University of Richmond Students Receive Grant Support For Environmental Justice Project

August 26, 2021

Pictured above: UR students McKenna Dunbar and Indya Woodfolk provided Portmouth, Virginia residents with energy efficiency kits as part of a large project focused on environmental justice.

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — University of Richmond students McKenna Dunbar, a junior from Washington, D.C., and Indya Woodfolk, a senior from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant to support a project empowering minoritized peoples related to environmental justice.

Projects for Peace is an initiative supporting college students on grassroots projects that are designed to build peace.

Energy kitDunbar, who is pursuing degrees in environmental studies and business administration with a concentration in international business, and Woodfolk, who is double majoring in environmental studies and anthropology, completed their project in Portsmouth, Virginia, where they conducted energy audits for more than 35 families to educate them about their energy costs.

They also provided those residents with energy efficiency kits, which included light bulbs, water efficient shower heads, solar-powered path lights, reusable bags, weather stripping, and more.

Dunbar and Woodfolk also hosted a three-week environmental education program for high school students in that area with a focus on environmental justice and equipping the youth with tools to recognize and advocate against instances of injustice.

“Energy burdens, especially in an economically disadvantaged and marginalized locality, are an imperative reminder for policy makers and government organizations alike,” said Woodfolk. “This project was so meaningful to me because I was able to work with people who look like me, or reminded me of family, and I gave them something substantial — the knowledge and tools to advocate for themselves,” said Woodfolk.

"Now more than ever, it is important to not only lead the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy but to also unite communities under a common goal,” said Dunbar. “In getting to know the locals of this area and talking with them about the economic disparities they experience, I absorbed the powerful testimonies of hope for improved environmental infrastructures for their children to play, their neighbors to garden, and for all civilians to have a closer and healthier relationship with the natural environment around them.”

Dunbar and Woodfolk are now working on a documentary about their work.