Center for Environment at Catawba College Receives Reynolds Grant

01/07/04 by Staff Writer

The Catawba College Center for the Environment has received a $20,000 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to spearhead a Clean Air Initiative for Rowan and the Central Piedmont.

The three-year grant will support the educational outreach component of the project, which is designed to educate the public about air pollution and foster programs to mitigate that pollution. The Center’s aim is to act as a catalyst in efforts to address the problem.

The Center will host a Clean Air Lecture Series, beginning Jan. 27 with a presentation by Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory. It will also orchestrate an Air Quality Conference later in the year as well as provide speeches to community groups and offer informational material to regional media.

The project was prompted by the American Lung Association’s 2003 report which listed Rowan as the 16th worst county in the nation for air quality.

The subsequent news that the Environmental Protection Agency would list Rowan, as well as many other counties in the Central Piedmont, as a non-attainment area, sealed the Center’s resolve to act on the issue, according to Dr. John Wear Jr., the Center’s director.

“This is a serious problem,” says Wear. “The health of our children and grandchildren is at stake. The health of our economy will also be affected if we don’t act now to clean up our air.”

The Center will work in concert with the Rowan Sustainable Community Development Commission as well as regional air quality organizations to foster strategies to lessen pollution.

“Since the inception of the Center for the Environment, we have believed, as Margaret Mead once said, that ‘a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world,’” Wear says.

“If we change our behaviors, both corporately and individually, we can and will improve the quality of our air. We are grateful to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for the confidence the trustees have shown in our commitment to this initiative. Their generosity will propel us forward in this important effort.”

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation was established in 1936 as a memorial to the youngest son of the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. One of the initial trustees of the foundation was Z. Smith Reynolds’ uncle, William Neal Reynolds, who at his death in 1951 created a trust that now provides a portion of the foundation’s annual income.

In its history, the foundation has made grants totaling more than $349 million to recipients in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The foundation currently gives special attention to certain focus areas: community-building and economic development; the environment; governance, public policy and civic engagement; pre-collegiate education; and social justice and equity.

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