The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

The NeighborWoods Free Street Tree Program

Grant Information
Categories Community , Education , Environment
Location Texas
Cycle Year 2012
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) TreeFolks, Inc.
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name April T. rose
Phone 5124435323
P.O. Box 704
Additional Information
Used for TreeFolks is requesting a grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to support an expansion of the NeighborWoods program, which provides free trees along residential streets to save energy and mitigate the harmful effects of urban “heat islands.” A grant in this amount will allow us to deliver an additional 400 trees and provide educational services to neighborhoods within the greater Austin Metro area in Central Texas. NeighborWoods free trees will be delivered along with planting and care instructions directly to qualified homeowners; participants are responsible for the planting and care of their new trees and are invited to attend tree planting and care workshops at neighborhood libraries.
Benefits Investing in street trees provides lasting environmental, economic and social benefits for the entire community including improved surface water quality, increased rainwater infiltration, shade to reduce the ambient air temperature which reduces the occurrence of ground level ozone and reduces energy demands, and increased wildlife habitat. Additionally, shaded tree lined streets have higher property values lower obesity rates and lower crime rates. The NeighborWoods program provides outreach to community members with otherwise little or no tree background in hands-on tree planting and care; participants become active stewards of the urban forest who experience the environmental and social benefits associated with street trees in an urban environment.
Proposal Description Since 2002, TreeFolks has been the nonprofit contractor implementing NeighborWoods, a highly successful free street tree program available to Austin Energy customers. More than 36,000 free trees have been provided to Austin Energy customers over 10 years to reduce the urban heat island effect; that is enough trees to line 102 miles of street. Additional benefits of street trees include increased water quality and increased water infiltration which are critical to recharging the central Texas ground water supply.

TreeFolks’ professional staff of certified arborists evaluate residential neighborhoods within the greater Austin metro area. Service area neighborhoods are selected based on their percentage of tree canopy cover, the amount of space available to plant street trees and visual inspections by staff. During the site evaluation, staff members determine the number of eligible planting spaces that are located 5-15 feet from the street. Residential yards that qualify for a free street tree are marked with a pin flag to recommend the planting site for the new tree. Order forms and instructions on how to participate in the program are left on door handles of qualifying homes. Homeowners who commit to plant and water the tree(s) may enroll on TreeFolks’ website or by mailing in the enrollment form.

TreeFolks’ staff and volunteers deliver the trees between October and March. Along with their tree(s), homeowners receive a delivery packet containing planting and care instructions, urban heat island information, and additional information about the NeighborWoods program. Homeowners are responsible for planting and watering the tree for at least two years, until the tree is established. However, TreeFolks’ professional staff remains available to help homeowners with technical questions and trouble-shooting. Free tree planting and care workshops are held in the service area neighborhoods to raise awareness of the program and to help answer frequently asked questions.

The NeighborWoods program has a substantial impact on the Austin community reaching individuals regardless of ethnicity, age, or socio-economic status. The program engages community members with otherwise little or no tree background in hands-on tree planting and care and they learn environmental benefits associated with street trees in an urban environment. Participants follow newly planted trees from young, six-foot tree to beautiful 60-foot tall elements of community infrastructure. Annually, about 2,000 homes are served and about 32,000 hours of volunteer time is logged planting and caring for the new trees. This level of participation allows municipal and nonprofit organizations to focus their resources on additional tree planting, maintenance and community outreach. The NeighborWoods Program has proven to be a successful, replicable model. Average survival rates of trees are 73% and the average cost per tree delivered is only $43, which is comparable to the cost of purchasing one in a nursery.

The annual budget for the NeighborWoods program is $181,389 which delivers 4,200 free trees to the public. Austin Energy has committed to sponsor $166,080 of this which will plant 3,600 trees. The requested support of $10,000 from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation would distribute 400 trees to approximately 222 homes, provide free education to the service area citizens, and support the completion of the follow up survival survey. A renewing grant from the Save Barton Creek Association is anticipated to provide the remaining $5,000 in support for 200 trees over the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone to fully fund the program for the 2013 planting season. All or part of the requested funding would benefit the NeighborWoods free street tree program.