If you haven't heard yet, there have been some changes over at The New York Community Trust and they affect environmental grantmaking in both the local and national arenas. The Trust recently hired Arturo Garcia-Costas as its new environmental program officer to oversee national and New York City environmental grantmaking. Garcia-Costas steps in for Patricia Jenny, who recently stepped up to assume the Vice President of Grants position at the Trust (Read New York Community Trust: New York City Grants).
So if you're an environmental nonprofit, what should you know about Garcia-Costas, and how does his hiring affect your chances of securing a grant?
Garcia-Costas brings over 20 years of experience in environmental work to the Trust, which continues to be one of the largest funders of New York City nonprofits with $2.4 billion in assets. Prior to his recent hiring, Garcia-Costas worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and is credited for launching the Green Gems Grants program, which supports community gardens in urban neighborhoods. He's also been involved with New York's Sea Level Rise Task Force, which explored how to make communities more resilient to coastal storms and climate change. That's a great background to bring to NYCT at this moment, given the urgency of addressing New York's vulnerability to storms after Hurricane Sandy and the red-hot interest in urban gardening and farming.
However, Garcia-Costas' environmental expertise extends well beyond the east coast. He ran a global funding initiative for the United Nations related to climate change, biodiversity conservation, and land degradation. Also on the global scale, he helped the Natural Resources Defense Council phase out lead gasoline in several countries in the western hemisphere. Going back a bit further, Garcia-Costas earned his Bachelor's in International Affairs and Theater from the City University of New York and a J.D. with a focus on international and environmental law from Stanford.
In short, here's a guy who has worked on environmental issues from a lot of different angles, which should put environmental grantseekers at ease: Garcia-Costas doesn't appear overly invested in any one approach or type of organization to the exclusion of others.
In his new role at NYCT, Garcia-Costas will take over the environmental portfolio at a moment of transition. NYCT's environment program is lumped together with its community development program, and at this time, the foundation is revamping both its national and New York City grantmaking. Next month, we should know more about NYCT's environmental grantmaking strategy, and when the staff will begin reviewing grant proposals again.
In the past, New York environmental grants have focused on solid waste management, open spaces, reclaiming the waterfront, and reducing air pollutants. The national and international program, which Patricia Jenny managed, and which is supported by the Henry Phillip Kraft Family Memorial Fund, focused on climate change, environmental health, and habitat protections.
“I’ve long been passionate about protecting this beautiful jewel of a planet and making our city a healthier, more livable place,” Garcia-Costas said in a press release. “I'm looking forward to bringing that passion to my work at The Trust.”