Connecting Environment, Economy, and Community
Bridging The Gap (BTG) works to make the Kansas City region sustainable by “connecting environment, economy and community,” and is the premier organization in the area providing environmental education and volunteer action through more than 1,500 volunteers annually.
BTG’s heritage began in 1992 when a few people in Kansas City came together with an idea to create a community based recycling program. Those individuals volunteered their time and efforts to develop a campaign to bring curbside recycling to the residents of Kansas City and established some 20 area recycling centers, a few still in operation. The recycling program built the foundation for Bridging The Gap, but it would develop into much more.
As time moved on, the commitment to Bridging The Gap and its mission grew. Individuals, recognizing the need to protect the environment, wanted to leave a positive legacy for the generations that would come after them. Their passion for a better future drove Bridging The Gap to develop new programs and absorb two other citizen-created programs. BTG has a small staff to sustain the daily operations, but it is the people of the community who are the heart of the organization. Without generous donors and tireless volunteers, the important work of each program could not happen.
Bridging The Gap’s program array remains the most diverse in the U.S. Some of our programs, both past and present, include: EarthWalk (1996-present), Environmental Excellence Business Network – now Green Business Network (1999-present), Keep Kansas City Beautiful (2000-2015), Heartland Tree Alliance (2003 – present), WildLands (2001-present), By-Product Synergy (2004-2013), Clean Commute (2008), Five Green Things (2008-2009), Walking School Bus (2008-2011), Housewarmings (2012-2013), WaterWorks! (2012-2013), and Monarchs (2016-present).
BTG programming in action includes:
- Managing and educating at three Kansas City, Missouri Community Recycling Centers
- Organizing litter clean-ups
- Planting more than 14,000 trees through Heartland Tree Alliance
- Conserving ecosystems on 400 acres of Kansas City WildLands
- Maintaining the lively involvement of more than 75 corporations in sustainability and waste-sharing through the Green Business Network
- Educating more than 400 business people a year on “green” practices through the Green Business Network
- Helping to place 200+ rain barrels at homes each year
- Sustainable beautification through the planting of 175+ monarch butterfly gardens
- Engaging more than 1,500 volunteers annually at more than 100 events, doing the hard, physical work it takes to really improve our environment.
- 2007 Missouri Environmental Education Association Award for Outstanding Service to a Community Organization (Kansas City WildLands)
- 2008 Missouri Arbor Award for Excellence (Heartland Tree Alliance)
- 2009 Environmental Protection Agency’s National Clean Air Excellence Award (Five Green Things)
- Listed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Best Practices for water conservation efforts in low income Kansas City neighborhoods
- 2014 Kansas City Industrial Council’s Sustainable Stewardship Award
- 2015 Missouri Department of Conservation Partner of the Year Award – Forestry Division (Heartland Tree Alliance)
- 2016 Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence (Heartland Tree Alliance)
BTG has a long history of being a major force in educating Kansas Citians about the environment and establishing recycling and other sound behaviors in the region. However, the greatest testimony of success are the thousands of trees planted, the millions of pounds of emissions averted, the protection of native ecosystems, litter-free neighborhoods, and the competitiveness of community businesses through energy efficiency and reduced waste.