The 2022 Cox Conserves Heroes Winners
Shirley Nichols of Atlanta, Ga. and Madhvi Chittoor of Arvada, Colo. are the 2022 Cox Conserves Heroes winners, along with South Florida nonprofit organization, Youth Environment Alliance (YEA). Celebrating its 14th year, Cox Conserves Heroes is part of Cox Enterprises' national sustainability initiative, designed to recognize youth and adult volunteers, plus nonprofits, making a positive impact on our environment.
Driving positive environmental change — both within the company and the communities it serves — is core to Cox's business operations and culture. Cox's sustainability goals are to send zero waste to landfill by 2024 and to be carbon and water neutral by 2034. Nichols and Chittoor's nonprofits, as well as YEA, each earned $30,000 from the James M. Cox Foundation to continue growing the good in their communities.
Nichols and her Park Pride nonprofit was awarded the Groundbreaker Award for leading the fight to preserve her Atlanta community, South River Gardens, as a dedicated advocate for parks, waterways, and greenspaces. Situated near Atlanta's airport, South River Gardens is a largely residential community with vast tracks of forested land surrounded by industrial land uses. In addition to holding neighborhood planning and garden association leadership roles in her community, Nichols led the fight to preserve the Lake Charlotte Forest Preserve in her neighborhood when it was at risk of becoming a landfill or sold for industrial use.
Eleven-year-old Chittoor was recognized with the Planet Protector Award for her dedication to improving the planet, spending summer vacations, weekends and after-school time advocating for conservation. In addition to founding Madhvi4EcoEthics, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit at age six, Chittoor worked with her state government to declare April as Plastic and Styrofoam Pollution Awareness Month in Colorado. She also led the charge within her school district to switch from non-biodegradable Styrofoam trays to compostable ones, keeping 20 million Styrofoam containers from the landfill to date.
"This award money will be used as a seed toward water conservation projects," said Chittoor, as she received her award from Cox Enterprises Chairman and CEO Alex Taylor. "It aligns well with Cox's goal too."
The Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) was awarded the inaugural Jim Kennedy Conservation Award, named in honor of Chairman Emeritus and James M. Cox Foundation Chairman Jim Kennedy. Based in North Lauderdale, Fla., the nonprofit focuses on reducing carbon/energy, water, and waste in its community. With more than 19,000 people annually joining more than 30 hands-on, exciting environmental classes that empower children and adults with the knowledge and tools needed to decrease their carbon footprint, conserve water, limit waste and reduce their impacts on the community.
Second- and third-place winners in each category received $15,000 and $5,000 respectively for their nonprofits. Those were:
Second place: Ryan Hickman/Project 3R, California
Third place: Myroslava Fisun/EarthEcho, California
Second place: Julia Chambers/AFFEW Friends for the Environment, Michigan
Third place: Freeda Cathcart/Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and its Educational Foundation, Virginia
Second Place: We Are Neutral, Florida
Third Place: Arizona Sustainability Alliance, Arizona
"Congratulations to our 2022 Cox Conserves Heroes winners. It's inspiring to see individuals and organizations committed to improving their communities and making a positive impact on the environment," said Maury Wolfe, vice president of corporate responsibility and social impact, Cox Enterprises. "Not only are Shirley, Madhvi and YEA making real and measurable differences, they're also inspiring others to take action and get involved, which is how we continue to progress and ultimately reach our sustainability goals."
Since 2008, Cox has honored more than 200 volunteers across the nation who have helped make a significant impact on sustainability and environmental protection in our communities. The James M. Cox Foundation has donated more than $1.5 million to environmental nonprofits on behalf of the Cox Conserves Heroes program.
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