CITGO Supports Community Projects in Gulf of Mexico

By Samaya Rubio

The 2022-2023 year of the Caring for our Coast Grants saw a variety of recipient projects tackle a diverse array of challenges in their local communities, including trash cleanups, tree plantings, and youth education events.  

One of the recipients, the Bay Area Women Coalition has been working with CITGO and Restore America’s Estuaries to receive funding for their

Trinity Gardens Beautification project called #teamup2cleanup for a number of years and have only seen the success of their cleanup efforts grow. This year the coalition was able to expand their event to span an entire week. They worked with partners such as high school sports teams, university professors and students, and their local health department and power provider to beautify their neighborhood, picking up trash and providing soil contaminate testing to their neighborhood. This year’s event gained so much attention that it was featured on two local news channels and they received a large amount of attention on their social media platforms.  

Students gather at L9 CSED event to learn about local issues

Another recipient, the Lower 9th ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) from New Orleans, Louisiana, took a different approach. 

The organization was formed on the mission of “addressing the underlying causes of the disaster, focusing on community engagement and coastal restoration as a long term solution.” Their event, the Saving Estuaries Through Educational Development (SEED) was created to offer “hands-on coastal restoration educational engagement for young people from frontline communities.” CSED teamed up with a local high school in New Orleans to discuss climate change, tour a native wetland ecosystem, and pot 1,100 native trees that are important to restore the Central Wetlands Unit that borders the Lower 9th Ward of the New Orleans Parish.  

“The students we worked with that day provided us with much needed hope for the future of our communities, and our planet. It reminded us of the importance of uplifting young people, especially young people of color, who are on the frontlines of climate change. Their voices are the ones who are going to be heard decades from now and if, at 14-15 years old, they are learning the importance of planting a tree and how to ensure its survival, then the possibilities of what that seed could grow into are endless and may very well contain the solutions we need to face the problems we will be confronted with decades from now,” according to Arlo Townsley from CSED.

An organization out of Florida, Keep Pinellas Beautiful (KPB) was also a recipient of this year’s Caring for our Coast grant. The organization worked with the High Point Community, an unincorporated community that is widely used as a corridor to major highways and bridges and is adjacent to many bodies of water that flow into the Bay, supporting fish nurseries, sea turtle nesting habitats, and commercial fishing inlets. Through funding from the Caring for our Coast grant, KPB has been able to host beautification projects, restoration projects, and educational events which resulted in almost 200 volunteer hours, litter and invasive species removal, native plant planting, and mulch laying. KPB was also able to maintain their Litter Hotline Program and has removed thousands of pounds of litter while deepening relationships with individuals and business owners as a result. 

The Caring for our Coast Grant was also able to fund a disaster preparedness project from the Pontchartrain Conservancy. The project also provides community members with supplies to clean storm drains in their communities to clear debris from the drains before they lead to waterways and can cause backups and flooding during disaster events.

The grant program also provided funding to Common Ground Relief for their Big Branch Build Day to educate the community about the importance of wetlands, plant grass plugs, and create a recycled sand berm.  

These projects were funded through the 2023 round of the Caring For Our Coast Gulf Region Grants, a partnership between RAE and Citgo. For more information, click here.