June 7, 2019
In 2017, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia (CFNOVA) launched our Environment Fund, with a mission “to protect, restore and improve the natural environment of Northern Virginia, thereby enhancing the health and quality of life of its citizens and the economy of the region.” The fund’s goals include supporting collaboration, public awareness, and public engagement to improve and protect the natural environment.

EnviornmentFund2019We were therefore extremely pleased to award a grant to the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) to support their long-standing collaborative work in Northern Virginia. The Environment Fund grant matches a seed grant from the Prince Charitable Trusts and includes funding from a second anonymous donor and friend of CFNOVA.

The combined grants will enable CSG to hire a Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager, who will have a primary focus in Fairfax but will be available to assist community advocates in adjoining jurisdictions. Illustrative of the collaborative approach which attracted us to CSG, the launch event included CSG partners from the conservation, sustainable transportation, affordable housing, and social services sectors. Following the award event and discussions, CSG’s Executive Director, Stewart Schwartz, led a walking tour of the Beacon Hill area of Richmond Highway illustrating the interconnection of land use, transportation, and housing with environmental sustainability and social equity.

“This grant will have a tremendously positive impact for CSG, more than doubling our capacity to build coalitions and help the Northern Virginia suburbs become more sustainable,” said Schwartz. “As the suburbs face growing environmental and equity challenges, the support of local donors through the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is essential. We are extremely grateful for the support.”

CSG is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Founded by the region’s leading environmental groups, CSG convenes cross-sector coalitions such as their 14-member Richmond Highway Coalition comprising water quality, transit, bicycle/pedestrian, smart growth, affordable housing and social services organizations. Together, the groups won passage of the Embark Richmond Highway plan which combines transit-oriented redevelopment of commercial centers and parking lots, with expanded stream buffers and restoration, green streets, and modern stormwater management. CSG also recently coordinated the release of the Fairfax Healthy Communities Platform to share with candidates for office and for the public – highlighting important conservation, smart growth, affordable housing and social equity priorities for the county.

CSG’s Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager organizer will expand coalitions, public education and engagement, and shape policies that will ensure Fairfax and Northern Virginia grow more sustainably and equitably. Specific goals for the new staff person include winning policies and funding for:
  • Mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable transit-oriented development (TOD) at Metro stations and commercial corridors
  • Expanded stream buffers and parks, forest protection, and improved stormwater management
  • Transit, bicycle/pedestrian/street investments that take precedence over highway expansion
  • Reduced vehicle miles traveled, greenhouse gas, ozone and particulate pollution
  • More affordable housing close to jobs and transit

In addition to expanding cross-sector coalitions, CSG will update and release a sustainability vision, host educational walking tours and forums, advance sustainability policies and help expand the grassroots movement for environmental sustainability and social equity.

It’s a critical time for Northern Virginia and our environment. Smarter growth to reduce air and water pollution, habitat loss, and greenhouse gas emissions, is more important than ever. Time is short for our communities to act for the reversal of damage already done to the communal environment. CFNOVA and our generous donors aim to do their part to support and strengthen groups on the front lines of environmental sustainability efforts.