The RiverSmart Homes Ambassadors Program was implemented in 2022 to engage residents in historically underserved/overburdened communities which are also in DC’s most impacted watersheds. While participation in RiverSmart Homes, an incentive program to reduce stormwater pollution, is strong and has increased just about every year since inception, participation rates have not been equitable across the city. In just one year, the Ambassadors Program achieved more equitable program participation by implementing unique, targeted, meaningful outreach and engagement with promising results.
Ambassadors engage with their communities in a variety of ways; they provide education on stormwater pollution and prevention, native plants, invasive plant management, and BMPs that reduce and manage stormwater. Ambassadors also serve as stewards in their communities. They engage in informal conversations with their neighbors while on walks or working in their yards. Through these conversations they promote stewardship, provide resources, problem solve, and foster community connectivity. As trusted community Ambassadors, they are able to hear the needs and concerns from their neighbors and share that feedback with DOEE. This enables RiverSmart Homes to utilize that feedback and make RiverSmart Homes program adjustments based on community needs and preferences. In 2022, four ambassadors engaged 200 residential property owners through door-to-door canvassing and reached another 284 community members at four outreach events. In exchange, they received $250 stipends and complimentary maintenance services on their own RiverSmart Homes BMPs.