Salazar Center announces Thriving Cities Challenge finalists, expanded funding support

photo of people from above sitting at a small city park green

The Thriving Cities Challenge was created to fund innovative nature-based solutions that improve the equity, health and resilience of urban communities in North America.

Thriving Cities Challenge logoFifteen teams from across North America have been selected as finalists for the Thriving Cities Challenge, an incentive prize launched by Colorado State University’s Salazar Center for North American Conservation in Fall 2020. Up to five teams will be chosen as winners following a virtual pitch event in September 2021 as part of the Center’s third annual symposium.

“We’re excited to have such a strong group of finalists focused on innovative work in cities all over North America,” said Salazar Center Director Beth Conover. “We look forward to building a community of interest focused on urban climate resilience, green space and racial equity.”

The Thriving Cities Challenge is the Center’s second annual Conservation Impact Prize and was created to fund innovative nature-based solutions that improve the equity, health and resilience of urban communities in North America.

New to this year’s challenge, each finalist team will receive a $10,000 capacity-building grant this summer, along with training and mentorship opportunities to help strengthen and further develop proposed projects.

Increased funding support for teams

Following the pitch event next fall, winning teams will be selected based on the potential to advance climate resilience and racial equity and will be awarded $50,000 to $100,000 to implement their ideas.

Funding for the challenge has been provided by the VF Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, the Bullitt Foundation, the Blackstone Ranch Institute and an anonymous donor.

The 15 finalists were chosen from a pool of 52 applicants, whose work represents a range of community-led efforts across the United States and Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico, as well as several Tribal nations and Indigenous groups.

Proposals were reviewed and scored by a diverse committee of expert evaluators, drawn from leadership in philanthropy, academia and the nonprofit and for-profit worlds.


Learn more about the finalists on the Thriving Cities Challenge website.

The finalists’ pitch event in late September will also be open to the public. Check back soon for details and ticket information at

About the Salazar Center

The Salazar Center for North American Conservation at Colorado State University works to support and advance the health and connectivity of the natural systems and landscapes of North America—be they urban or rural; working or wildlands; public or private. The Center brings together thought leaders, resources, and diverse perspectives to inform an intersectional approach to conservation challenges, building bridges that connect academic research, community practice, and policy development. Learn more about the Center at