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$25,000 in Funding Awarded to Protect Children’s Health

Published on October 23, 2023

ANN ARBOR, MI — The Ecology Center announces the receipt of $25,000 to support work with the City of Lansing to take innovative and equitable steps to improve children’s health. Three city projects were given awards totaling $75,000 to be split between the municipalities working to reduce neurotoxic exposures for expectant families and young children while also addressing climate change. 

“Sadly, at birth, babies have already been exposed to hundreds of toxic chemicals from a wide range of sources, including consumer products, industrial pollution, and pesticide applications,” said Tracey Easthope, Senior Strategist from the Ecology Center. “This funding will help us use the power of purchasing to reduce harmful chemicals in products, thereby limiting one source of chemical exposure.”

With the funding, the City of Lansing, MI, will implement an adopted sustainable procurement policy and create practical deliverables that other municipalities can use to foster sustainable procurement in their communities. The Ecology Center will provide technical assistance and support. 

“The partnership with the Ecology Center is critical to provide important technical support for our work to implement our city’s Sustainable Procurement Policy to better protect our residents and employees, to address the changing climate, and to protect the environment,” said Lori Welch, Sustainability Manager for the City of Lansing – Public Service Department. 

The City of Lansing has been an active participant in the Great Lakes Climate Adaptation Network (GLCAN) Procurement Workgroup, formed by the Ecology Center to support regional sustainability and procurement professionals as they work towards more socially- and environmentally-conscious purchasing practices. Through the workgroup, cities, counties, and universities across the region collaborate to build robust, sustainable purchasing programs and implement progressive criteria. 

Though 35 of the 50 largest US cities have adopted local climate action plans, just a fraction of cities have integrated specific strategies to reduce ubiquitous toxic exposures within their climate, sustainability, or resilience plan. To help reduce this gap, Healthy Babies Bright Futures awarded three $25,000 grants for cities to plan a locally appropriate action that reduces neurotoxic exposures with a climate, resilience, and/or sustainability co-benefit. Cities in Michigan, Colorado, and North Carolina were selected as recipients of this funding. 

In addition to the work in Lansing, the City of Boulder, CO, will develop and implement a sharable communication campaign to leverage community environmental toxic chemical exposure studies so residents better understand the impact of lawn chemicals on prenatal and early childhood exposure and healthier alternatives. The City of Hendersonville, NC, partnered with community-based organizations on a community garden revitalization project, including growing food using organic methods, conducting cooking classes, and providing hands-on educational experiences in the garden for neighborhood children. 

“It’s exciting to see individual municipal actions being integrated into a city’s day-to-day work,” said Kyra Naumoff Shields, PhD, Bright Cities Program Director. “We are thrilled to work collaboratively with talented staff in Boulder, Hendersonville, and Lansing and with their technical advisors to support local work and share it broadly to help build brighter futures for the kids in all of our lives.” 

About the Ecology Center

The Ecology Center is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization established in 1970 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Ecology Center develops innovative solutions for healthy people and a healthy planet in four primary areas: environmental health, environmental education, energy & climate change, and zero waste. This work is accomplished through educating consumers to help keep their families healthy and safe, pushing corporations to use clean energy, make safe products, and provide healthy food, and working with policymakers to establish laws that protect communities and the environment. For more information, visit www.ecocenter.org and follow @Ecology_Center.

About the City of Lansing 

Lansing, Michigan, is a city that has a rich and diverse history. Michigan’s capital since 1848, the City of Lansing was incorporated in 1859 and is currently home to approximately 113,000 residents. The City of Lansing formally adopted its Sustainability Action Plan in 2022, demonstrating its commitment to cultivating a more vibrant, resilient, and sustainable city.

About HBBF: Healthy Babies Bright Futures is a nonprofit organization that measurably reduces the largest sources of babies’ exposures to neurotoxic chemicals that harm brain development. We use original research, city governments, and strategic partnerships to empower parents, build resilient communities, and pressure decision-makers to keep babies' brains safe from neurotoxic exposures. 

The Bright Cities program provides grants and tailored best practices to city governments to equitably reduce community exposures to neurotoxic chemicals. Forty-four cities have designed and completed projects that reduced harmful exposures to neurotoxic chemicals. Our three main areas of focus are: healthier air and environments; nontoxic and environmentally-preferable purchasing; and increasing access to organic and healthy food. View the RFP for this award.