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Helmsley Charitable Trust Invests in Plant With Purpose's Unique Empowerment Program to Reverse Rural Poverty

December 8, 2021

Helmsley Charitable Trust Invests in Plant With Purpose's Unique Empowerment Program to Reverse Rural Poverty

SAN DIEGO, CA., – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has committed $1,564,360 to Plant With Purpose, a leading Christian environmental organization, to provide key funding in an effort to help reverse rural poverty in three watersheds in the Amhara region of Ethiopia over the next three years. This grant builds on funding from 2018 when Helmsley helped launch the tree-planting partnership in the Amhara region to sustainably improve livelihoods, food security, and economic resilience.

Since then, Plant With Purpose Ethiopia has planted over 500,000 trees, organized 48 savings groups, and engaged 947 participating families across 91 communities.

“We are excited to scale up a model we know works to help more people grow out of poverty, heal land, and reach more families,” said Plant With Purpose Grants & Sustainable Systems Manager, Heather Miller. “And we now have the foundation for more resources that will increase resilience and break cycles of rural poverty for 117,000 lives in Andabet, Ethiopia through watershed transformation.”

Plant With Purpose’s programs utilize a three-pillar evidence-based approach of environmental regeneration; economic empowerment; and agency and stewardship. Equipped with locally conscious agricultural methodology, communities restore and protect watersheds in a sustainable manner which delivers measurable positive change based on key poverty and environmental indicators for direct and indirect participants. The watershed model scales impact exponentially as neighbors influence neighbors and experience regional transformation.

“Based on the outcomes of our work in the Ziragn watershed during our 3-year pilot, we have been invited by community leaders to expand our work into neighboring watersheds and serve tens of thousands more people,” said Scott Sabin, CEO of Plant With Purpose. “We are excited to be reducing poverty in the area and honored to be working closely with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to preserve and expand their historic church forests.”

“Helmsley is committed to building community resilience through local leadership to create lasting changes,” said Trista Kontz-Bartels, Program Director at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Our continued support to Plant With Purpose fully aligns with this goal. We are inspired by the multiple layers of impact that Plant With Purpose fosters in remote communities, and this additional investment in programs across Andabet, Ethiopia will enable further growth of a proven approach that increases incomes; improves the land, stewardship, and crop yields; and strengthens ties among people.”

In partnership with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, community members, and local schools, Plant With Purpose will continue to encourage reforestation and forest stewardship efforts in communities, expanding the biodiversity-rich ‘church forests’ and planting 3.4 million trees. Through farmer training schools and school programs, participants learn how to be effective leaders in conservation and regenerative farming while increasing food and financial security. This collaboration with local institutions enables already established communities to build relationships around mutual flourishing and lean on one another to see needs met.

The past three years in Ethiopia have also informed a new educational emphasis on gender inclusivity that will be included in training going forward. Globally, two out of three Plant With Purpose participants are women, and the Ethiopian program hopes to encourage this same participation within farming families.

About Plant With Purpose
Plant With Purpose a leading Christian environmental organization. Founded in 1984, Plant With Purpose operates at the nexus of poverty alleviation and environmental restoration.

Through years of holistic, community-led innovation, Plant With Purpose provides local leadership in global communities to equip families to reverse the structural and environmental root causes of rural poverty. This model transforms entire watersheds by integrating reforestation, regenerative agriculture, savings group activities, and environmental restoration. Since 1984 Plant With Purpose has planted more than 40 million trees globally and over the next 4 years will plant 50 million more. For more information, visit

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes.

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