News Brief

“Tree Equity” Fund Brings Green to Urban Streetscapes

Access to green, tree-lined space is unequal. A new $10 million fund has been created to help low-income neighborhoods tap into federal funding.

A group of people plant a tree at a playground.

The Tree Equity Fund is intended to help ensure that federal funding for tree planting goes to the communities that need it most. 

Photo: Eileen Kane. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.
Of the huge sums of money being made available under the Inflation Reduction Act, $1.5 billion is earmarked for urban and community forestry. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to plant and grow the 522 million trees that we need in urban communities, according to the nonprofit American Forests.

But neighborhoods that need trees the most may be ill-equipped to access this funding. Lower-income neighborhoods have 41% less tree cover, and neighborhoods with a majority residents of color have 33% less canopy cover on average, according to American Forests. This systemic inequity can be traced to the practice of redlining. These same frontline communities have “historically lacked the resources or experience to access large-scale public funding,” states American Forests in its press release.

The Tree Equity Catalyst Fund will help these communities and cities quickly mobilize and apply for the Inflation Reduction Act’s landmark federal funding. This will result in more equitable access to the benefits that trees provide, including:

  • reduced air pollution
  • lower air temperatures during heat waves
  • better stormwater infiltration

The capacity support and technical assistance offered by American Forest may help stave off one of the other pitfalls of tree planting programs, which is to focus on the number of saplings planted and forget that ecological and health benefits are more closely tied to mature tree canopy, requiring time, space, and maintenance. In its own Tree Equity Score, American Forests first sets canopy targets, then estimates the number of trees using multipliers. 

For more information:

American Forests


Published January 9, 2023

Pearson, C. (2022, December 21). “Tree Equity” Fund Brings Green to Urban Streetscapes. Retrieved from

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