Riverfront North Partnership Awarded Grant of $253,500 from National Fish and Wildlife for Collaborative Watershed Stewardship Program in Northeast Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA (September 6th, 2022) Riverfront North Partnership received $253,500 to partner with the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Partnership (TTF) and PowerCorpsPHL on a “green” job skill training program that will steward the Delaware River watershed in Northeast Philadelphia.

This is one of 45 grants awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) this past week totaling nearly $15.8 million to improve wildlife habitat, enhance resilience to changing climatic conditions, and engage communities throughout the Delaware River watershed in conservation activities.

This grant-funded project will build capacity for its partners to offer job skill training for disconnected youth in the City of Philadelphia’s watershed parks. It will help to steward the Riverfront North Greenway and Tacony Creek Park from Port Richmond to Torresdale, and from Frankford to Olney. This project will benefit users of the watershed trails, which connect to the regional Circuit Trail (500 miles) and East Coast Greenway (3,300 miles) networks.

PowerCorpsPHL, operated by EducationWorks, will provide training and oversight for dedicated work crews for the watershed parks and trails. With guidance from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Riverfront North Partnership and TTF will coordinate with PowerCorpsPHL to identify areas in the parks that would provide environmental stewardship learning. For example, PowerCorpsPHL participants will learn about native tree planting and care, identifying and removing invasive plant species, and working with community volunteers.

“Working with partners like the City of Philadelphia, TTF, and PowerCorpsPHL will help with shoreline restoration projects on the Delaware River watershed.” said Stephanie Phillips, Executive Director of Riverfront North Partnership. “It comes on the heels of a new Trail & Sidepath Maintenance Study completed by the City of Philadelphia, which has identified enormous stewardship needs in Philadelphia. We see our municipal/non-profit partnership as a model for environmental learning about watersheds and collaborative care of our shared natural spaces.”

“We are so excited about this opportunity to work with NFWF funding and long-time partners Riverfront North Partnership and PowerCorps PHL to support skills training, build stewardship capacity, and improve Tacony Creek Park. Through our current Master Plan process, we have confirmed that cleanliness and maintenance are prime concerns for neighbors. This project will enable us to develop solutions to address this park and trail issue” said Julie Slavet, Executive Director of Tookany/Tacony Watershed Partnership.

“This investment recognizes the value of community-based collaboration and enables the growth of our longstanding partnerships which have been critical to filling the gap on urban natural lands stewardship, access, and equity,” said Julia Hillengas, Executive Director of PowerCorpsPHL. “We’re beyond excited to get things done with Riverfront North Partnership, TTF, and the City of Philadelphia.”

The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, created in 2018, is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to achieve the goals of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. The Act guides and supports federal, state, regional, and local partners to collaboratively identify, prioritize, and implement habitat restoration and conservation activities within the watershed. 

The Delaware River watershed covers 13,539 square miles of land and water, running from the Catskills in New York through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, ultimately emptying into the Delaware Bay. Despite its position in a major metropolitan corridor, the watershed is home to a remarkable variety of species and their habitats — from mountainside cold water streams to tidal salt marshes — that are economically, ecologically, and culturally important to the region. Urban and suburban waterways play a major role in the watershed’s communities, with headwaters in neighboring rural and agricultural areas. Grant projects are implemented across this variety of landscapes, serving to improve wildlife habitat and human communities, accelerate implementation of best practices, provide opportunities for people to engage with nature, and ultimately benefit water quality locally and for those downstream.

Funded projects will contribute to long-term outcomes for equitable access to nature, resiliency, healthy habitat, and a thriving outdoor economy. This year’s grant slate also includes projects with nature-based solutions that address disparities in access to nature by putting equity, justice and cultural competency at the core of their work. 

About the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF)

Grants were awarded through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF), a program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The DWCF is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to achieve the goals of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. The Act guides and supports federal, state, regional and local partners to collaboratively identify, prioritize, and implement habitat restoration and conservation activities within the watershed. In five years, the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund has funded 159 projects that provide vital support to fish and wildlife, help support economic vitality, and contribute to quality of life through public access and outdoor recreation opportunities. The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed has advocated, year over year, for robust federal funding to support this essential program.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.

About Riverfront North Partnership

Riverfront North Partnership works with the City of Philadelphia to create, activate, and steward an 11-mile network of parks and trails on the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia. RNP was founded in the belief that every Philadelphian has the right to direct access its rivers. The trail is currently 65% built, and seven of the eight planned parks are open to the public. Even as we see the dream for a continuous river trail in Northeast Philadelphia – and connections to the national East Coast Greenway trail system – becoming a reality, we are building a diverse community of stewards for these spaces through outdoor recreation,, nature and cultural activities, and volunteerism.  For more information, visit riverfrontnorth.org.

About TTF

The TTF Watershed Partnership is committed to connecting its watershed residents and communities to their creeks! Through hands-on education, stewardship, restoration, and advocacy, TTF empowers its constituents to take care of and improve the impaired waterways across 30 square miles. From the headwaters in Abington, Cheltenham, Jenkintown, Rockledge, and Springfield in Montgomery County – to neighborhoods in North, Northeast, and Northwest Philadelphia – TTF educates neighbors and stakeholders about clean water issues and how we can all make a difference at our homes and businesses, on our trails, and in our parks and communities. TTF is a Philadelphia Water Department, Upstream Suburban Philadelphia Delaware River Watershed Initiative, and Alliance for Watershed Education partner. In Philadelphia, TTF focuses on Tacony Creek Park, collaborating with neighbors to discover this historic urban watershed park, trail, and creek through creative engagement efforts, such as mural, oral history, photography, and music projects; improvement programs such as plantings and cleanups, and activities including regular health, nature, and history walks, and block parties. We sponsor the park friends group, TCP Keepers.

About PowerCorpsPHL

PowerCorpsPHL (PCPHL) connects people to careers and advances community.  For the past nine years, PCPHL has engaged un- and under-employed 18- to 30-year-olds in an immersive, paid 4- to 24-month experience that results in connection to living wage jobs in clean energy, green infrastructure, and community-based careers.  PCPHL, operated by EducationWorks, addresses issues of racial equity, unemployment, and gun violence head on by providing innovative supportive services and competitive wages for training that leads to career pathway jobs for young Black and Latinx Philadelphians who have barriers to quality employment related to court involvement, lack of postsecondary education and work experience, and the effects of poverty.  PCPHL specifically recruits young people most impacted by the city’s gun violence epidemic and lack of opportunities.  To date, 92% of graduates transition to career pathway employment and justice-involved young people average an 8% one-year post-program recidivism rate compared to the citywide average of 45%.