2024 Grants in Connecticut


Building Community Around Watershed Restoration

Grantee: Housatonic Valley Association
Grant Amount: $99,998.50
LISCIF Program Priority: Public engagement, knowledge, and stewardship.

Support the ongoing Still River Connections program begun in 2016 to provide hands-on environmental education, teach about green careers, provide job skills training, and raise awareness about home watersheds among young people. Funding will also support the program’s expansion into the Ten Mile River watershed in Dutchess County, New York.

The Housatonic Valley Association’s Connections program connects young people from underserved watershed communities with environmental restoration projects from approved watershed-based plans to provide hands-on environmental education, teach about green careers, provide job skills training, and raise awareness of their home watershed. Connections are built on strong partnerships between area schools, youth service non-profits, watershed municipalities, and conservation groups working to implement completed Watershed Plans. The year-long program includes an in-school curriculum that sets the stage for summer projects to reduce pollution, restore habitat, and improve river-oriented recreational opportunities. Connections is an offshoot of a community-based watershed planning effort that began in 2014, when stakeholders came together as the Still River Partners in Connecticut, and the Ten Mile River Collaborative in New York, to guide the development and implementation of a nine-element watershed-based management plan for the Still and Ten Mile Rivers respectively. The program addresses environmental and social needs in communities designated as disadvantaged (NYS) and/or Environmental Justice communities (USEPA).


Connecticut Shell Recovery and Shellfish Restoration Collaborative

Grantee: Collective Oyster Recycling & Restoration Foundation
Grant Amount: $99,880.00
LISCIF Program Priority: Projects that foster a diverse balance and abundant populations of fish, birds, and wildlife. Projects that help to improve water quality.

Recover and plant approximately 250,000 pounds (5000 bushels) of shells with support from non-governmental organizations and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture and Laboratory.

The project will significantly impact the sustainability and resilience of historical shellfish beds in Long Island Sound. Oyster restoration projects require large quantities of shells to ensure success. The project will divert shells from landfills and recycle them. Growing more oysters and oyster reefs will improve water quality, provide habitat for other marine species, and stabilize shorelines, which benefits shoreline communities and residents.


Improving Youth and Community Resilience Capacity Through Regenerative Design

Grantee: Alliance for the Mystic River Watershed
Grant Amount: $99,176.00
LISCIF Program Priority: Projects that enhance community resilience and sustainability.

Engage communities, especially youth, in a series of workshops to address intersectional needs of housing and food security. The project will use sound science to plan and support nature-based, regenerative solutions and facilitate participation in local decision-making regarding the Long Island Sound.

The Alliance for the Mystic River Watershed includes four towns and two Tribal Nations in the Mystic River Watershed of Long Island Sound. The Alliance is building community resilience using regenerative design workshops to create a community-led Watershed Resilience Action Plan. A series of ten workshops will be held to engage communities in dialogue on housing needs vs. environmental needs or food security vs. biodiversity loss. Workshops will use the best available science and regenerative community co-design thinking to explore problems and craft solutions. The workshops, or “design circles” will begin with youth and expand to become multi-generational when young people invite adult design experts, town commissioners, and staff in collaborative solution-seeking.

Waterfront Green Space Revitalization and Engagement

Grantee: Groundwork Bridgeport
Grant Amount: $97,633.43
LISCIF Program Priority: Public engagement, knowledge, and stewardship.

Support student stipends for community outreach, education, and placemaking initiatives through a coastal resiliency and public access campaign.

The Yellow Mill Youth Ambassador Program is part of an ongoing initiative led by the Trust for Public Land, Groundwork Bridgeport, and the City of Bridgeport that aims to enhance sustainability and resilience along the lower Yellow Mill River, a tidal estuary of the Long Island Sound in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Youth Ambassador program will engage students to conduct a comprehensive community outreach and educational campaign, emphasizing coastal resiliency and restored waterfront access. This approach will empower the community with knowledge and instill a sense of environmental stewardship. Students will collect community feedback to inform placemaking activities such as plantings, educational signage, and waterfront events, as prioritized by the community, to activate the project sites. Community engagement activities will help to create vibrant, nature-filled public spaces that promote inclusivity and support the community’s environmental understanding of the Sound.

Bridgeport Watershed Lab

Grantee: Mill River Wetland Committee
Grant Amount: $26,987.00
LISCIF Program Priority: Public engagement, knowledge, and stewardship.

Support citizen science programming for fifth-grade students in Bridgeport’s East Side neighborhood.

Fifth-grade students in Bridgeport’s historically overburdened and underserved East Side neighborhood will participate in Mill River Wetland Committee’s Watershed Unit in the fall of 2024. Students will partner with peers, who also participate in the Watershed study trip and live adjacent to the Long Island Sound Estuary, to exchange citizen science findings and personal learning experiences surrounding urban water pollution and conservation practices where they live. This opportunity will connect diverse populations using a shared watershed preservation model. Examining the unique environmental challenges facing the Sound will promote integrated problem-solving and collaborative research study. Introducing same-age peers in unknown geographic proximity will motivate students to discover the regional waterways that connect them using maps, postcards, digital pen pal technology, and Zoom video conferencing software. This project builds an aquatic-based relationship of interdependent research study at an age when students are ready to use the skills taught in younger grades. Students will learn how their actions on and near their local waterways and wetlands can affect the health of the watershed and the Sound in both positive and negative ways.

Green & Blue Learning Lab: Community-led GSI and Biological Monitoring on the Byram River

Grantee: Save the Sound
Grant Amount: $99,922.27
LISCIF Program Priority: Community-based science projects. Public engagement, knowledge, and stewardship.

Foster public understanding and environmental stewardship among high school students through the installation of green stormwater infrastructure, native planting, and collaborative freshwater monitoring in partnership with CT DEEP.

Save the Sound will partner with the Youth Bureau of the Village of Port Chester, NY to lead a pilot Green & Blue Learning Lab for high school students. Students will engage in the installation of small-scale green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and native plantings at the William James Memorial Gateway Park, adjacent to the Byram River; and macroinvertebrate monitoring in the freshwater portion of the Byram River in Connecticut as part of Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (CT DEEP) Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers program. Students will share their work at a Village of Port Chester public meeting. Municipal leaders will assume management of the site, which will continue to be a resource for constituents, offering increased access to green and blue spaces and opportunities for further skill-building through community science. Following this pilot, Save the Sound will seek additional funding sources to replicate this Green and Blue Learning Lab annually in partnership with community groups across the Long Island Sound Watershed. By nurturing awareness and skill-building through small-scale improvements like increased biodiversity and the natural filtration of polluted runoff, Save the Sound will equip a generation of environmental stewards, amplifying the forward impact of this program.

Enhancing Awareness of Green Infrastructure Benefits in Norwalk Neighborhoods

Grantee: Southwest Conservation District
Grant Amount: $32,172.36
LISCIF Program Priority: Projects that enhance community resilience and sustainability.  

Engage in community outreach and education about green infrastructure projects to address infiltration and stormwater runoff. Neighborhoods near the Norwalk River will be identified for maximum impact on improved water quality and socioeconomic needs.

This project will evaluate areas of Norwalk that could benefit from the distribution of outreach materials and the installation of green infrastructure projects. Based on the results of these studies and residential, community-based outreach efforts, educational resources about green infrastructure and relevant LID/BMP strategies will be created and distributed. Neighborhoods near the Norwalk River would be chosen based on potential impact, with consideration for impervious cover, elevated pollutant or nutrient results from pre-existing monitoring data, and socioeconomic needs. The Southwest Conservation District will work with residential property owners and relevant municipal contacts to install green infrastructure to address infiltration and stormwater runoff. Examples include installing residential rain gardens and developing concept plans for a pocket park on municipal property. This project intends to develop a comprehensive list of LID and green infrastructure needs in neighborhoods within Environmental Justice communities of the Norwalk River Watershed to create a series of recommendations and concept plans to help address issues of water quality impairment and provide relief and assistance within the distressed populations. This project will include the installation of a series of smaller residential rain gardens on the property of local homeowners. The number and location of these will be determined by receptive property owners who are contacted through outreach efforts.

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