Ten years ago this week, something special took root. During Earth Week 2010, our partnership with NYCHA was born when we came together with NYCHA’s Resident Economic Empowerment Services and Sustainability Department to recruit Green City Force’s (GCF’s) first full cohort, building on a pilot team in 2009 in Cypress Hills. From the start of GCF, we envisioned building a model green service and jobs corps that could scale across NYC, and inspire youth corps for climate and equity in every city in the world. With NYCHA, we found the logical place to root our action: enlisting the energy and potential of NYCHA young adults, ready to serve, to drive large-scale sustainability and environmental health initiatives benefiting thousands of fellow residents, while building skills for in-demand jobs in the growing green economy.
GCF’s essence is encapsulated in GCF alumna Neffrys Vaquero’s artwork: the Corps Member’s personal growth is at the center of our GCF world, tied to the broader transformation we seek in our cities and society as part of a global community. Every Corps Member is like the acorn at the base of the image, the seed that grows into the mighty oak tree. We work assiduously to be that fertile ground for young people living in public housing and to nurture alumni growth and development, and together as a GCF ecosystem, we strive for justice and peace in symbiosis with the natural world.
As we look back, we can count the rings on the GCF tree in many ways: 20 cohorts, nearly 500,000 service hours completed by our frontline leader AmeriCorps members, 500 alumni, 1.5 million square feet coated and cleaned as the first workforce partner on the NYC Cool Roofs initiative, 7 growing seasons starting from our first farm in Red Hook Houses West, 100,000+ pounds of organic produce grown and exchanged for 27,800 compost scraps collected at our farms, over 40,000 residents reached with sustainability education through our Love Where You Live campaigns, and 156,612 light bulbs replaced by our social enterprise as part of NYCHA’s energy performance contracts.
Today on the occasion of Earth Day, we are proud to introduce our new website. Please join us in looking back at the legacy of GCF, in projects and cohorts, learning about our current projects and looking ahead to how we are innovating through new visions like our Eco²Hubs. If you haven’t yet, please support our social enterprise’s efforts and fill out the Census. If you are in a position to do so, hire a graduate or donate to support our organization at this time. To our GCF community – wishing you a happy Earth Day!
On behalf of GCF,
Lisbeth, Co-Founder and Executive Director