River Voices: July 2024

Welcome to the July 2024 edition of River Voices. This month, we are highlighting the River Rally 2024 panel, Navigating Federal Funding for Local Impact, and more resources to help organizations access and leverage this historic opportunity.

Federal Funding at River Rally

A central theme of River Rally 2024 was the historic federal funding opportunities available to water advocates through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These funds are a game-changer for communities seeking to implement new water projects, but navigating the funding process can be complex.

The panel “Navigating Federal Funding” provided a deep dive on how organizations can access and leverage these resources effectively. Led by Travis Loop (waterloop) and featuring panelists Celina Mahabir (Community Water Center) and Kirsten Shead (Milwaukee Water Commons), the conversation at River Rally explored the intricacies of federal funding, sharing challenges and practical advice.

“I’m glad that there’s an effort [to disburse funding], but the urgency and the pressure is real. For a lot of frontline communities and smaller nonprofits, how are we going to disrupt the fact that the system is not built to be equitable? A lot of us are seeing this as an opportunity to shift the system and make sure that we don’t come to the end of this historic investment and see the disparity of who really benefited.”


– Kirsten Shead, Co-Executive Director of Milwaukee Water Commons


“It’s essential that all diverse applicants are informed about and have equal access to USDA funding. Promoting EDI not only fosters fairness and inclusivity but also enhances the effectiveness and impact of our grant management efforts across communities.”

Join us in welcoming Rakeem, who manages River Network’s work as a National Pass-Through Partner for USDA/USFS’s Urban & Community Forestry program.

Meet Rakeem.

River Rally 2024

Explore recordings and photos to relive the joy and learning of River Rally 2024.

This year, 414 of you came together for a whirlwind of energy and inspiration. From impactful sessions to joyful outdoor celebrations, this local spirit permeated every moment, leaving attendees empowered, connected, and reinvigorated to tackle the work ahead.

Get the recap.


“For many of our residents, they want to talk to us. Milwaukee Water Commons has really built the trust to do what we say and say what we do. We’re not going to come in and tell them, ‘You need a tree. No, it’s, ‘Would you like a tree?'”

Watch the first live Meet Your Network interview with Felice Green, Director of Programming at Milwaukee Water Commons, recorded in the Story Lounge at River Rally.

Meet Felice.

Say What? Effectively Communicating Climate Facts and Policy in the U.S.

July 24, at 10a PT / 1p ET

Climate XChange will host a panel of expert climate communicators to dive into the latest research on public views around climate change and policy, alongside best practices on communicating across communities, policymakers, researchers, and more.

Upcoming Online Workshops: Organizing Skills Institute


The Organizing Skills Institute by Training for Change is a training and resource hub for social justice organizers. Upcoming trainings include One-on-One Organizing Conversations: Steps & Practice, One-on-One Organizing Conversations: Between the Steps, and Designing Better Meetings for Base-Building.

Explore organizer trainings.

State Policy Showcase: Reducing Lead in Schools’ Drinking Water

Recorded on May 22, 2024

Alexandra Simon (Public Health Advocate with CoPIRG) and Cyndi Roper, (Natural Resources Defense Council) discuss policies in Colorado and Michigan designed to help protect children from lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilities.

Watch the recording.

Member News & Tips

Member Spotlight: A Community Rain Garden is Installed in the Plaster Creek Watershed

Plaster Creek Stewards, through Kresge Foundation funding, just wrapped the first cohort of the Project GreenER program. This free, eight-session adult educational program is intended to foster understanding of and build agency for watershed care. Two graduates recently installed their capstone project: a community rain garden. Watch local news coverage of the installation!

Stay Connected through River Network’s Peer Groups

River Network’s peer groups offer a unique opportunity to connect with other advocates who share your objectives and challenges. Join groups like the Drinking Water Access Exchange, Nutrient Reduction Forum, Leaders of Color Network, and more to exchange knowledge, resources, and ideas, and build a stronger network together. Explore peer groups.

What We’re Reading

  • 📖 Climate Action for Busy People by Cate Mingoya-LaFortune (Groundwork USA) is is a hopeful and realistic roadmap for individuals and groups who want to boost climate preparedness and move the needle towards environmental justice. Use the code BUSY for a 20% discount!
  • 📖 The Great River: The Making and Unmaking of the Mississippi: Boyce Upholt delivers a startling account of what happens when we try to fight against nature instead of acknowledging and embracing its power.