Connecting with Neighborhoods Using Tech and Relationships

The Arbor Day Foundation wants to plant in 90 percent of neighborhoods of greatest need

Relationships are the backbone of the Arbor Day Foundation’s work. Connections to local tree planting organizations across the country are a primary source of information about what individual neighborhoods want, and what they consider their biggest challenges. In fact, planting trees to meet a community’s unique goals is a baseline standard of environmental justice.

The Foundation has been the expert in building connections with local area knowledge in neighborhoods around the country for more than 50 years. And now, we’re unlocking an additional level of intelligence to guide our work.

Putting the right tree, in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason takes a lot of careful planning. To do it well, we now combine input from local communities with a rich set of data points revealing — down to the neighborhood block — which areas stand to benefit most from trees.

Through our partnership with NatureQuant, the Foundation can examine a given area’s income, education, and employment levels, housing quality, distance from greenspace, and more. It creates a sharper picture of neighborhoods that are more likely to experience poor health, urban heat islands, poor air quality, and low income. In other words, some of the most dangerous symptoms of urban inequity — many of which can be controlled with trees.

The Foundation strongly believes the future of tree planting takes:

  • Leveraging multiple data points beyond income level when choosing where to plant, taking other key socio-economic, environmental, and historical factors into consideration.
  • Partnering with local organizations made up of neighborhood residents to ensure tree plantings take place when, where, and how the immediate community members prefer.
  • Consulting with community leaders to determine what type of project (planting, distribution, community engagement, etc.) will best serve the area.

Relationships give us access to put shovels in the ground. And data give us the confidence we’re making the biggest impact possible when that day comes. To meet our goal of planting 500 million trees by 2027 — with activity in 90% of neighborhoods of greatest need — we have to proceed intelligently. And this is the way to do it. Learn more about our goal at

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