CHISPA Archives - Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Chispa Maryland Celebrates its First Promotores Graduates from Baltimore City and Baltimore County

2023 Promotores Graduates

In late June, Maryland LCV Education Fund’s Chispa Maryland program celebrated its first-ever class of grassroots leaders, or promotores, from Baltimore County and Baltimore City. The 18 graduates are now trained to work with their community to promote key environmental issues, including advocating for clean, electric school buses that protect the health of their children and the air we all breathe.

Since beginning its promotores training program in 2016, Chispa Maryland has graduated 143 grassroot community leaders. The recently graduated promotores from Baltimore City and Baltimore County attended six weeks of classes with Morena Zelaya, the organizing manager for Chispa Maryland, and Eliseo Magos Gonzalez, Chispa’s community organizer. Their weekly sessions focused on the basics of climate justice, civic engagement, advocacy, and community organizing. 

“Our lessons were really about our rights,” said Morena. “Our right to clean air, clean water, and a safe climate for us and our children. And now these incredible volunteers have the tools to advocate for the environmental rights that are so important to our communities.”

Morena and Eliseo will continue to work with the promotores to create comités (committees) in both Baltimore County and Baltimore City to facilitate their long-term organizing and broader community participation.

“It is so inspiring to see the enthusiasm and leadership displayed by these new promotores,” said Eliseo. “And it’s wonderful to know that we’re not just training 18 promotores, but also helping create a new generation of Latino community advocates who will work for climate justice.”  

If you would like to support the Chispa Maryland program and help train grassroots leaders throughout our state, please donate at



About Maryland League of Conservation Voters:
We use political action and education to fight for clean water, healthy air, and climate resilient communities for everyone in Maryland. Our programs strengthen and build the power of the environmental community, and they expand, deepen, and activate a base of conservation-minded voters around the state.

About Chispa Maryland of Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund:
Chispa Maryland is a key program of Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund that works to ensure Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice in protecting our air, land, water, public health, and communities. 


2023-07-03T16:18:07-04:00July 3rd, 2023|Categories: Blog, CHISPA, Education Fund|Tags: |

Chispa Maryland asks Baltimore County to Transition to Electric School Buses

CHISPA team photo in front of the Baltimore County Public Schools office.

Chispa Maryland staff and volunteers, including Lucia Islas (third from left) and Eliseo Magos (right), at the June 13 Baltimore County Board of Education meeting.

Chispa Maryland asks Baltimore County to Transition to Electric School Buses

On June 13, Chispa Maryland staff and volunteers testified at the Baltimore County’s Board of Education meeting to encourage the county to move from polluting diesel buses to clean electric school buses.

“Today I am joined by mothers of students from Baltimore County who are concerned about the air their children are breathing,” testified Eliseo Magos Gonzalez, a community organizer with Maryland LCV’s Chispa Maryland Program. “They know that diesel school buses emit dangerous pollutants that kids breathe into their developing lungs, and that these pollutants can cause respiratory illnesses and aggravate asthma.”

According to Chispa volunteer Lucia Islas, a mother of a Baltimore County eighth-grader, “…a child riding in a diesel school bus may be exposed to up to 15 times the level of toxic diesel exhaust as someone  riding in a car. For Black and Latino children – who are more  likely to have asthma than their white peers – riding in diesel  school buses is especially harmful.”

Lucia and Eliseo encouraged the school board to commit to transitioning its entire fleet of school buses from diesel to electric, and to take advantage of existing and emerging funding opportunities to speed that transition, including the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program and Maryland’s Electric School Bus Pilot Program.

You can help protect the health of Maryland’s school children by encouraging your local school board to make the transition to clean, electric school buses. Check here to see if your county has the opportunity to take advantage of the EPA’s 2023 Clean Bus Program – and if so, please take action today!

2023-06-21T16:04:13-04:00June 16th, 2023|Categories: CHISPA|

Chispa Maryland Rallies Advocates in Baltimore County and Baltimore City

Eliseo (front row, second from left) and Morena (front row, third from left) at a recent meeting of Chispa Maryland volunteers in Baltimore.

Every day, more than 650,000 children in Maryland ride to school on a school bus powered by diesel fuel, which exposes children to toxic exhaust that increases their lifetime risk of respiratory illnesses and even cancer. Approximately one in 10 of these young bus riders suffer from asthma — a leading cause of school absenteeism — and this asthma rate is higher among minority groups.

In Baltimore City and Baltimore County, parents are increasingly rallying in support of both their children and cleaner air, thanks to Chispa Maryland. Chispa, which means “spark” in Spanish, is a program launched in 2014 by Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Chispa Maryland ensures that Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting our air, land, water, public health, and future.

The Chispa Maryland team has been engaging and connecting with concerned mothers through canvassing, community house meetings, tabling at events, and PTA meetings. The immediate goal, says Morena Zelaya, the organizing manager for Chispa Maryland, is to encourage these new advocates to push their school boards to commit to transitioning their school bus fleets to zero-emission electric school buses that will protect the health of children and their communities.

The response has been extremely encouraging, says Morena. She and her partner, Chispa Maryland Community Organizer Elíseo Magos González, are now training a new group of 20 Baltimore County volunteer promoters – or “promotores to be leaders on environmental issues that are important to the community, and several of these promotores have already reached out to their school boards about the advantages of electric school buses. Through their work in the Baltimore region, Morena and Eliseo have also established a strong partnership with another Latino-outreach group, Comité Latino de Baltimore.

Health concerns are a driving theme for much of their Latino audience, says Morena. “Several of our new promotores are mothers whose children have asthma. They care about the electric school bus issue and about climate justice because they want better health outcomes for their children, and a better future.”

“Many of the community members we support haven’t had the same education or opportunities that Morena and I have,” says Eliseo. “But they are eager to learn and advocate. I’m confident they will continue to pass the information along and soon we will have a better environment.”

Although the bulk of Chispa Maryland’s work is with Maryland’s Latino communities, the group welcomes support from anyone in Maryland who is interested in advocating for environmental justice locally and statewide. In fact, says Morena, Chispa’s efforts just received a significant boost from a non-Latino PTA president, Rachel Lemus, who offered to advocate for electric school buses at an upcoming Board of Education meeting, and another community leader who is using her Facebook page to promote Chispa and electric school buses.

“We plan to continue to expand the program to communities throughout Maryland, and everyone is welcome,” says Morena. “We need all the help we can get!”

To learn more or to get involved with Chispa Maryland, please contact Eliseo via email at or via phone at 240-705-6865.


2023-06-21T16:08:39-04:00May 30th, 2023|Categories: CHISPA|

Chispa Maryland and Maryland LCV Statement on EPA Clean School Bus Program Funding for Baltimore City Public Schools

For Immediate Release
October 26, 2022

Chispa Maryland/Maryland LCV Statement on EPA Clean School Bus Program Funding for Baltimore City Public Schools 

Annapolis, MD –  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the recipients of the inaugural, $965 million Clean School bus Program rebates. The program, created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, will invest $5 billion over five years in clean school buses. The 2022 rebates will fund approximately 2,400 new school buses for nearly 400 school districts across all 50 states, 30 tribal nations and multiple U.S. territories, with the overwhelming majority of funds going to electric school buses. 

In Maryland, Baltimore City Public Schools will receive $9,425,000 to purchase 25 electric school buses. Baltimore City Schools currently uses more that 200 buses, both contracted and owned. In response to the announcement, Ramón Palencia Calvo, Chispa Maryland Director and Maryland LCV Deputy Executive Director, issued the following statement: 

“Investing in electric school buses is an investment in clean air and  most importantly, our school children. These buses have the potential to be transformational for Baltimore City Public Schools, eliminating toxic chemicals in the air that our children and communities breathe and providing quieter rides, better health, and fewer school absences due to preventable respiratory illnesses. 

“Other Maryland school districts also have new opportunities on the horizon: They will be able to apply for another round of EPA grants next year, and Maryland is creating a new Electric School Bus Pilot Program to allow participating school districts to receive funds for electric school buses. Chispa Maryland and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) have been working with eligible school districts to ensure they take advantage of these opportunities. 

“In Maryland, more than 650,000 kids ride school buses. We and our partners remain committed to getting many more electric school buses on the road with the goal of pollution-free communities for all Marylanders. We are calling on school boards and elected officials across Maryland to put the health of our youth and communities first by transitioning the state’s school bus fleet to clean, zero-emission electric school buses.” 


2023-07-24T13:17:53-04:00October 26th, 2022|Categories: CHISPA, Media|Tags: , , , |

“Best in Nation” Climate Bill Highlights 2022 Legislative Session’s Many Environmental Achievements 

Press release from Maryland League of Conservation Voters


Contact: Kristen Harbison, 410.952.8100                                                                                                     

“Best in Nation” Climate Bill Highlights 2022 Legislative Session’s Many Environmental Achievements 

Annapolis, MD – After struggling for several years to reach consensus on a comprehensive bill to address climate change in Maryland, the 2022 Legislative Session closed tonight with passage of the Climate Solutions Now Act. The momentous bill commits the state to net-zero climate emissions by 2045 and requires a 60 percent carbon reduction goal by 2031, the strongest near-term goal in the country.

The Climate Solutions Now Act passed the General Assembly on March 31 and became law when Gov. Hogan chose not to veto the bill.

“The Climate Solutions Now Act is a huge step toward a brighter future for our public health, budgets, and communities,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “It is major news that Maryland is leading the fight against climate change. We are enormously grateful the Maryland General Assembly had the courage and vision to vote for a healthy future for Marylanders, and that the Governor chose not to stand in the way of progress.”

The Climate Solutions Now Act also incorporated many provisions that traditionally would have been included in stand-alone bills.

The Act requires emissions reductions from large buildings and creates a 15-month study to determine steps needed to electrify new buildings.

The bill also includes an electric school bus pilot program in which utilities partner with school boards to purchase electric buses and use them for electricity grid storage. It creates the first in the nation mandate that school buses purchased after 2024 be zero-emission and requires all state passenger and light-duty vehicles to be zero-emission by 2031 and 2036 respectively.

Coble also celebrated environmental justice advancements in the bill.

It codifies the definition of “overburdened” and “underserved” to ensure equitable treatment of communities and sets goals for state clean energy investments in overburdened communities. And it will make the benefits of solar energy more accessible to low- and moderate-income (LMI) households by exempting solar on rooftops, parking garages, and brownfields from property taxes if it provides more than 50% of the energy to these households.

“Along with our community partners, we are still pushing Maryland to create a comprehensive policy framework to achieve environmental justice in the state, based on community-driven solutions,” said Coble. “Although the state still falls short of that paradigm shift, the 2022 legislative session delivered significant equity advances to communities that are disproportionately harmed by  environmental and public health problems.”

Several bills supported by the environmental community did not pass, including the FUTURE Act, which would have mandated a transition to zero-emissions for Maryland’s State University System, and the Clean Truck Rule, which would have signed Maryland onto the Advanced Clean Truck Rule to drive electrification of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. A grant program for medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles within the Clean Cars Act (HB1039), however, does take positive steps in this area.

“On the whole, the successes of the 2022 legislative session provide a valuable reminder that to achieve meaningful, lasting environmental victories, we need to elect conservation-minded candidates,” said Coble. “We are enormously grateful to our legislative leaders who delivered for Maryland’s environment and communities this session. It’s crucial that Maryland’s next governor builds on the victories of this legislative session to advance the state towards 100 percent clean energy and truly equitable environmental policies.”

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2023-01-03T14:54:46-05:00April 12th, 2022|Categories: CHISPA, Education Fund|

How Students Can Fight Climate Change at Their Schools

By 2021 Spring Intern, Shivani Sidh

This spring, I had the opportunity to do an internship at Maryland League of Conservation Voters. I chose to work with the organization because I’m interested in climate justice: resolving the environmental, ethical, and equity issues created by climate change.

Shivani Sidh is a student at Garrison Forest School who is volunteered with the Chispa Maryland program. Post-graduation she will progress to the University of Maryland as a Public Policy major. Shivani is grateful for the opportunity to work in a professional setting and excited to work with Maryland LCV on environmental justice and social equity policies.

Addressing the complex issue of environmental justice can seem challenging, especially for high school students who want to get involved in the fight for climate change. However, one opportunity for involvement is closer and simpler than expected. High schoolers can use their position as students to create change by working for school bus electrification, a campaign that aims to transition fleets from diesel to electric school buses.

While school buses are an efficient method of transport, most are powered by diesel, which has adverse effects on children and the atmosphere. Each day, countless children travel on diesel buses to attend school. In comparison to someone riding in a car, a child in a diesel school bus may be exposed to as much as four times the level of toxins. Diesel emits carcinogens and particulate matter, which can exacerbate common breathing conditions such as asthma. It’s significant to note that minority children have higher asthma rates in comparison to their white counterparts. Diesel emissions also cause an increased risk for a multitude of illnesses ranging from cancer to heart disease.

Diesel holds an additional risk to the environment, as in addition to the toxins, it releases a variety of pollutants (such as CO2 and nitrogen oxides). The health and well being of children and the environment should not be compromised by something as common as a school bus.

Students can encourage the transition to cleaner transportation by educating themselves on the severity of climate change, signing petitions, and reaching out to elected officials. Students can also work with teams, possibly joining organizations like Maryland LCV and participating in their efforts, creating environmental clubs, and reaching out to the transportation department for their respective schools.

There are currently a number of avenues for school districts to start transitioning their fleets from diesel to electric that range from from federal grant programs and loans to utility investment, financing strategies and vehicle-to-grid technology. Maryland LCV’s Chispa program supported a state bill that intended to launch a pilot project to electrify school bus fleets in Maryland districts. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass through the Senate, but Maryland LCV and its partners intend to re-address the issue in the next legislative session.

Some Maryland school districts are creating their own solutions to begin the deployment of electric school buses and practice sustainability. Montgomery County recently approved a contract to lease 326 electric buses, a model that can be used to eventually electrify the entire bus fleet. Additionally, in March of 2021, Prince George’s County Public Schools became the first to commit to a Net Zero Emissions  plan. They vowed that by 2040 their transportation would be “fully clean”.

Hopefully, with student help, the efforts of environmental groups, and the work of legislators, all Maryland diesel school buses will be replaced by 2030.

If you are a high school student interested in advocating for electric buses at your school, please let us know. We would love to help you in your efforts! Email us at

2023-05-30T15:07:48-04:00July 27th, 2021|Categories: CHISPA, Education Fund|

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Reposted with permission from the Bay Journal

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Program has trained more than 100 residents to become advocates for their communities

By Jeremy Cox : September 15, 2020

Candida Garcia had never been involved in environmental causes. But over the past four years, she has founded a community garden, grilled local officials about air quality, campaigned for statewide bans on plastic bags and straws and successfully lobbied her county to purchase electric school buses.

Candida Garcia and students from Rosa Parks Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD, teamed up to create the school’s community garden.

Garcia chalks up her transformation to a leadership program tailored to a demographic that the White-dominated environmental movement has historically overlooked: the Latinx community.

Including Garcia’s inaugural class of 2016, Chispa Maryland has produced more than 100 graduates from its Promotores program. Over the course of six to eight weekly classes, they are given the basics of environmental justice, advocacy and community organizing — with the hope of creating a generation of grassroots “promoters.”

Garcia and her fellow promotores are finding that their work has never been more difficult or urgent. During one of the most imperative moments in its short history, the program may be the prototype that shows green groups in the Chesapeake Bay region and elsewhere how to diversify their membership, said Ramon Palencia-Calvo, director of Maryland’s Chispa.

“I think there’s an understanding among environmental groups that we need to expand our reach beyond the typical audience — the White middle-class person who has disposable time and income to volunteer for an environmental cause,” he said. “We want to create a movement that represents the entire population of Maryland.”

Nearly 90% of leadership positions in environmental groups nationwide were held by White people as of 2014, according to a widely cited study. Hispanics and Latinos occupied fewer than 3% of those positions.

Due to racist housing policies, their communities, though, tend to bear more environmental burdens, suffering from poorer air quality, greater impacts from climate change and more toxic contamination.

Candida Garcia works at the Rosa Parks Elementary School community garden, which science teachers have used as a living classroom.

“In order to make real change, we needed to build power in those communities that are overburdened by pollution and are underserved,” Palencia-Calvo said.

Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, was created by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in 2014. It was the fourth state-based LCV organization to have its own Latinx-geared program after New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. LCV affiliates in Connecticut and Nevada launched programs the following year, bringing the total to six nationwide.

Palencia-Calvo, a former fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, has been overseeing the Maryland program from its earliest days. He never worried about finding a receptive audience. Polls routinely show that Hispanics are concerned about global warming and are apt to believe it is caused by humans. They also show a strong commitment to a host of other environmental issues.

So, he and his team started knocking on doors, beginning in Langley Park in Prince George’s County. About three-quarters of the community’s nearly 20,000 residents are Hispanic. Their housing is often plagued by mold and lead-based paint. The outdoors offers little reprieve because the air is fouled by the area’s heavy traffic.

Four years later, about 30 of Chispa’s promotores reside in the densely populated nook just inside the northeastern corner of the District of Columbia’s Capital Beltway. Garcia was one of the first.

Speaking in Spanish with Palencia-Calvo acting as a translator, she said concerns about the health of her four children triggered her interest in the environment. Could one of her son’s severe asthma attacks be linked to bad air quality or her aging home? How could she find out if her drinking water was safe?

She and other Chispa participants gathered with their families in the evenings at the local community center. Childcare wasn’t a problem because Chispa had educational activities waiting for them. Everyone brought a dish to share.

Chispa staff conducted most of the training, but some sessions featured experts from other environmental groups. After 40 hours of training — the total has since been shortened to 24 hours — Garcia received her graduation certificate. She swelled with pride. “Muy feliz” (very happy) is how she describes the feeling today.

Then, Garcia got to work. With financial support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, she organized a community garden at Rosa Parks Elementary in Hyattsville. It was designed as a “therapy space,” where families could enjoy a rare opportunity to be together, she said. They grew tomatoes, peppers and other staples, which were distributed among some of the school’s low-income families. For the science teachers, it became a living classroom.

Because of the pandemic, the garden was left fallow this year, but Garcia’s other efforts continue to bear fruit. In 2017, Chispa Maryland launched a “Clean Buses for Healthy Ninos” campaign, seeking to steer some of the state’s $75 million Volkswagen settlement money toward zero-emission, electric school buses. Garcia was on the campaign’s front lines, writing a blog post and talking to elected officials.

Last September, the Maryland Department of the Environment invested $2.5 million of that funding in an electric– and propane-bus pilot program in four counties, including Prince George’s.

The Promotores classes have been put on hold this year because of the pandemic, but Chispa leaders hope to restart the program once it’s safe for groups to gather again.

This year’s seemingly unending battle with COVID-19 has plunged Garcia and Palencia-Calvo into territory that would be unfamiliar for many green-focused groups. Garcia, a board member with the Langley Park Civic Association, partnered with Chispa to apply for a grant from LCV’s COVID-19 fund. The association was awarded $20,000, which will be disbursed to families who have suffered financially because of the pandemic. Chispa and the civic association collected an additional $15,000 through community fundraising efforts.

The community has given much to the green movement over the years. Now, it’s time to give back, Garcia said.

“Environmentalism is about the health of the families and the people that we love,” she said.

2020-09-23T09:58:31-04:00September 23rd, 2020|Categories: CHISPA, Media|Tags: , , |

Racial Justice Response Statement

June 4, 2020

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Maryland LCV Education Fund share your outrage, grief, and pain over the killings of George Floyd and other members of the Black community. We steadfastly stand in solidarity with those calling for justice, accountability, and an end to the systemic racism and insidious cycle of violence that is inflicted upon the community. For too long, too many Black communities have been disenfranchised, marginalized, polluted, and prevented from voting, speaking up, or even living without fear of arrest, injury, or worse. Black people have a right to safety, to enjoy the outdoors, to live without being harmed by environmental pollutants, and to vote. And we all have the responsibility to fight for these rights.

Maryland LCV commits to holding ourselves accountable to ensure racial equity is embedded in our programs and operations. We also commit to redoubling our efforts to elect and hold accountable leaders who will ensure the security and rights of all people equally and to continue our work to guarantee that all Marylanders – especially our Black and Brown brothers and sisters  – have an effective political voice and access to clean air and water and safe and healthy communities. We commit to being an organization that works tirelessly on behalf of all Marylanders, but especially members of Maryland’s Black and Brown communities, to protect the right to vote, to protest, to breathe.

For all in the Conservation Voter Movement and beyond who want to act now to be part of the solution, we urge you to seek out organizations and individuals that have been working on the front lines of this essential work to protect protestors and our basic human rights and dignity during this time.  We also strongly urge you to be part of the solution this November by exercising your right to vote.

National LCV’s statement

Below are a few articles that we will be taking to heart:

2020-06-04T17:20:01-04:00June 4th, 2020|Categories: CHISPA, Education Fund|Tags: , |

Update: Terrific News for Langley Park Latino Community

July 22,2020

Thank you again for your generosity in donating to our GoFundMe campaign during May 2020 for the “COVID-19 Crisis Fund” for the Latino community of Langley Park. I’m delighted to now report that another $20,000 has been awarded – in addition to the more than $10,000 that you helped raise – to directly assist this community!

I’m so proud of this effort fostered by our CHISPA Maryland program in partnership with the Langley Park Civic Association. “This grant from the League of Conservation Voters will provide a great relief to these families so that they are not left behind, and it will also help our community to move forward together,” said Cándida Garcia, a board member of the Langley Park Civic Association. “The Civic Association will use these funds to provide direct financial relief to immigrant families that are experiencing hardships related to COVID-19 and increase the capacity of the Langley Park Civic Association to better assist residents of this community during the pandemic and beyond.”

The Langley Park community is a longtime partner of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Through our Chispa Maryland program, and in partnership with community members, faith leaders, and the Langley park Civic Association — we have delivered environmental education workshops, advocacy opportunities, and leadership training that has produced over 30 Environmental Justice and Action “Promotores” (advocacy leaders) from this community over the past five years.

“These Promotores and leaders have become the heart and soul of the Chispa Maryland program, and this community has been a key ally in advancing environmental legislation and policies that incorporate environmental justice in Maryland,” said Chispa Maryland Program Director Ramon Palencia-Calvo. “With many community members experiencing income loss due to lay-offs or significant reduction of work hours, and many unable to access federal assistance programs, we consider continued support for the community to be an urgent priority.”

In May, Maryland LCV Education Fund and Chispa Maryland partnered with the Langley Park Civic Association to also assist its immigrant residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Jointly, the two raised over $10,000 through a 10-day GoFundMe campaign to help families with emergency assistance for rent, food, medicine, and other essential items.

“During that same May period, we applied for the $20,000 grant for the community from the national League of Conservation Voters’ COVID-19 Fund,” said Palencia-Calvo. “We are thrilled that the funds have now been awarded, because the community of Langley Park continues to experience hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Those who are interested in supporting Chispa’s COVID-19 community relief efforts should contact Maryland LCV Education Fund at

Kim Coble

Executive Director

May 20, 2020- Original Post

By Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Director and Chispa Maryland Director                                                                                        En español 

Together we give

Through our Chispa Maryland program, we have developed transformational relationships with a variety of environmental and community groups. The Prince George’s County community of Langley Park,where upwards of 80% of the residents are Latino, has become one of our most effective and valued partners. 

Our Chispa Maryland program and community leaders and residents of Langley Park have collaborated on environmental education workshops, advocacy opportunities, community clean ups, environmental forums, and air quality monitoring. I know I can always count on the Langley Park community to go the extra mile in support of the environmental issues that are so important to all of us.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is severely threatening the Langley Park community, one of the most affected areas in all of Maryland. Latino community members are experiencing income loss due to layoffs or significant reduction of work hours, and many have been unable to access federal assistance or other relief programs. 

Join our effort today to support our partners in need, our campaign ends on May 31st!  To donate, visit our Charity GoFundMe page by clicking here!

Over 30 Environmental Justice and Action Promotores from this community have graduated from our program. These Promotores and leaders have become the heart and soul of the Chispa Maryland program, and this community has helped us advance environmental legislation and policies, such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, and banning styrofoam in Prince George’s County. 

In response to the needs of our community allies, Chispa Maryland is partnering with the Langley Park Civic Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves individuals residing in Langley Park, to assist its immigrant community directly affected by COVID-19 and the broader pandemic.  This organization and the people they represent have been key partners in helping Chispa Maryland advocate for climate justice.

They have stood with us to advance our joint environmental priorities, and now they need us to stand with them. Join us today in support of the Langley Park community and our 10 day campaign to raise funds directly to those in need. Donate to our COVID-19 Crisis Fund! 

The Langley Park Civic Association will identify families that require critically urgent financial assistance for rent, food, medicine, or other essential items. The funds will be used to provide direct financial relief to those families who might have been rejected from other funding sources, have received only partial relief, or have emergency needs that are simply too urgent to undergo a complex administrative process. 

Check out our press release here.

Thank you and I hope you and your families are well in this time,

Headshot of Ramon Palencia-Calvo

Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director and Chispa Maryland Director
Maryland LCV Ed Fund and Chispa Maryland

2020-07-22T12:20:16-04:00May 20th, 2020|Categories: CHISPA, Education Fund|Tags: , |

Chispa Maryland Welcomes the Announcement of Funding for Electric School Buses in Maryland

Contact: Ramón Palencia-Calvo Cell: (202) 531-5091

September 27, 2019

Chispa Maryland Welcomes the Announcement of Funding for
Electric School Buses in Maryland

Annapolis, MD- On September 27th, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced funding for electric school buses as part of pilot programs to improve air quality and provide immediate health benefits to children through reduced vehicle emissions for four school districts in Maryland.

“Chispa Maryland celebrates this critical milestone in cleaning up our school fleets. We will continue working with Governor Hogan, MDE, and local school districts to phase out dirty diesel school buses in Maryland to protect the health of children and advance our Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) and Director of Chispa Maryland, community organizing program of Maryland LCV.

Volkswagen cheated federal emissions tests and polluted the air with toxins that increase respiratory illnesses and further the effects of climate change. In 2017, Chispa Maryland launched the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign. The campaign, supported by thousands of parents, students, and advocates called for using the money that Maryland received from the Volkswagen Mitigation Fund to transition diesel public school buses to zero emissions electric school buses to protect the health of students and communities, especially these in communities most affected by poor air quality.

Palencia-Calvo added, “we congratulate all the youth and allies that are working tirelessly to accelerate this transition to clean electric buses and are encouraged to see the commitment of the Hogan Administration to zero emission vehicles by financing all the electric school bus projects submitted as part of this settlement. However, at a time when every dollar in Maryland’s education system is critical, we are perplexed by the fact that school districts left $2.1million unclaimed.”

After this first round of funding, about $2.1 million remains available for school bus projects. MDE intends to open this funding for new proposals in spring 2020. Chispa Maryland will continue advocating to use these funds for zero emissions school buses.


Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, is a program of Maryland League of Conservation Voters launched in 2014. Chispa Maryland has been working to ensure that Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting the environment, our health, and our future. Chispa works with Latino families, community groups, faith-based organizations, and legislators to identify and address unique environmental issues facing Latino communities in Maryland.

2020-01-11T17:58:22-05:00September 27th, 2019|Categories: CHISPA|