Sustainable South Bronx wins EPA award

Sustainable South Bronx, the nonprofit environmental justice organization, has been honored with the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 Region 2 Environmental Quality Award. The award recognizes organizations that have made contributions to public health.

Miquela Craytor, the organization’s executive director, said the award is a deep honor. “It’s really reflective of not just the work we’ve been doing, but in general of the strategy of sustainability, and how important that is.”

Sustainable South Bronx has had a number of noteworthy programs over the past year, but Craytor points specifically to on-the-ground projects like the South Bronx Greenway as a decisive factor in earning them this accolade from the EPA. “The Greenway is one of our key projects we’ve worked on since our founding in 2001,” said Craytor. “When it’s fully complete it will be 11 miles long, and essentially a green necklace connecting Port Morris and the ball fields on Randall’s Island. It’s trees, bike paths, destination points, and parks.” The first piece of the Greenway was Hunts Point Riverside Park, which was opened in 2004 and was the first new riverside park in 60 years.

SSBx has also worked recently to connect their green efforts to their job training program, in an effort to lead individuals toward jobs in park maintenance, landscaping, and horticulture.

“Most of the folks who go through our training program are struggling and have been unemployed for a while or incarcerated,” said Craytor. “But after learning about using sustainability to revitalize their neighborhood, they really get it. People in the community are thinking about these issues now, and soon everyone else will get it, too.”

Annette Williams is the director of BEST (Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training) Academy, which runs the job training program that places indivudals into “green collar” jobs. “Our job training efforts definitely helped us win this award,” she speculated. Each year about 120 people go through their training programs, and 80% end up with solid, full-time work as a result.

It was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who brought SSBx to the EPA’s attention for this award. In a letter to Sustainable South Bronx after the EPA announced the award, Sen. Gillibrand wrote that the group “deserves this honor for the great work they do in making a difference on environmental issues that benefit so many New Yorkers.”

The award was formally presented to Miquela Craytor in a special ceremony at the EPA Regional Headquarters in Manhattan this past Friday, April 23.

Reach Daniel Roberts at (718) 742-3383 or

More from Around NYC