Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund Awards 2018 Funding to Two Recipients

December 19, 2018 / 5 mins read

U.S. Virgin Islands— The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) is pleased to announce two recipients of the 2018 Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund Award. Established at CFVI in 2003, the Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund supports studies and activities that address environmental concerns that transcend the boundaries of any single island or island state in the insular Caribbean.

Kaira Thais Fuentes-Viera, has been selected to receive $2,299 to support her dissertation research study that delves into the role of environmental community-based organizations in natural disaster recovery and community resilience in the Caribbean (a case study of Cano Martin Pena, San Juan PR). This unique and timely project focuses on how environmental community-based organizations (CBOs) in Puerto Rico responded to post-disaster relief efforts following the 2017 hurricanes. The resultant research will help to fill a gap in understanding how environmental CBOs and other community stakeholders in Puerto Rico and the wider Caribbean can be supported in their own post-disaster recovery.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), an environmental NGO based in Dutch St. Maarten, has been selected to receive $6,900 to support an economic evaluation study of the Simpson Bay Lagoon that lies at the center of the dual-nation island of St. Maarten (Dutch) and St. Martin (French). The economic valuation of the Lagoon will assess revenue generated annually from the services and goods provided by the Simpson Bay wetlands. It will also offer a cost-benefit analysis of future management scenarios to weigh the trade-offs between conservation and development relevant to the two governments on both sides of the Lagoon.

The Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund Award gives priority to projects that promote integrated approaches to shared environmental concerns in those areas of the Caribbean that were the focus of Towle’s own work for over 40 years. In commenting on this year’s awardees, Ms. Towle stated that the research initiative in Puerto Rico was the first project from a Spanish-speaking Caribbean island to be supported by the Towle Fund and that the project in St. Maarten/St. Martin directly advances the goals of the Towle Fund by focusing on two political systems that share the same natural ecosystem. Towle added that she is particularly pleased that funding was available in 2018 to support two commendable initiatives, each of which will further the purpose for which the Towle Fund was established.


For more than 25 years the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands has been a catalyst for positive change in the Territory through initiatives committed to youth, learning, family support and the environment. With a professional staff and a volunteer Board of Directors composed of community leaders, CFVI is a trusted advocate and supporter of programs that ensure opportunity and sustainability for current and future generations. Most recently, CFVI has been serving as a vehicle for receiving and distributing funds to support hurricane relief efforts throughout the Territory. In addition to providing administrative oversight to over 100 named funds, and programs, CFVI is focused on meeting the emergency, immediate and long-term needs of children, youth and families in the aftermath of two Category 5 hurricanes. CFVI is a registered non-profit organization entirely supported by individual donors, grants, trusts, corporate donations, and estate planning.