Green City Force is preparing young adults who live in the New York City Housing Authority for careers in sustainable businesses. The Brooklyn nonprofit, located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, provides training and skills for people seeking jobs with firms related to sustainable practices. Though just 4 years old, Green City Force has an 83% success rate at placing participants in employment after the six-month-long program, with an average income of more than $16 per hour.
“It meant a lot to be something positive happening within my community,” said Joshua Owens, director of social enterprise operations at Green City Force. He’s also a former participant. “I was blown away. It felt like a college course, with so much information with sustainability across all fields — energy work, how to preserve resources, water conservation, urban farming, garden builds.”
Young adults working with the organization get training in sustainable fields and meet with employers. They also receive a $900 stipend twice a month and free MetroCards. Participants also help collect compost and build farm beds at the Housing Authority’s properties, the bounty of which is free to residents.
More than 142,000 pounds of produce has already been grown and distributed. Additionally, Green City Force members go door to door to conduct energy audits designed to educate residents on reducing their carbon emissions. So far, members have reached nearly 45,000 residents and built six farms.
“Showing that we are generating jobs for people that come from this community, showing that the materials they bring us are being recycled, and we are able to grow more food with it, that’s how we get people excited,” said Domingo Morales, a program graduate who went on to start his own company called Compost Power that now partners with Green City Force.
The overarching goal of Green City Force is to develop a community that makes a sustainable economy real for people from underserved communities in the Big Apple. The nonprofit believes that 18–24-year-olds, particularly those from low-income housing, are critical to bringing positive change to communities. This age group is the driving force for transformation and promoting the values of a regenerative, inclusive economy. They see the 600-plus graduates of Green City Force as critical to advancing their careers and the resilient, sustainable future of the communities they call home.