TAZO Tea And SZA Team Up With American Forests
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing society today. The effects of climate change highlight vast social inequalities, with its detrimental effects most visible in communities of color across America. As R&B singer, and now TAZO Tree Corps ambassador, SZA, highlights in the video premiere for this project, decades of racially and economically discriminatory red lining practices have turned some communities into “sacrifice zones” where heavy polluters were placed (such as highways, power plants, chemical treatment plants, and more).
As a result, these areas do not have equal access to clean resources, have fewer green spaces, and have less trees. The TAZO Tree Corps was launched in collaboration with American Forests to combat these inequalities by creating a “paid workforce dedicated to building and maintaining the urban tree canopy in 5 major US cities.” In this blog, Hollywood Branded will explore the relationship between brands and nonprofit organizations, as well as how celebrity endorsements can bring about social change.
Planting The Seeds
American Forests, founded in 1875, is the oldest nonprofit conservation organization in the United States. They have a long history of dedication to environmental protection and equity, making it their mission to establish healthy forests all over the country in both rural and urban areas. American Forests believes that trees are an essential building block in addressing the many facets of climate change including social inequity, clean water, and wildlife preservation.
Over the years, they have had multiple corporate sponsors, as they often work on placed-based projects to promote community engagement. Some of their past partnerships have included Microsoft, Bank of America, Cliff Bar, IKEA, Timberland, and more. Each partnership includes a set of specific goals in relation to how many trees will be planted, over how much time, and where. Each sponsor brings their own strengths to the table and American Forests works with them to create a plan tailored to their brand in order to make the largest impact in their particular community and consumers. Partnering with iconic brands such as the ones previously listed is a great way for nonprofit organizations to raise awareness of their work, as well as make massive progress towards their goals. Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations are notoriously underfunded, making it harder to create the change they seek. Brand partnerships can be a mutually beneficial way to increase engagement and revenue for both parties, as well as work towards a great cause.
Two goals that American Forests hopes to achieve as an organization by the year 2030 are, firstly, that every under-resourced area in 100 American cities reaches a passing Tree Equity Score—an indicator that the neighborhood has enough trees in the right places so all people benefit from trees, and that at least 100,000 people, particularly those from under-resourced communities, have entered jobs in forestry. This is where TAZO Tea’s particular mission comes into play.
The TAZO Tree Corps
For many, the impacts of climate change may seem like a distant issue, unobservable in their own immediate environment. However, this is not the case for many low-income neighborhoods and BIPOC communities across the country. Laraine Miller, President, Unilever Tea Americas, which owns TAZO, emphasizes that “The climate crisis is no longer a future problem – it’s here now and BIPOC communities are disproportionately at risk.” Increasing the number of trees in urban areas, could significantly aid in some of the immediate health risk posed on these areas such as cleaner air, fresh water, and a decrease in temperature (with some city neighborhoods currently averaging 20 degrees hotter than their White counterparts). These benefits prompted the creation of the TAZO Tree Corps which, in collaboration with American Forests, will launch tree planting initiatives in Detroit, MI, Minneapolis, MN, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and later expanding to Richmond, VA and Bronx, NY.
Not only will this initiative spearheaded by TAZO bring about greener spaces and higher environmental qualities of life, but the initiative is also structured to create higher employment. The corps will be run by locally hired tree-planters to create jobs in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods from within their own communities. This is an important aspect of the project considering The same neighborhoods with the highest need for trees also tend to have the highest unemployment. Jad Daley, CEO and President of American Forests notes that “By partnering with TAZO to create the TAZO Tree Corps, we are taking a major step forward in American Forests’ path to achieve Tree Equity. We are building a national movement to ensure that every neighborhood can experience the healing power of trees while also helping create green jobs that benefit people in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.”
Now that the goals of the TAZO Tree Corps are ready to be set into motion later this Spring, it was time to get the word out there and get people interested in working for the Tree Corps! And there is better way to bring this project to the masses than through a partnership with R&B superstar SZA.
SZA has always been a prominent voice in the fight for equitable resources and opportunities for BIPOC communities. In an interview with BAZAAR, the author notes that SZA had previously created the Ctrl Fishing CO., a merch line aimed at saving oceans (which is still in operation today), and attended the Patagonia Sustainability Summit where she learned all about Bluesign Certification, which works through the supply chain to ensure that products are safe for the environment, workers, and customers.
She is taking her passion for environmental justice and brining to urban communities to restore their relationship with the environment. She notes in the previously mentioned interview “I can't tell you how many children I've met in the urban community, from all different colors of Black and Brown, that really just are not comfortable being in nature. I think the biggest takeaway from this is that quality of life and racism are so directly connected." Addressing the roots of racism within the fight for climate change is an important step to cultivating deep, enduring change. And having a strong, influential artist like SZA promoting and working with the TAZO tree corps will inspire the younger generation to consider the intersectional qualities of environmental justice and work towards creating more equitable spaces.
Putting The Pieces Together
Nonprofit organizations run on passions and people’s dedications to a cause, so the more people, the better! Working with a well known and beloved brand, such as TAZO Tea, helps to introduce heir customers to the goals of the foundation, and gives people an easy way to get involved. This opens doors for the non-profit from a financial aspect as well as through symbolic support and awareness. In turn, the brand is aligning themselves with a cause they feel reflects their values which may lead to a more positive public perception. Working with celebrities has a similar affect but takes it to a more personable level. In the case of SZA, her being a previously established advocate for environmental justice, and racial justice of all aspects, makes her a very respectable and approachable figure. This relatability encourages her fans to engage in this project in an intimate way, building on the connection they have to her as an artist.
Today, where you put your money matters, and American Forests provides a great example of how to work with brands and celebrities to spread an important message and get people involved to work towards causes they care about.
A Brighter Future
If you are interested in learning more about how brands, celebrities, and nonprofits can work together to make an impact, check out these previous Hollywood Branded blogs below!
- Case Study: How A Non Profit Leveraged Branded Content
- How Red Nose Day Uses Power Of Celebrity Endorsements For A Good Cause
- Sofia Vergara Launches New Celebrity Brand For A Great Cause
- Budweiser & Adam Driver Team Up For Touching Celebrity Endorsement Ad
- Influential Women On Instagram: Case Studies
Celebrities can be an important tool in building your brand's message and success. Learn more about how to get Celebrities to your brand's event with Hollywood Branded's E-book below!