Groundbreaking Boost: $5.5 Million Grant Empowers Yonkers Youth with Exciting Career Opportunities

Yonkers, NY – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has announced $5,526,563 in funding to Groundwork Hudson Valley to create a new Urban Forestry and Climate Resilience Technical Career Pathway for high school students in Southwest Yonkers at the Barack Obama School for Social Justice.  

Oded Holzinger, Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Executive Director, shared his gratitude to the USDA Forest Service and partners for the significant investment made in Yonkers’ low-income communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. “Addressing the current and future climate change-related challenges will require reimagining our workforce and galvanizing initiatives that will make it possible. Young people are inheriting a hotter and wetter planet. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide them with the tools and skills necessary to address these challenges while also setting them up for success with good-paying jobs. This is a win-win.”

Over the 5-year implementation period, between 80 and 100 students from the Barack Obama School for Social Justice will be involved directly in this program which creates a career pathway to well-paid jobs in the field of Urban Forestry. Interim Superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools, Dr. Luis Rodriguez stated, “This opportunity could not come in a timelier manner. The students of Yonkers will benefit greatly from the opportunities associated with this funding. This initiative will work in tandem with other programming established at the school and will support those students interested in environmental justice, urban renewal, and climate change. Concurrently, through the Green Team Program expansion, our students will benefit from working closely with a community partner who is on the cutting edge of the field.”

Building off the success of their sustainability education and youth leadership initiatives, including the youth employment program known as the Green Team, Groundwork will work with Yonkers Public Schools to include urban forestry education in the existing STEM education curriculum and expand the Green Team program to include more paid part-time jobs for youth interested in pursuing careers in the expanding green economy.  

This grant aligns with the Yonkers Climate Action Plan, released in June this year, and will work concurrently with the city’s own $1,000,000 grant from the US Forest Service to plant and maintain trees, and combat extreme heat and climate change. The investment has generated a clear framework to create a more climate-resilient Yonkers for all and marks a critical push to the transition from planning to implementation. “This investment made by our federal partners is an acknowledgment of the need to stem the effects of climate change, especially in some of the nation’s most underserved communities,” said Mayor Spano. “Increasing our urban tree canopy and providing more green space will vastly improve the quality of life of our residents and create healthier generations to come. Yonkers is committed to being a more sustainable, greener, and equitable place for our families.”

For more information on Groundwork Hudson Valley, please visit