San Diego Foundation recently announced $180,000 in grants to local nonprofits to expand access and training for opportunity youth, or 16- to 24-year-olds not in school or working, in green industry jobs such as urban forestry, agriculture, solar installation, and climate stewardship and advocacy.
“The effects of COVID-19 have amplified existing inequalities for our region’s opportunity youth; many of whom are still experiencing social isolation, job loss, and other negative impacts,” said Christiana DeBenedict, director, of environmental initiatives, San Diego Foundation. “This grant opportunity was developed to strengthen the green job pipeline in the San Diego region.”
Made possible through the support of the County of San Diego, San Diego Foundation additionally collaborated with Youth Will and San Diego Workforce Partnership to build upon the previous grant cycle, strengthening workforce development for opportunity youth in the region.
“These grants redouble our commitment to our new countywide initiative to help young people secure the green careers that will define not only their future but the future of our entire region,” said Terra Lawson-Remer, member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “These investments in a youth green jobs program are an acknowledgment that our economy can’t fully recover until young people recover — and have equitable access to the green economy of tomorrow.”
The San Diego County Amplifying Systems of Support for Youth Career Readiness and Employment grant program directly supports opportunity youth and provides them with quality career readiness, workforce development, and mentorship opportunities with a focus on access to green jobs and green spaces. Grant funding for the green jobs program was provided by the County of San Diego as part of its Youth Environmental/Recreation Corp launched last year by a proposal from Supervisors Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas. This cycle’s new grant recipients include:
- Bayside Community Center – $30,000 to launch a 12-month urban agriculture training program in partnership with Access Inc. and Co-Harvest Foundation.
- Climate Science Alliance – $30,000 to reach out to Indigenous opportunity youth regarding local green jobs, resources, fellowships and mentoring opportunities.
- GRID Alternatives San Diego – $30,000 to expand its Solar Installation Training Program to include local opportunity youth.
- I am Green Inc. – $20,000 to hire interns to become stewards, advocates and change agents for environmental justice and climate equity while supporting the Mount Hope Live and Learn Residential Eco-Village.
- San Diego Canyonlands – $30,000 to provide comprehensive, environmentally paid job training while directly supporting local urban open spaces through planting native vegetation and removing invasive plants, trash and debris.
San Diego Foundation also provided additional funding to its inaugural green jobs grant recipients, including:
- Casa Familiar – $20,000 for paid internships in environmental justice and for community outreach to raise awareness and education of green jobs and careers for opportunity youth in South San Diego County.
- Environmental Health Coalition – $10,000 to expand the environmental justice and advocacy internship for local opportunity youth in Barrio Logan.
- Ocean Discovery Institute – $10,000 to continue environmental science and conservation career mentoring for opportunity youth in City Heights.
A report published by the San Diego Workforce Partnership estimated that there are 417,000 people in the San Diego region between 16 and 24 years of age. Of that group, 31,000 are considered “opportunity youth,” or those who are not in school or working. Providing this population access to green jobs and training builds a socially inclusive and environmentally conscious workforce. By focusing on opportunity youth, San Diego Foundation and its partners can strengthen the green workforce of the near future and strengthen the regional economy.