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World Neighbors Announces New Grant in Honor of Neil Seldman to Enhance Climate Resilience, Zero Waste and Organic Agriculture Projects


Washington, DC – February 2, 2023 – World Neighbors, an international development organization that helps communities lift themselves from poverty through sustainable economic and social development, today announced the Neil Seldman Grant.  This generous Grant will further World Neighbors’s work to help communities in low-income countries lift themselves from poverty while protecting the environment and increasing climate resilience.

Seldman, who co-founded the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) in 1973, has a decades-long history of promoting community empowerment and positive social change.  Through research and advocacy, the ILSR has helped hundreds of communities achieve greater control of their economic, social and environmental decisions.  In 1996, Seldman expanded his work on  environmental sustainability when he co-founded Zero Waste USA. This organization’s mission is to transition to a world in which the concept of “waste” is a thing of the past.  To this end, Zero Waste USA trains individuals, businesses and other organizations to reduce unnecessary use of materials, and to recycle and reuse through composting and other initiatives.

In keeping with this vision, the Neil Seldman Grant will support climate resilience and resource conservation in the 14 countries in which World Neighbors has projects.  This includes climate mitigation and adaptation, organic agricultural inputs, soil health restoration, agroforestry composting and recycling.

The generous grant is from Martin Seldman, Neil’s brother, who has been involved in World Neighbors’ work for many years.

An example of projects the Neil Seldman Grant will support are climate mitigation initiatives in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.  Farmer groups and school environmental clubs will receive additional training to establish woodlots in schools and households.   Woodlots planted with fast-growing trees provide shade and protection from wind.  As important, they reduce pressure to harvest wood from forests.  This reduces the deforestation that contributes to climate change, soil erosion and other impacts that reduce agricultural output and food security.

The majority of World Neighbors’s projects in East Africa, West Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean are led by women.  The Neil Seldman Grant will also enable World Neighbors to increase support for staff such as Srijana Karki, Regional Director for South Asia.  Karki is profiled in “A Woman’s Guide to Power, Presence, and Protection,” a new book co-authored by Martin, Chairman and Co-Founder of Optimum Associates. Karki’s projects in rural Nepal and India have transformed individual women and their communities through environmentally-sustainable development.

“We are very grateful for this generous grant that will support our work to help communities lift themselves from poverty in environmentally responsible ways,” said Kate Schecter, President and CEO of World Neighbors.  “This generous contribution will make a lasting difference in the lives of many families and communities. “

About World Neighbors 

Founded in 1951 by Dr. John L. Peters, World Neighbors works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth.  Instead of short-term aid, World Neighbors creates change that lasts by working alongside villagers, helping them first to identify their critical needs and then to become their own problem solvers. Its mission is to inspire people and strengthen communities to find lasting solutions to hunger, poverty and disease and to promote a healthy environment.

World Neighbors has transformed the lives of more than 28 million people in 45 countries. In the last year, over 600,000 people in 14 countries benefited from World Neighbors’ programs.  Visit for more information.