NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica White, New York Restoration Project Executive Director Amy Freitag, Rockefeller Foundation Associate Director Edwin Torres, Chair of Green Belt Movement-U.S. Mia MacDonald, and Municipal Art Society gathered this morning to announce the inauguration of the Dr. Wangari Maathai Award for Civic Participation in Sustainability. The announcement was made in Morningside Park, in front of the Dr. Wangari Maathai Tree.
This annual $10,000 award will be given to one female and one male public high school senior. The winners will have demonstrated evidence of their academic and extracurricular commitment to environmental stewardship within the urban context through their development and execution of sustainability-themed projects (for example, recycling, energy monitoring, parks stewardship, greening). These projects will also have promoted the spirit of civic engagement in fellow students and the community at large. The award is intended to be put to use by the student for their first year of college.
“The New York City Parks Department is honored to celebrate and commemorate the life of Dr. Wangari Maathai with an award honoring the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Parks Commissioner Veronica White. “Dr. Maathai’s unique concept of enhancing the environment to reduce poverty and empower women through the Green Belt Movement is an inspiration to all. I thank the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Midler Family Trust for their partnership in inaugurating this award.”
“Wangari Maathai devoted her life to mobilizing communities to use environmental conservation as a way to improve livelihoods and security, and as a result transformed communities within Kenya,” said Edwin Torres, Associate Director, the Rockefeller Foundation. “For nearly 100 years, the Rockefeller Foundation has been devoted to the well-being of humanity, and there is no better person to honor for the profound work she has done to better humanity than Wangari Maathai. We look forward to seeing how the next generation of environmental stewards are inspired by Wangari Maathai and use this scholarship as a platform for change.”
“We are proud to help inaugurate an award that fosters environmental stewardship in the name of Dr. Wangari Maathai,” said Bette Midler. “Her whole life was dedicated to promoting environmental conservation as a way to lift people out of poverty. We hope that the students who receive this grant will follow her lead and learn to foster democratic space and sustainable livelihoods.”
“This award is a terrific way of honoring Wangari's life and legacy, including her strong commitments to the environment, community engagement, and fostering the leadership of young women and men,” said Mia MacDonald, chair of the board of the Green Belt Movement-U.S. “Wangari loved New York -- its energy, diversity, and yes, its many trees and parks-- so it's wonderful that two young New York City high school students wlll be acknowledged for their achievements in her name. The Green Belt Movement is grateful to the award's initiators and supporters, and looks forward to the announcement of the first recipients in 2013.”
Applicants for this award must:
• Be a senior in NYC public school intending to attend college in fall 2013
• Demonstrate commitment to and activity in civic engagement
• Demonstrate commitment to and activity in sustainability projects
• Provide evidence of having completed a sustainability project in high school that shows evidence of leadership, commitment to sustainability, mobilization of others
Dr. Wangari Maathai is the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004). Dr. Maathai was a visionary environmentalist and founder of the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting campaign to promote sustainable development, woman's empowerment, and democracy in Kenya. The Green Belt Movement is a non-profit grassroots non-governmental organization based in Kenya. The mission of the Green Belt Movement is to mobilize community consciousness using tree planting as an entry point for self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods and security, and environmental conservation.
Since Dr. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, more than 45 million trees have been planted in Kenya to reduce erosion and improve the environment and impoverished communities. Through tree-plantings, Dr. Maathai envisioned enhancing the environmental, social, and economic climate in Kenya. By planting and caring for trees, Kenyan women have played a direct role in improving their local communities, have understood the various benefits of trees, have taken ownership for conserving their natural resources, and have served as stewards of their environment. In 2004, Dr. Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to sustainable development, democracy and peace.