Written by Alvaro Sanchez Sanchez
Senior Associate, Green For All
Improving the social conditions of disadvantaged communities is no easy task. For years, workforce development programs have been helping members of these communities gain access to employment opportunities by preparing them for the workplace and providing them with the skills they need to succeed.
In our recent report, Staying Green and Growing Jobs: Green Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance as Career Pathway Stepping Stones, we profile seven organizations that are linking members from disadvantaged communities to opportunities in green infrastructure. These groups are diverse with respect to the populations they serve, the skills they teach, and the types of work they perform—but all of them recognize that green infrastructure has the potential to transform communities.
Based on interviews with social enterprises and workforce development organizations throughout the country, we identified twelve components that make their programs successful. Future projects that seek to establish workforce development programs linking disadvantaged communities to green infrastructure should keep these twelve programmatic characteristics in mind. To better describe these components, we created an infographic (below) that highlights the best features of each organization and provides details about the types of work they are involved in. Organizations in our study are engaged in installation of green infrastructure, operations and maintenance, education and outreach to community members, efficiency audits, and cultivation of food and plants.
A successful program has four general features: 1) it develops the skill sets of program participants; 2) it establishes partnerships to carry out its mission; 3) it has access to sustainable funding, work experience, and career opportunities; and finally, 4) it has broad constituencies of support.