With initial funding from the City of Santa Fe, the Verde Community Project is focused on tackling poverty in Santa Fe while addressing the impact of climate change.
“We’re proud to partner to leverage our strengths for the benefit of Santa Fe’s families and children.”
Melynn Schuyler, YouthWorks Executive Director
Led by YouthWorks, nearly a dozen local organizations are working together to help “at-risk” young people develop job skills and give them the opportunity to participate in meaningful work that will improve life for others in the Santa Fe community.
Scroll down to see the efforts underway with our Verde Project partners.
The Verde Community Project has launched MoGro at the sites served by the Verde after-school meal program.
On Wednesdays, parents picking up their children can purchase a box of fresh fruits and vegetables, for healthier meals at home.
Each box contains eight different kinds of fruits and vegetables, most of them local and organically grown. For details, see below.
As part of the Verde Community Project, an effort with initial funding by the City of Santa Fe, young people from YouthWorks are learning how to weatherize homes.
Training was held last week, December 6-8, at Santa Fe Community College and included a tour of the EnergySmart Academy Lab and Manufactured Home.
Students got an introduction to the tools and materials used in weatherization and instruction in on-the-job safety. During the course of their training, they got demonstrations and gained experience in hands-on installation in these areas:
- Measuring electricity consumption
- Carbon Monoxide and smoke alarms
- Sealing air leaks with caulk and spray foam, weather-stripping
- Water heaters – general operation and insulating electric and gas units
- Calculating water flow
- Installing low-flow show heads
- Insulating water pipes
- Installing window insulator kits
Following completion of the training, these young people will be working in teams under the supervision of crew leaders from Proscape, a local landscaping and maintenance business that has volunteered its supervisory services as a way of contributing to the community.
The crews will focus on weatherizing forty homes of local residents who cannot afford to take these energy-saving steps on their own.
The YouthWorks wildfire crew was featured in the National Fire Protection Association blog for making an “incredible difference” in the wildfire safety of our community while at the same time learning basic forestry skills.
To read the full blog post, click here.
The City of Santa Fe and the Mayor’s Sustainability Commission have just announced the winners of the 2017 Mayor’s Sustainability Awards.
The YouthWorks Verde Community Project is being honored as the runner-up in the “Triple Bottom Line” category for creating a unique set of partnerships to address issues at the intersection of climate change and poverty alleviation.
For details about the other winners and the awards ceremony on November 9, 2017, click here.
Mayor Gonzales and City Councilors Peter Ives, Sig Lindell, and Renee Villareal visited the Verde Community Project kitchen this week to meet the culinary team from YouthWorks.
These young people, who are enrolled in culinary training at YouthWorks, are using their newly learned job skills to prepare healthy meals for low-income children at after-school programs in local elementary schools and Boys and Girls Clubs.
The Verde Wildfire crew members continue their work at the Santa Fe Institute’s Tesuque site. They’re clearing dead and down wood to mitigate the possibility of wildfires, work that will eventually cover more than 100 acres around Santa Fe.
Approximately 1600 tons of dead and down wood will be recycled as biomass, or firewood, or mulch or become healthy compost.
Crews from the Verde Community Project erect another greenhouse at Reunity Resources. The fresh vegetables grown here will be used in meals delivered to after-school programs at local schools and social services organizations like the Boys and Girls Club.
YouthWorks, in collaboration with the Food Depot, launched the Verde Community Project’s after-school meal program on Monday, October 16.
This program, which is partially funded by the City of Santa Fe’s Verde Fund, will provide fresh, nutritious meals to elementary school children at risk of not having enough to eat.
Young people enrolled in the YouthWorks culinary job-training program prepare the meals, which are then delivered each day to local elementary schools and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Developing Culinary Skills to Feed Hungry Children
YouthWorks culinary students work in the Verde kitchen, preparing nutritious meals for the after-school meal program.
This effort, a collaboration between the Food Depot and YouthWorks, will feed children who might otherwise not have enough to eat after the end of the school day.
Growing Produce for After-School Meal Program
Ian and Denysse gather produce at the Reunity Resources greenhouse and compost yard to deliver to the Verde kitchen for the after-school meal program that serves children who might otherwise not have enough to eat after the end of the school day.
Training to Protect the Forest and Fight Wildfires
As part of the Verde Community Project, young people from YouthWorks train with experts from the Wildfire Network to learn ecological monitoring, erosion control techniques, and basic wildland firefighting.
On Friday, August 25, Krys Nystrom of the Wildfire Network briefed a young audience at YouthWorks about training opportunities in ecological monitoring, erosion control techniques, and basic wildland firefighting.
These positions are funded by the Verde Community Project, an initiative partially funded by the City of Santa Fe.
On Friday, August 25, at 9 am, Krys Nystrom of the Wildfire Network will speak at YouthWorks about training opportunities available through the Verde Community Project.
With the support of the City of Santa Fe Verde Fund, YouthWorks is partnering with the Wildfire Network to provide training to young adults, ages 18 through 25, in ecological monitoring, erosion control techniques, and basic wildland firefighting.
YouthWorks is gearing up recruitment for five to six part-time job opportunities with Verde Community Project partner Reunity Resources.
Reunity Resources is recruiting young people to learn on the job about the different aspects of greenhouse management, composting, and sustainable farming practices. The ideal candidate will be between the ages of 18-25.
The Verde Project is a City of Santa Fe initiative launched by Mayor Javier Gonzales to bring positive change to our community. The Project’s goal is to connect local young people to the economy while helping vulnerable families address hunger, save money, build resiliency, and prepare Santa Fe for the impact of climate change.
YouthWorks is one of a dozen entities poised to receive grant money from what elected city leaders have designated as the Verde Fund, an initiative by Mayor Javier Gonzales to combat climate change and reduce poverty.
YouthWorks is part of a collaborative group working to bring positive change to our community, connecting local young people to the economy while helping vulnerable families address hunger, save money, build resiliency, and prepare Santa Fe for the impact of climate change.
Click here to read more about the New Mexican‘s coverage of this initiative.
Santa Fe, NM – Particularly in the wake of President Donald J. Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the worldwide agreement to combat climate change known as the Paris Accord, local action has moved to the forefront as our best path forward in mitigating the impact of climate change.
Along with the Sustainable Santa Fe Commission, the Climate Action Task Force, Carbon Neutral 2040, and the Climate Mayors Accord commitment to honor the Paris Agreement, the Verde Fund is one of the signature environmental programs this administration has launched to combat climate change, preserve precious natural resources like water, and build resiliency and sustainability into the core of Santa Fe’s way of life.
“The Verde Fund makes sure taxpayer money is put to good use supporting local families who feel like they’ve been left behind – helping working Santa Feans deal with costs of food, water, electricity and other resources that are rising as a result of climate change. At the same time, these dollars can connect families who are out of work to the opportunities that come with an economy finally focusing on sustainability at a high level,” said Mayor Javier M. Gonzales.
“What we do now,” he added, “will set us up for failure or success in future generations.”
Established by resolution 2016-42, the Verde Fund’s mission is threefold: reduce systemic poverty, achieve carbon neutrality, and empower Santa Fe’s workforce, developing resiliency and opportunity in families where unemployment or under-employment are common.
The Council allocated an initial amount of $300,000 for the first round of programs and in December of 2016, city staff began the process of soliciting and reviewing competitive bids from local companies and groups that fit the mission of the Verde Fund as established. Now, after a competitive bidding process that included interviews with finalists by a committee including community representatives and issue staff, the City is proposing, pending a Council review and approval process that will begin on Monday in Councilor Carmichael Dominguez’s Finance Committee, to award two community-led initiatives with funding for the 2017 cycle.
One awardee is a community-wide collaboration among 12 organizations, the Verde Community Impact Collaborative, which includes YouthWorks, the Food Depot, Reunity Resources, MoGro, ProScape, Wildfire Network, Interfaith Leadership Alliance, Dashing Delivery, All Trees Firewood, the Santa Fe Community College and SFPS Adelante Program for Children, Youth and Families Experiencing Homelessness, and the Santa Fe Public Schools District.
The Collaborative will receive $200,000, and partners will contribute an additional $300,000 in-kind, to meet specific goals on the climate and poverty issues that formulate the Verde Fund Mission: food security and greenhouse gas production, home energy efficiency, wildfire mitigation, biofuel reduction and recycling, youth homelessness, job creation and career training.
The Verde Community Impact Collaborative project will:
- Create new jobs and train 40 young people in sustainability careers like weatherization, healthy food production, biofuel reduction and greenhouse management,
- Deliver 750 meals per day featuring local produce to 12 Homework Diner sites,
- Provide 50 boxes of fresh produce to 4 distribution sites that work with families in need,
- Reduce the risk of catastrophic fire in 75 acres of the Santa Fe wildland-urban interface,
- Design a permanent housing pilot with local families to get 4 young people off the street,
- Reduce CO2 emission by 36 tons per year through wildfire mitigation, biomass recycling and energy efficiency/weatherization efforts, and
- Save low-income families hard-earned dollars on utility bills through energy efficiency/home weatherization.
Melynn Schuyler of YouthWorks said, “We’ve set big goals for our community-wide impact project. This collaborative group is ready for the challenge to cause positive change in assisting our community. Our partnership will connect local young people to the economy that they have been traditionally denied entry to, while helping our most vulnerable families address hunger, save money, build resiliency and prepare Santa Fe for the impact that climate change will have on all of us. We’re proud and motivated to work collectively to leverage our strengths through partnership for the benefit of Santa Fe’s families and children and set a high standard in the Verde Fund’s inaugural year.”
The second is a grant in the amount of $100,000 to Homewise, an organization focused on housing and financial health for low income families in the Santa Fe area. The grant award will support 5 years of Solar Opportunity Loan Fund expansion.
Homewise will leverage the initial investment into an additional $400,000 of debt capital, which over 5 years will enable 20 Santa Fe households per year at 80% or less of the local median income to access PV solar systems using long-term, low-interest loans and make energy and water conservation upgrades that will save both resources and money over the life of the homes.
Homewise projects will:
- Reduce CO2 emissions by 89 tons per year through Solar PV installation in each year of the program,
- Reduce CO2 emissions an additional 18 tons per year through efficiency upgrades in each year of the program,
- Save low-income families hard-earned dollars on utility bills, and
- Reach out to the community through the Santa Fe Community College and Christus St. Vincent to locate and qualify the 20 households.
Mike Loftin, Homewise CEO, said, “Partnerships like this one have real potential to change lives and open up worlds of access where it didn’t exist before. Homewise is proud to be working with the City and the Verde Fund, leveraging an initial investment into 5 years of difference-making solar installations on homes for middle class Santa Feans who are eager to save money, conserve water and electricity, and play a vital role in the sustainability of this community we all love.”
The two grant tracks meet all three of Verde Fund’s goals. They invest in our workforce – boosting the solar industry and training more than 40 young people who are out of the workforce in fields that have staying power and give them the tools to make ends meet. They reduce carbon emissions, with targets for each year of the programs that add up to nearly 150 fewer tons of carbon per year in the atmosphere. And they help local Santa Fe families prepare for climate change by eliminating reliance on fossil fuel energy and cutting utility bills.
The combined total of City investment, organizational in-kind matches of $300,000, and Homewise debt capital leverage of $400,000 means that an initial city input of $300,000 will have the effect of $1,000,000 in investment into jobs and sustainability in the neighborhoods where it is most needed.
Mayor Gonzales said, “We couldn’t be more excited about seeing this money have an impact in the community – creating jobs and lowering utility bills while helping increase our community’s sustainability is a win for the whole city, and with the Council’s approval, I’m ready to get to work as soon as possible.”