On November 20, Chemonics partnered with local, regional, and global environment and youth organizations in the UNLEASH: Race for Oceans – D.C. Cleanup Event.


On Saturday, November 20, Chemonics International, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), Reading Partners D.C., and Anacostia Riverkeeper partnered on the first UNLEASH: Race for Oceans – D.C. Cleanup Event. The organizations mobilized members of the Washington metropolitan community to participate in the event as part of a global movement to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water. The event was one of 50 planned cleanups across 40 countries in October and November that rallied communities to address pollution in local water bodies.

“This collaboration with WEF, Reading Partners D.C., and Anacostia Riverkeeper materialized so naturally and represents the crux of global sustainability issues: everything is connected [cities, rivers, and oceans] and education is the greatest tool young people have to face complex challenges” said Alejandro López-Serrano, a Race for Oceans Champion and a senior associate for Chemonics’ Environment and Natural Resources Practice.

The D.C. cleanup reduced plastic pollution in the Anacostia River over the weekend while facilitating virtual and in-person educational activities that increased community awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship. Chemonics and its partners focused on addressing the pollution in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. This area along the Anacostia River is in much need of attention and close to where Chemonics will open its new D.C. office in January 2022.

Chemonics is committed to building and fostering relationships with D.C. organizations at the forefront of promoting the common good. By partnering with organizations like WEF, which provides technical education and training for water quality professionals responsible for ensuring clean water, Chemonics aims to increase visibility of critical local issues that require more resources to address.

Reading Partners D.C., a fundamental player in the area’s youth education landscape, joined Chemonics and WEF in hosting an online workshop about plastic pollution for Van Ness Elementary School students and their families before the cleanup. In addition, the groups collaborated with Anacostia Riverkeeper to deliver educational talks for all participants during the cleanup.

Chemonics also works more broadly with Reading Partners D.C. to increase literacy levels through an online literacy tutoring program. As “reading partners,” Chemonics staff tutor students from schools in D.C.’s Wards 1, 4, 6, 7, and 8.

“We were thrilled to participate in the UNLEASH: Race for Oceans – D.C. Cleanup event with our partners Chemonics, WEF, and Anacostia Riverkeeper to raise awareness about environmental sustainability in our community,” said Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan, executive director of Reading Partners D.C. “We believe in empowering young students to become critical thinkers and active citizens, and we were excited to engage with Van Ness Elementary students and families in hands-on, educational activities that stressed the connection between local and global.”

Race for Oceans is a not-for-profit initiative that underscores the challenge of growing plastic in the oceans. Initiated in Denmark, Race for Oceans Foundation joined with UNLEASH this year to globalize its concept through a series of local events spearheaded by champions worldwide. UNLEASH is a global innovation lab dedicated to progressing toward the Sustainable Development Goals, mobilizing young people to co-create solutions for positive social and environmental change. As UNLEASH’s Lead Scale Partner, Chemonics is committed to scaling global sustainability movements, like Race for Oceans, at the local level through community-led action.

Banner image caption: Chemonics Washington staff members, partners, and their families at the Race for Oceans – D.C. Cleanup Event.