partially served as the impetus for creating the Spring program in 2010.
Garfield Hops Project
GTECH Strategies, in collaboration with Garfield Community Farms and the Hops Project, planted hops to increase biodiversity in vacant lots. They received a special grant of $10,000 that fostered collaboration among prior Spring projects.
Sprout worked with Bearded Studio, the design lead for the entire Spring campaign, to create and distribute a summative poster for Spring that highlighted the program’s by-the-numbers impact.
Thank you to all those who made this program possible!
- The Pittsburgh Foundation
- Bearded Studio
- Dustin Stiver