Partner Spotlight: Ned Andree and Community Collaboration on Climate Change

Partner Spotlight: Ned Andree and Community Collaboration on Climate Change

In celebration of Black History Month, Michigan LCV is spotlighting Black leaders in Michigan working toward positive change on important issues relating to drinking water, voting rights, climate action, and more. 

Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4) Project Coordinator Ned Andree.

For this week’s Partner Spotlight, we spoke with Ned Andree from the Community Collaboration on Climate Change (known as ‘the C4’), an incredible people-driven organization working to advance climate change justice and environmental justice education, advocacy, and action across Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in Grand Rapids. 

Ned has served as the C4’s project coordinator since December 2021, but the origins of the organization can be traced back to 2005 when the City of Grand Rapids created the Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP) in collaboration with Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids Public Schools, and Grand Valley State University. The CSP was established to help transform and develop sustainable organizations, neighborhoods, and communities through local collaboration and resources. But as environmental injustices have continued, the need for something more became apparent – especially in recent years. 

As the climate crisis accelerates and impacts us all, BIPOC communities are being disproportionately impacted while experiencing the most climate and environmental injustices. But BIPOC communities do not have a seat at the table or representation within the movement focused on climate action or solutions. These facts were underscored by a 2019 University of Michigan study that informed the CSP and Grand Rapids community leaders and environmental justice advocates about the need for a community-led organization. In September 2021, after two years of meetings and collaboration, the C4 Leadership Team launched. 

Since contracting as the Project Coordinator with the C4, Ned has been instrumental in helping get the organization off the ground. In his role, Ned has helped to bring the C4’s work to life and engage “ordinary Grand Rapidians” from marginalized communities to lead on projects that make a local impact while helping people understand the intersections between our everyday lives and the climate. 

“Our work is centered on helping people connect the climate change impacts they are experiencing in their communities to the climate crisis and find local ways to take action. Recognizing that people who do the least to accelerate climate change are impacted the most by climate change, and do not have a seat at the table in the conversations around solutions, the C4 is helping fill that gap by empowering people to start doing work on the local level that will make a difference in those communities.” 

Thanks to leaders like Ned, the C4’s impact is being felt across Grand Rapids. Through the organization’s Climate Change Justice Program, Ned has helped build a team of 14 community ambassadors across the city and the C4 has regranted funds to the team to empower hyper-local climate work and create change in their communities. 

Dee Jones at The Four Star Theater!

One example of the projects is led by Dee Jones, who saw an opportunity to bring more young people into climate conversations by hosting e-sports and video game competitions that include a forum for climate conversations. Another project is a community gardening initiative led by ambassador Abby Carlson, which grows and sells local food and produce with a focus on Michigan native plants to empower the community. 

Michigan native species garden project led by C4 Ambassador Abby Carlson at a communal living house in Heritage Hill in its early stages. The Michigan native plants were purchased from Plaster Creek Stewards. 

Yet another is an incredible ‘pocket forest’ that was started at Boston Square Church which will add groundcover, bush, and mid-canopy trees native to Michigan to an already-grown stand of oak trees to help sequester carbon, cultivate a strong native ecosystem in an urban setting, and build a stronger, healthier community for frontline residents. 

C4 community ambassadors discussing the Boston Square Church pocket forest project.

The emphasis on climate justice education is clear throughout Ned’s work with the C4 and the local projects the organization supports. Each project is organized to draw adjacent community members into collaboration on the projects, to give community members a sense of ownership of the solutions. By supporting members of the community to lead hyper-local climate action projects, the C4 is helping empower the communities most impacted by the climate crisis to learn and grow together. 

The work the C4 has done so far is just the tip of the iceberg. As part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in 2022, the Biden administration launched the Justice40 Initiative – an environmental justice initiative that will ensure at least 40% of federal funding for climate and environmental justice benefits frontline, BIPOC communities most historically marginalized and disproportionately impacted by environmental and climate injustices. With Justice40 as a framework, Ned and the C4 are pushing forward with a focus on continued community and partnership building to maximize their impact. 

The C4 and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks plan to put $5 million from the U.S. Forestry Service to work, planting trees in historically redlined neighborhoods.

Outside of hyper-focused projects with the community ambassador team, Ned is excited about the C4’s partnership with Just Air Solutions – an air quality monitoring project that connects residents to air quality data on their smartphones to educate and protect public health. The Green Lining Institute – which focuses on solutions to “redlining” – also awarded the C4 with their $200,000 “Green Lining the Block” grant to build an electric vehicle rideshare program and community center in Grand Rapids that will serve as a “resilience hub” complete with charging stations. The C4 is also collaborating with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, which secured a $5 million grant from the U.S. Forestry Service to plant 5,000 trees in historically redlined neighborhoods – the trees will create a canopy that can help reduce surface temperatures by as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit, which will protect health and save residents money on their energy bills!

Through these projects and partnerships, the C4 is making meaningful impacts and creating change across Grand Rapids communities – and Ned is helping lead the way. 

To learn more about Ned’s work and Community Collaboration on Climate Change, please visit their website at

Join The Movement

Get exclusive, real-time updates about environmental action in Lansing — PLUS ways you can take action straight to your inbox.

Join the movement to protect the Great Lakes state

And we’ll show you two ways to help. Together, we can be a voice for change and protect Michigan’s land, air, water, public health, and democracy.