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Black Parents United Foundation to install air quality monitors throughout Aurora

Nonprofit to install air quality monitors throughout Aurora
Nonprofit to install air quality monitors throughout Aurora 03:00

Shere Walker-Ravenell's nonprofit Black Parents United Foundation is itching to get started on its latest project.

"As soon as we get the funding, we are ready to go," she said.

They will be installing air quality monitors throughout the city of Aurora. She says her concern is how close Aurora residents are to oil and gas extraction operations.


"You're surprised at how many wells are already up here," she said.

Their mission began with a playgroup. During the pandemic, Walker-Ravenell started a Facebook group so Aurora parents could arrange meetups for their kids.

Getting to know each other they realized asthma was a common illness among kids in the group, even though they had no family history of the disease. They wondered if air quality was contributing to their conditions, so the meetup group turned into a non-profit searching for answers.

"Our work right now is focused on air quality and childhood asthma right now in Aurora," said Walker-Ravenell.

Their first mission was trying to find out how clean or dirty Aurora's air is, but the data didn't exist.

"That is something that Aurora just doesn't have," Walker-Ravenell said.

Shere Walker-Ravenell, founder of the nonprofit Black Parents United Foundation. CBS

They decided to apply for a grant from the EPA 9 months ago to seek funding to install air quality monitors across the city so they could start gathering data themselves

"We've just been waiting all this time," said Walker-Ravenell.

Finally, on Nov. 3, they got the news that they had been granted nearly five hundred thousand dollars. It's enough to fulfill their mission.

"To have monitors to go around Aurora right now it's just going to just nail it," said Walker-Ravenell.

She says it's all about giving her community environmental equality, and she hopes her neighbors will pay attention.

"I just want to make sure that our community is awake and understand what's going on in the community," said Walker-Ravenell.

Black Parents United Foundation isn't the only Colorado group that was granted money to monitor air quality. Below is a complete list of organizations that will be receiving funding:

  • San Juan Basin Public Health ($312,500) – Deployment of particulate matter (PM), ozone, and volatile organic compound (VOC) monitors in underserved neighborhoods in Archuleta, La Plata, and San Juan Counties, including the development of a Community Checkout Program to make mobile PM sensors available for community use.
  • City of Fort Collins ($499,139) – VOC and air toxics monitoring at locations near oil and gas development in Larimer and western Weld Counties through use of stationary monitors and a mobile plume-tracker vehicle.
  • 350 Colorado ($498,537) – Implementation of an air quality monitoring program for VOCs, ozone, methane and particulate matter near two public schools in Greeley with nearby oil and gas operations.
  • Cultivando ($500,000) - Operation of a continuous monitoring station and deployment of a mobile air monitoring van to identify and quantify air toxics in the Commerce City, Globeville, and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods, which are communities disproportionately impacted by pollution.
  • Jefferson County ($225,954.25) – Program to create local air monitoring capacity for underserved communities in Jefferson County through a partnership between the Jefferson County Public Health Department and local groups. Air monitors for the particulate matter will be installed and data will be shared through a public-facing dashboard.
  • Tri-County Health Department ($403,996) – Expansion of a community air monitoring network consisting of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) sensors that display real-time, public-facing data across Adams and Arapahoe counties.
  • Black Parents United Foundation ($472,656) – Installation and operation of ozone, VOC, methane, and PM2.5 air monitors in disproportionately impacted communities in Aurora, with data transmitted in real-time to a public-facing web portal.
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