Trust for Public Land Announces Five Cities for Millions in Focused Urban Canopy Investment in Community Schoolyards  

TPL Investing $10 Million in U.S. Forest Service Funding from the Inflation Reduction Act Including for the Cities of Chandler and Mesa, Arizona, Concord, California, Auburn, New York, and Salem, Oregon 

San Francisco, CA — Trust for Public Land [TPL] is proud to announce the awarding of over $4.5 million to five cities that will advance ambitious urban and community forestry initiatives in their communities. Five awards from the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program [USFS] have been granted to Chandler, AZ, Mesa, AZ, Concord, CA, Auburn, NY, and Salem, OR. These funds were provided as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest-ever federal commitment to combatting climate change 

“TPL is incredibly honored and excited to partner with the cities of Chandler, Mesa, Concord, Auburn, and Salem to invest this funding in tree planting and nature-based solutions. These efforts will provide much needed cooling, health, and learning benefits for residents and students in their communities,” said Danielle Denk, Senior Director of TPL’s National Schoolyards Program. “More than a third of America’s 50.8 million public school students attend a school located in a heat island, and today is a strong first step in communities across the country in addressing this health and learning challenge.” 

“Thanks to the exceptional efforts of our partner, Trust for Public Land, we’re making significant strides in reaching communities in need of tree canopy, particularly at schools,” said Nausheen Iqbal, Acting Assistant Director for Forest Service Cooperative Forestry, Urban and Community Forestry Program.  “TPL’s dedication to this cause is instrumental in creating healthier and more vibrant environments for our children and future generations.” 

The IRA’s historic infusion of critically needed funding into the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program was enacted specifically to bring the climate benefits of trees and green spaces to all Americans, particularly in historically underinvested and marginalized communities where lack of tree cover has exacerbated ever-increasing heat island, public health, and economic challenges. TPL is continuing to use its awarded $10 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to expand its longstanding commitment to address these interrelated issues, and to enhance equitable access to the outdoors, through strategic investments in increasing tree canopy in high-need communities and through the development of forested community schoolyards. 

The nation’s public schools occupy 2 million acres of land. They are often seas of asphalt that bake under the hot sun and flood during downpours. And more than a third of America’s 50.8 million public school students attend a school located in a heat island, TPL aims to reverse that trend. 

“As more communities face the challenges of a changing climate, learning for many students and educators has been highly impacted. Catastrophic flooding events, wildfire and extreme heat have ushered in a new form of school closure, ‘snow days’ have been replaced by ‘high heat advisories’, and ‘hazardous air quality days’ and extreme flooding that render schools inoperable for months at times. The learning loss due to these more frequent and extreme events is still being quantified, but we already know one solution – more trees,” continued Denk. 

Trees cool and clean the air, they bring down ambient temperatures and help schools mitigate the impacts of climate change. Densely planted green space can reduce temperatures by as much as 17 degrees. With nearly 350 community schoolyards in 23 states transformed and fortified with green space, TPL is leading work in communities across the country so that every school has a densely planted green space and canopy that allows for outdoor learning.  

Through TPL’s Forested Community Schoolyard Program, these investments are supporting Salem, Oregon to improve tree canopy cover at schools.

We are looking forward to using the grant funds to cultivate young minds with hands on learning of urban forestry principles. We will work hard to establish apprenticeship programs in the growing field of arboriculture to disadvantaged young adults that will promote equality in the greening of our city,” said Milan Davis, Urban Forester, City of Salem. 

Mesa, Arizona will be cooling schoolyards through their “trees are cool” program. Nearby in Chandler, Arizona, the city will be planting street trees around schools in high need communities.

“Our residents want cleaner air and cooler neighborhoods. We can achieve these goals by planting trees. Mesa is a committed to this partnership and is excited to support students as they learn how to plant and care for trees,” said Laura Hyneman, City of Mesa’s Deputy Director of Development & Sustainability.

“Engaging students in environmental and sustainability projects provides a rich context for learning. They’re not just memorizing facts; they’re applying scientific concepts, collaborating with peers, and developing problem-solving skills that will serve them well in any academic or professional pursuits. With help from TPL and Federal support, this grant will help innovative educators and dedicated students who are leading the charge toward a more sustainable future,” said Renee Parker, Director of Community Partnerships at Mesa Public Schools.

“The benefits of a healthy urban forest are numerous, yet, the resources needed to expand and nurture our city’s trees are limited. We are grateful to partner with the US Forest Service and Trust for Public Land to achieve community-wide equity and a robust enhancement to Chandler’s urban forest. Through our partnership, we will increase education and awareness while emphasizing the environmental, economic, and quality-of-life benefits that a thriving urban forest provides,” John Sefton, Jr., City of Chandler’s Community Services Director.

Auburn, New York will speed implement the city’s Urban Forestry Management Plan, planting over 1,100 trees to address hot spots and increase tree canopy through partnerships in its West End neighborhoods and the Auburn City School District.

“As we continue to face climate challenges and the continued threat of invasive species, it is imperative that we take measures to mitigate the negative impact on our residents.  One way that we can do that is through investing in and improving our urban forest.  A healthy urban forest provides cleaner air and cooler temperatures and has a positive impact on our quality of life.  Many thanks to The Trust for Public Land and the United States Forest Service for this unprecedented and impactful investment in our community,” said James N. Giannettino, Jr., Mayor, City of Auburn, New York. 

The City of Concord will work to protect, enhance, and expand existing urban tree canopy in disadvantaged and nature-deprived communities, to plant and maintain additional shade trees to reduce urban heat island effects including in parks and areas near schools.

“TPL’s supportive partnership has been outstanding in working with us to finalize investments for the $1 million in IRA Funded USFS Urban Community Forestry grant awarded to the City of Concord,” said Kit P. Jory Sr, Parks Division Manager at the Department of Public Works for the City of Concord. 

TPL appreciates the commitment of each of these five cities to join with TPL and the U.S. Forest Service in our efforts to create healthier, more equitable, and climate-resilient communities. This investment will bring communities and schools one step closer in our collective efforts to combat climate change, better establish urban canopies where needed and enhance the well-being and learning outcomes of students from communities across the country.


 About Trust for Public Land    

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,420 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $94 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.7 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit