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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Bank of America - Greening of Detroit

Entered in Social Activism


With more businesses embracing sustainability, Bank of America set out to bring attention to tree inequity, which has profound effects on climate resiliency, health, and even economic opportunity. The wealthiest neighborhoods in the U.S. have 65% more tree cover than the neighborhoods with the highest poverty levels. When communities lack trees and access to green space, they’re more heavily impacted by climate change and natural disasters.

As part of its commitment to environmental justice, Bank of America works closely with various nonprofits and local partners to support regreening and urban forest management projects that bring trees and jobs to low- and moderate-income areas in U.S. cities and abroad.

The campaign had various goals: bringing attention to the issue and impact of tree inequity in underserved communities, profile a number of Bank of America’s nonprofit partners who are focused on tackling this issue, and highlight how they use regreening as a way to create more job opportunities and help cities become more sustainable and resilient.

Strategy and Execution

Reducing recidivism is a critically important social goal in the US, though it is often presented as an abstract project with little real human impact. To share why it is important, we wanted to show the effects of incarceration as well as economic opportunity on an individual: Arron Nelson, who as a young man was sentenced to several years in jail for a nonviolent crime. One of the effective ways to keep people from returning to jail once their sentences are complete is to provide them with training and access to livable wage jobs. Greening of Detroit’s novel approach is to combine environmental justice with economic opportunity. Sharing the benefits of an effective and proven way to reduce recidivism, and how the private sector can support communities working to provide opportunity to formerly incarcerated residents, is an important component. To make the most of Arron’s compelling story and the benefits he found in Greening Detroit’s workforce program, the video and article were shared and promoted on the bank’s owned properties and social channels, as well as promoted to an influencer audience — policy makers, journalists, government officials, private sector and nonprofit leaders, academics, etc. — through paid media partnerships and executive social handles. Additionally, Greening of Detroit promoted the content through their partners and channels. Aaron’s story proved both accessible and compelling to the target audiences, and broke through the overwhelming number of stories competing for viewers’ attention; the video and article outperformed on all channels it was shared on.


The final product met and exceeded our team’s objectives. The video not only showcased the work that The Greening of Detroit organization is doing, but provided more insight into specific individuals within the organization, most notably Arron Nelson. Arron’s inspiring story details how he re-entered the workforce after serving ten years in prison, illustrating how impactful job training programs can be.

In addition to Arron’s story, the video highlighted the positive impact that the organization is having within the broader fight for racial and environmental justice by planting trees in neighborhoods that traditionally haven’t had much access to green spaces.

Finally, the video accomplished the goal of demonstrating the Bank’s commitment to investments in programs that support green initiatives and workforce development programs.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Bank of America, Bank of America


Entry Credits