Port of Seattle awards more than $85,000 to local environmental projects

Port of Seattle Commissioners John Creighton and Fred Felleman recognized the initial recipients of the Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund Small Matching Grants program at the Environmental Science Center in Burien on Wednesday. A total of $85,900 in grants were awarded to 11 community projects. Back row: Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman, Tammy Coburn/Weed Warriors, Andrew and Adam Powers/Key Tech Labs, George C. Scott/artist, Des Moines Legacy Foundation, Dan Johnson/Des Moines Rotary Foundation. Middle Row: Robin Webster/Friends of Saltwater State Park, Patrice Thorell/Reach Out Des Moines, John Feeney/New Start Community Garden, Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. Front Row: Wendy Morgan/Highline Botanical Garden Foundation, Natalie Charise/Key Tech Labs, Mary Eidemann/Futurewise, Sally Wolf/Zero Waste Washington, Tara Luckie/Environmental Science Center, Grace Stiller/Weed Warriors. Photo courtesy: Don Wilson/Port of Seattle

A robot to tend a community garden, battling invasive species, tree planting, and a public art project celebrating the area’s seafaring heritage are among the 11 projects that received $85,000 in grant funding from the Port of Seattle this week.

The Port awarded the first grants under its new Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund Small Matching Grants Program to assist communities around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The organizations received a share of the initial $85,900 in grants awarded by the program. For each dollar awarded under the program, recipients must demonstrate three dollars in value to the community, according to state law. All grants received the full amount requested.

“We are proud to be able to fund this first round of grants under our innovative Small Matching Grants Program,” said Port Commissioner John Creighton. “The Port of Seattle recognizes how important it is to be a good neighbor, and these programs reflect the best spirit of collaboration between the Airport and the cities of SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines.”

Creighton added, “I am pleased with the number of applications and strength and diversity of the programs being funded in the initial round of grants. Together we’re going to make these funds benefit the environment and quality of life in all three communities.”

The Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund offers grants to organizations to improve the natural environment through projects and programs that improve livability in near- airport communities

The $1 million ACE Fund was authorized by the Port of Seattle Commission in November 2016 in recognition that neighboring communities that experience more impacts from airport operations should also experience additional benefits. The Commission directed that the program support environmental projects and programs in the cities of Burien, Des Moines and SeaTac.

A total of $550,000 in the ACE Fund Small Matching Grants Program will be distributed to community organizations over the course of three years (2017-2020). The next grant cycle will begin in January 2018 with awards to be distributed in the spring. The remaining ACE Fund program dollars will be distributed as part of the Green Cities Partnership Program to help cities start initiatives to expand and nurture urban forest.

Here are the specific grant recipients and their projects:

  • Farmbot – Ecotech in an Urban Garden, Key Tech Labs, Des Moines ($3,250).
    This project will combine STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and healthy food education by teaching youth how to build a robot which will tend a community garden in Des Moines’ high poverty area of Pacific Ridge.
  • Beach Heroes, Environmental Science Center, all cities ($10,000).
    Grant will sustain program’s ability to partner with Highline School District teachers to bring 1,200 students to an education center at Burien’s Seahurst Park.
  • Make Burien Awesome, Weed Warriors, Burien ($10,000).
    Weed Warriors, a local non-profit, will host habitat restoration work parties in Burien parks to remove invasive species and plant trees, coordinate a public forum at the Library and provide information on the local impacts of climate change.
  • Midway Community Garden, Reach Out Des Moines, Des Moines ($1,150).
    Grant funds will be used to acquire materials to start constructing the Midway Park Community Garden project in Des Moines.
  • Community Garden and Healthy Food Classes, New Start Community Garden, Burien ($10,000).
    The grant will enable community volunteers to buy garden soil, plants, and other materials for a community garden located at New Start High School and increase access to healthy meals for youth participating in the summer program.
  • Plastics and Litter Reduction Program, Zero Waste Washington, Burien ($10,000).
    This project will create a litter assessment tool, test and refine the tool during cleanup events, produce waste reduction educational materials and conduct outreach to motivate residents to reduce their plastic waste and littering to protect stormwater and freshwater pathways flowing into Puget Sound.
  • StormFest, Futurewise, all cities ($10,000).
    This program aims at increasing Highline Public Schools students’ understanding of stormwater, reduce behaviors contributing to pollution and inspire stewardship long-term by providing hands-on, experiential education.
  • Neighborhood Heritage Garden, Highline Botanical Garden Foundation, SeaTac ($10,000).
    Grant funds will support the development of a neighborhood history research project that will inform the design of the new Neighborhood Heritage Garden.
  • Puget Sound Environmental Sculpture, Des Moines Legacy Foundation, Des Moines ($10,000).
    The grant enables the Foundation to collaborate with a local artist and community partners to create a public art sculpture to be located on the Des Moines waterfront.
  • Invasive Weed Removal and Awareness Campaign, Friends of Saltwater State Park, Des Moines ($1,500).
    This project aims to remove invasive ivy and other species that are taking over Saltwater State Park to improve health of existing trees, plant more trees, and create an awareness campaign regarding healthy environmental stewardship in Des Moines.
  • Midway Park & Play Area Restoration, Des Moines Rotary Foundation, Des Moines ($10,000).
    The grant provides funds that enable volunteers to repair and maintain park equipment to enhance the beauty and recreational value of the park for youth and families to enjoy.

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