Colorado Gives Day: Resources from The Alliance Center

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Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 4. On this day of giving, thousands of Coloradans come together to support nonprofit organizations across the state. The Alliance Center has set a goal of raising $25,000. You can help us reach this goal! A gift of any amount helps us continue our work toward an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future for all. Visit our Colorado Gives Day page to learn more and schedule your gift. Make sure to check our list of Colorado companies who match their employees’ donations, and reach out to your HR department to double your impact!

You can also help spread the word! Click here to download our Colorado Gives Day social media toolkit, which includes ideas for social media posts and emails to your network. Right click on graphics below to download and share on social media.

Instagram Graphics

         

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Download full toolkit here.

Use Your Voice and Vote

Why is a sustainability-focused nonprofit weighing in on the ballot measures up for a vote in 2018? Because our democracy, our environment, and our economy are at risk, and now is the time for us to stand up and fight for them.

In 2014, the last time we held a midterm in our country, only 36 percent of eligible American voters turned out to vote. That means 64 percent of voting Americans willingly silenced themselves. Look where that got us. Fortunately, since the 2016 election, a record number of women and minorities are running for office in 2018, hoping to change the demographics of our elected positions across the country. They cannot win with without your vote.

The health of our global, national, and local environments are at stake. President Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accords. We are the only country in the world to refuse to sign the accord that is designed to tackle climate change. Our storms are getting stronger, our global temperatures are rising, and our federal leadership is attempting to revive the failing coal industry. No one thinks coal is a solution for the future. Hurricane Florence illustrated this point perfectly. The hurricane crippled electricity and coal – but solar and wind were back online the next day. Fortunately, climate action didn’t stop when Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accords. Local and regional governments are taking the lead on greenhouse gas reductions, implementing ambitious and strategic emission reduction goals. Initiatives like Proposition 110 aim to increase our ability to manage more traffic on our roads while also providing low-emission transportation options like expanded public transportation and bike lanes.

Finally, let’s talk about our economy – our president’s plan to escalate economic protectionism, heightening political and trade tensions, and waning popular support for global economic integration all point toward a softening in the world economy after 2019. Businesses and our economy can be a force for good in the world, but in irresponsible hands, they can also undermine many environmental and democratic gains. Here in Colorado, we have one of the highest concentrations of B Corps (certified socially-responsible businesses) anywhere in the world. These companies are leading the way integrating profits, people, and the planet.

Back to the ballot measures up for a vote in Colorado in 2018. Many of these measures affect the future health of our environment, our economy, and our communities. Below is a brief description of a selection of ballot measures up for a vote this year as well as our stance on each of these measures. To learn about all of the 2018 ballot measures, please click here.

The good news – it is not too late to turn this ship around. Our democracy is only as strong as its citizens. It’s time to step up, raise your voice, and be counted.

Amendment Y – Independent Commission for Congressional Redistricting Amendment – Vote YES

Amendment Y establishes an independent commission for congressional redistricting in the state.

  • By voting yes, you support this amendment to create a 12-member commission responsible for approving district maps for Colorado’s congressional districts.
  • We think you should vote yes this amendment because a fair and democratic districting process (as opposed to gerrymandering) is a core component to our sustainable democracy.

Learn more

Amendment Z – Independent Commission for State Legislative Redistricting Amendment – Vote YES

Amendment Z establishes an independent commission for state legislative redistricting.

  • By voting yes, you support this amendment to create a 12-member commission responsible for approving district maps for Colorado’s state House of Representatives and state Senate districts; establish qualifying criteria for members and restrictions on prior or current elected officials, candidates or lobbyists being members; and enact requirements for district maps.
  • We think you should vote yes on this amendment because the goal of redistricting should be to draw districts that fairly represent the interests of the communities in our state. Districts should not be drawn to advantage incumbents or to favor a political party. We argue that the best way to accomplish this goal in Colorado is through an independent commission process that is transparent, accessible to, and inclusive of, Colorado citizens.

Learn more

Amendment 73 – Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative – Vote YES

Amendment 73 establishes income tax brackets and raises taxes for an education initiative.

  • By voting yes, you support the creation of a tax bracket system instead of a flat tax rate. Taxes would be raised for individuals making more than $150,000 per year, the corporate tax would also rise, and these taxes would go into the Quality Public Education Fund to fund public schools in Colorado.
  • We think you should vote yes on this amendment because it will raise $1.6 billion a year in additional revenue for Colorado’s public schools. Revenue will be deposited in the Quality Public Education Fund to increase the statewide base per-pupil funding for all students and increase spending for special education, preschool, English language proficiency, and gifted programs, among other things.

Learn more

Amendment 74 – Compensation to Owners for Decreased Property Value Due to State Regulation Initiative – Vote NO

Amendment 74 requires that property owners be compensated for any reduction in property value caused by state laws or regulations.

  • By voting no, you do not support a measure that would charge taxpayers to compensate private property owners for virtually any decrease in the fair market value of their property traceable to any government law or regulation. While expanding property rights may sound good, this measure is incredibly broad and would have sweeping negative implications on local governments and communities across the state.
  • We think you should vote no on this measure because under this amendment taxpayers would have to pay large corporations and special interests to have reasonable rules requiring clean water or clean air, properly zoning industrial activity, or any other regulation they think is beneficial for their neighborhoods or communities.

Learn more

Proposition 109 – “Fix Our Damn Roads” Transportation Bond Initiative- Vote NO

Proposition 109 authorizes bonds for transportation projects without raising taxes.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to authorize $3.5 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects including bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repairs, and require that the state repay the debt from the general fund without raising taxes.
  • We think you should vote no on this measure because it does not identify where these funds will come from out of the current tax base and has the potential to take money away from public schools and other public services paid for by state tax dollars.

Learn more

Proposition 110 – “Let’s Go Colorado” Transportation Bond and Sales Tax Increase Initiative – Vote YES

Proposition 110 authorizes bonds to pay for transportation projects and raises taxes to repay the debt

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund transportation projects, establish the Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes Citizen Oversight Committee, and raise the state sales tax rate by 0.62 percent from 2.9 percent (2018) to 3.52 percent for 20 years starting on January 1, 2019, through January 1, 2039.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because this it will provide a stable, on-going revenue source for transportation needs throughout the state and will reduce state-wide greenhouse gas reductions in the transportation sector through the inclusion of dedicated multimodal (walk, bike, public transit) dollars (the Multimodal Transportation Options Fund).

Learn more

Proposition 111 – Limits on Payday Loan Charges Initiative- Vote YES

Proposition 111 Restricts the charges on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to reduce the annual interest rate on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because payday lenders trap Coloradans in outrageously high-cost debt. Triple-digit rates and multiple fees strip millions of dollars annually from the pockets of people across the state. Voting yes on this measure provides basic guardrails for low income families from being preyed upon by predatory lenders.

Learn more

Proposition 112 – Minimum Distance Requirements for New Oil, Gas, and Fracking Projects Initiative- Vote YES

Proposition 112 Mandates that new oil and gas development projects, including fracking, be a minimum distance of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other areas designated as vulnerable.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to set new oil and gas development, including fracking operations, to be set at least 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, permanent sports fields, amphitheaters, public parks, public open space, public and community drinking water sources, irrigation canals, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, perennial or intermittent streams, and creeks, and any additional vulnerable areas designated by the state or a local government.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because it works toward safer neighborhoods, schools, and communities in Colorado. By setting oil and gas operations a safe distance away from these areas, we can reduce air pollution that affects some of our most vulnerable populations, especially children.

Learn more

Closing The Climate Gap

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The Climate Gap in Colorado

Many of us have heard about the big challenges climate change is bringing to Colorado. From forest fires to drought, and from extreme floods to abysmal snowpack, we’re beginning to see the fallout from climate change across the state. What we used to think of as tomorrow’s crisis is happening today. Underserved communities in our urban centers are being hit first and worst by the effects of climate change. The Climate Gap is the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color living in more polluted areas and the poor.

In Colorado, many people have been struggling to manage the challenges of climate change for decades. For example, the climate gap means that communities of color living in inequitable conditions and the poor are suffering more during extreme heat waves. We are already experiencing intensified heat waves in our urban centers due to rising temperatures and the heat island effect. The western United States has seen a larger increase in average temperature in the past decade than any other part of the country. The heat island effect describes urban areas that experience much higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas. Without access to air conditioning or cars to escape the heat, families living below the poverty line are at a much higher risk for mortality than others.

The climate gap also means that communities of color and the poor will breathe even dirtier air. Denver is notorious for our sub-par air quality, in fact we were just rated the 14th most polluted city in America for high ozone according to the American Lung Association. In fact, according to The Denver Business Journal the Denver zip code 80216 in north-east Denver is the most polluted zip code in the entire U.S. What does this mean for families living in Denver? The highest majorities of people of color and low-income residents are in some of the most polluted neighborhoods of Denver. These communities are projected to suffer from the largest increase in smog associated with climate change. More air pollution means more cases of asthma among children, more missed school days, more unpaid days for the caring parents, less income for families who already struggle to access reliable and affordable transportation, more missed hospital and health care appointments, and a host of other concerns that ripple outward as we link climate change to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Where America Stands

With Trump in the White House, America has pulled out of many of the national and international climate mitigation initiatives including the Paris Agreement. However, in the vacuum of federal leadership on climate, many local, state and regional governments have taken the lead on greenhouse gas reductions. Initiatives such as the U.S. Climate Alliance,  America’s Pledge and We Are Still In represent non-national actors that are committing to reduce emissions to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C. The organizations and individuals who have signed on to these initiatives represent $10.1 trillion in GDP from the United States alone.

In Colorado, Governor John Hicklenlooper recently announced a 2018 update to the Colorado Climate Plan. The state objective is to cut greenhouse gases by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, and to cut carbon from the electricity sector by 25 percent compared to 2012 by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030. The updated plan outlines advances in climate change management at the state level, as well as the progress that has been made since the release of the initial plan in 2015. Over the last three years, some examples of progress that has been made toward climate change mitigation in Colorado include joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, the adoption of the statewide electric vehicle plan, and the passing of the Denver Green Roof Initiative. The report also takes into account changes in both global and federal climate policy. In the updated Climate Plan, the authors recognize that “for communities with inequitable living conditions, such as low-income and communities of color living in more polluted areas, climate change is likely to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.”

So, there is some good news. Through strategic collaboration, individuals and organizations across the country are advancing climate change action despite federal-level barriers. In Colorado, our climate policies and plans are integrating environmental justice into the equation for climate change solutions. But there is still a long way to go.

Where You Come In: Climate + Equity

Governor Hickenlooper and his senior staff will be visiting The Alliance Center on June 14 to discuss the updated Colorado Climate Plan and how we can meet Colorado’s state goal with actions at all levels – personal, community, and government. The event is sold out, but it will be live-streamed here.

Here at The Alliance Center, we intentionally integrate equity into all aspects of our work. We believe that a climate change solution that is not founded on environmental justice is not a solution at all. Integrating equity into each aspect of our work takes dedication, clarity, and a lot of help. In 2018 we are creating new educational and collaborative initiatives that feature equity at their core.

Our Climate + Series connects climate change to everyday issues that people can relate to such as health or housing and gives them tools to take action. At all of our Alliance Center-led events we are offering free translation services as well as limited transportation for members of underserved communities who want to participate in our events but would not be able to do so if transportation services were not provided.

As we bring people together to create sustainable solutions, we are working to break down the barriers to participation for members of underserved communities. Climate change is affecting each of us, and no community should have to carry the burden of these challenges more than another. With your help, we can scale up our impact and create solutions that honor each other and the planet.

Partner Post: Re:Vision

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The Alliance Center is proud to partner with organizations like Re:Vision to create a better future for all. As we prepare to break ground on our own sustainable urban garden next month, we are thrilled to share Re:Vision’s story of the incredible, life-changing impact urban gardens can have on communities.

 

At Re:Vision we believe access to healthy food is a right, not a privilege. Whether through teaching families to grow their own food with our Re:Farm program, or beginning to plant the seeds of community-owned wealth at the Westwood Food Co-Op with Re:Own, our purpose is to create a thriving, resilient community. We achieve that using a three main strategies; we cultivate community food systems (Re:Farm), develop local leaders with our Promotoras (Re:Unite), and grow community wealth by creating a locally owned economy (Re:Own). We believe by providing residents with tools, training, and inspiration, the community will come together to solve some of their most pressing issues.

In 2009, Re:Vision started working in the Westwood neighborhood of southwest Denver. Westwood is bordered by Federal to the east, Sheridan to the west, Alameda to the north and Jewell to the south. You might know the area for its amazing taquerias and Vietnamese food. What you might not know, is Westwood faces significant health and economic disparities because of decades of underinvestment and inadequate resources; 37% childhood obesity rate (compared to the state average of 27%), and while Westwood has the most residents under the age of 18, it also has the fewest open spaces and parks in Denver. The average household income is less than half the Denver average, and less than 4% of the population has a college degree. There are no supermarkets, schools are overcrowded, and it is dangerous for youth to walk through the neighborhood. Yet, despite decades of neglect, Westwood is one of Denver’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, where 84% of residents are Latino, and approximately 60% of whom are first generation immigrants.

So, with all of these alarming statistics, why focus on food access and sustainability? Because that’s what the community wanted. When we spoke with residents, they mentioned a desire to be able to grow their own food as not only a means to save money on their grocery bills and improve access to and consumption of healthy foods, but also as a way to reconnect with the land. Many of our community members have agricultural backgrounds, and had to give those up in Denver’s more urban setting. They also gave up traditional ways of cooking because fresh produce, like chiles, and various herbs needed to cook certain dishes weren’t accessible, due to their price or actual availability. When budgets are limited, often times families are forced to make a choice between purchasing foods that will go a long way (think processed and shelf-stable foods) and produce. With the Re:Farm program, families don’t have to make that choice. Their gardens yield enough produce to feed the family and often times their neighbors as well. And if they have excess produce, they can take a variety of classes at our educational kitchen, La Cocina, to learn new culturally relevant farm-to-table recipes, or how to can and preserve so they can enjoy their produce year round. Families who participate in the Re:Farm program report continuing to eat more fruits and vegetables even in the off season.

What began with teaching seven families how to grow food in their own backyards, is now a thriving program changing food access in one community. To date, Re:Vision’s Re:Farm program has helped families throughout southwest Denver establish 1,765 annual gardens, collectively producing more than 500,000 pounds of fresh produce and saving those families over $1 million in grocery bills. In this current 2018 season, we have just over 260 families participating in the Re:Farm program.

 

Written by JoAnna Cintron, Re:Vision Director of Communications and Individual Giving

Announcing our new Executive Director

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The Alliance Center is thrilled to announce Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, former Director of Programs, as our new Executive Director! Read more about the exciting transition in a letter from Brenna below.

Dear Friends,

Sustainability to me is more than a buzzword. It is not just recycling or installing LED lights. It is a set of values. It’s a lifestyle, one that honors the connectedness, finds balance, and strives for harmony in all systems — living and human generated.

The Alliance Center is sustainability in action. It is my great honor to step into the role of Executive Director and work with the amazing team who have been my close colleagues for the past three years to help create a truly sustainable and inclusive future. A future that works for all.

I joined The Alliance Center in 2015 after a very intentional career change. I had been working at the Brown Palace Hotel heading up their sustainability initiatives and wanted to find a place where I could have a deeper impact; where I could live and breathe sustainability — nothing less. After a ten-year career in the hospitality industry creating and leading sustainability programs for some of the premier hotel brands at the corporate and property level, I made a dramatic change in my professional life. I made it my mission to join the organization that is central to the sustainability movement in Colorado.

It is an honor beyond words to be working with our passionate and dedicated team and board, and collaborating with our extremely high-caliber tenants and partners. I feel a natural high every time I walk into The Alliance Center, and I can feel the energy seeped in passion, action and impact. To me, The Alliance Center is the most inspirational organization, housed in the most innovative building in Colorado. We are LEED V4.1 Platinum certified and are working to change the paradigm for how buildings interact with our energy grid, while driving collaborative solutions in our economy, our environment and our communities.

Over the last few years we have intentionally taken the time to clearly define our vision and the impact we want to make in the world, and we have developed a comprehensive strategy to achieve our lofty goals. We are now ready to implement our plan and help create a world where our communities are inclusive, our democracy is strong, our economy thrives, and our planet is healthy. 

The challenges we face today are existential and threaten our very survival. We simply do not have time for petty squabbles, partisan politics, tribalistic narratives, or 20th century band-aid solutions. Now is the time when we must come together in deep solidarity to co-create solutions for the 21st century and beyond.

I am elated to lead an organization that will play a mighty role in this paradigm shift. I personally invite you to join us on this journey. It will take each and every one of us, working together, to create the world we are proud to pass along to our children and grandchildren.

From the front lines of the sustainability movement, and with my deepest gratitude,

Brenna Simmons-St. Onge

3 Reasons Why You Should Vote

Check out our three reasons why you should vote in the Colorado Primary election – and how to do it!

Why Are We Talking About This?

Why is a sustainability-focused non-profit writing about and working on civic engagement? Because a strong democracy is a core piece of our sustainable future.

There are three tiers of holistic sustainability – our environment, our economy, and our communities. The health and diversity of our communities are often over-looked and under-appreciated pieces of the sustainability movement. Without strong and informed civic engagement, our democracy falters and our voices are lost amid the chaos of the 24-hour news cycle, political propaganda, and the grind of our everyday lives.

While the 2008 presidential elections boasted the highest U.S. turnout since the 1968 elections, more than 4 in 10 Americans aged 18 or older still stayed home. The latest presidential election had a similar overall turnout, but the number of voters between the ages of 18-29 dropped from over 50% in 2008 to just over 46% in 2016. Why does this matter? Because younger generations are silencing their voices by not turning out to the polls.

Most people know that they should vote in the presidential elections – but what about elections in the years when we are not choosing our commander-in-chief? In 2018 we have the potential to dramatically change the political make-up of Colorado. A major piece of that puzzle is voting in the primary elections. Primary elections (or “the primaries”) are elections that determine who is on the ballot for our votes in November.

Why You Should Vote

Here are three reasons why you should vote in the primaries in CO this Spring:

1.Voting in the primaries makes our democracy more representative.

This is the first (ever) primary election where unaffiliated voters can participate in Colorado. There are more unaffiliated voters in CO than democrats or republicans. If unaffiliated voters make their voice heard this year they actually have more sway than either of the entrenched political parties. Even though Colorado is a ‘blue state’ in many of our political leanings (ahem legalized marijuana) overall the state is solidly purple. The voting power of unaffiliated voters in Colorado significantly determines how the state leans. In other words we are approximately 1/3 republicans, 1/3 democrats and 1/3 unaffiliated voters in Colorado. The candidates that win elected office in Colorado are the ones that can win-over the unaffiliated voters and this is the first time they can vote to determine who makes the final ballot in November, 2018.

The primaries are your REAL chance to put your vote toward the candidate that shares your values, and prioritizes your issues. If you don’t participate in the primaries you don’t have a say in who makes the final ballot and ultimately is elected to office.

2. Generations of Americans struggled to win the right to vote.

Today, many people may take their right to vote for granted, but it wasn’t truly that long ago when entire swaths of the population ― like women ― were denied that right. Native Americans, African Americans, Asians and Latinos still face discrimination today (cite).

3. Voting Gives You a Voice

Voting is an important, meaningful way to give a voice to the issues you care about ― and the representatives you vote into office can create the changes you want to see. In the 2018 elections we have the following offices up for election at the state level: Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, US House/Senate and State House/Senate. Your vote is a license to justifiably complain about your elected officials. Your grievances will carry more weight if you speak out as a voter trying to hold your candidates accountable for promises they made.

When You Can Vote + How

We know that voting and civic engagement in general can be overwhelming, which is why we want to share the best tools for making your voice heard. Below you can find a timeline of steps for voting in the 2018 primary elections in CO – big thanks to our friends at Just Vote Colorado* for this information. If you want to find out more about the voting process or if you have other questions, please visit their website.

If you are new to the state or have not voted before, you can register to vote by following this link.

June 4th – Ballots are sent out via mail.

**If you are unaffiliated you will receive a republican and a democratic ballot and you will have to choose which party to affiliate with. Unaffiliated voters may only vote and return ONE BALLOT! If you vote any or all races on more than one ballot, none of your votes will be counted. To find your nearest dropbox where you can return your ballot, visit www.justvotecolorado.org or return your ballot by mail.

June 19th – Voter Services and Polling Centers open their doors, this is also the LAST DAY to return your ballot by mail.

June 26th – The polling period for the primary elections closes.

What Else You Can Do

*Just Vote! Colorado Election Protection is a non-partisan voter assistance program and is not affiliated with or promoting any party, candidate or ballot issue. Just Vote is not affiliated with or responsible for the content of this piece.

The Alliance Center’s Rebrand

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Nonprofits come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing they share in common is a desire to scale up their impact on the world. Collaboration has long been touted as the best way for nonprofits to scale up, but the actual practice of collaboration is often messy, making it hard to measure the impacts of these efforts.

At The Alliance Center in Denver, CO, over 50 nonprofit and for-profit organizations work under one roof. We are a mission-driven nonprofit with an event and collaborative working space which is dedicated to bringing people together to create a sustainable and inclusive future. As the operator of a collaborative working space, we strive to create a work environment that is inspiring, inviting, and that promotes constructive interactions between tenants.

The Alliance Center recently underwent a brand realignment process to reconnect with our mission. As part of this process, we changed the name of the organization from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado to The Alliance Center. For many years, the building that houses the collaborative working spaces was named The Alliance Center while the nonprofit organization that managed the building and created programming was called the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. This caused considerable confusion. While we are excited to have one name for all aspects of our work, changing our name to The Alliance Center is about a lot more than simplifying our moniker.

The Alliance Center is the space where people come together to build the sustainability movement. We are honored to have a wide range of for-profit and nonprofit tenants in the building who are working on a variety of different sustainability-focused initiatives. While our mission has always been to create a sustainable future, for the past few years, we have focused primarily on own initiatives rather than on helping to grow our community of tenants, supporters and friends. Our rebranding is designed to change that.

How are we changing our brand? First and foremost, our focus is on our community and on scaling up the impact of the sustainability movement. We have begun to implement new tenant-centered programming such as our Expertise Exchange lunches where our tenants can share their knowledge about fundraising, communications, technology and many other topics. We are also working more closely with our tenants to create shared programming which will focus on the three tiers of sustainability: our environment, our economy, and our communities. Strengthening and diversifying our relationships with our tenants is at the core of our updated brand strategy.

Our community also extends beyond the walls of The Alliance Center. We will be rolling out a membership program in 2018 that is designed to grow the sustainability movement and to give individuals and organizations tangible ways to live, work, and play more sustainably. Members will have access to networking opportunities with the giants of sustainability, discounts at our café, first looks into upcoming sustainability-focused events and much more.

Why are we doing this? Because we believe that we can make a bigger impact with a stronger, more connected, and more inspired community. We will be tracking the impacts of our new initiatives through tenant and supporter-focused outreach, through social media hashtags such as #AllianceforAction, and through our tangible metrics related to waste diversion, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and much more.

Enjoy looking around our new site, and we can’t wait to share more of our new initiatives with you in the future.