Jan. 16, 2017 11:19 am

Here’s what’s on the horizon for Green City Works in 2017

The University City District nonprofit is all about putting local unemployed residents to work — including those with records.

Changing spaces, changing lives.

(Photo by Flickr user Simon, used under a Creative Commons license)

There’s something beautiful about transformation of self through the transformation of public space, and the notion isn’t lost on folks at Green City Works (GCW).

All the revenue University City District’s (UCD) landscaping nonprofit brings in on contracts with local institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, The Enterprise Center and The Science Center gets funneled into UCD’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative.

The initiative connects unemployed residents to job opportunities in a neighborhood where unemployment is 14 percent higher than the city average. Though GCW is “not a reentry program,” said UCD’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications Alissa Weiss, four of their 10 full-time landscapers have records.

“Green City Works is about employing folks who are unemployed,” said Weiss. “I think the nature of the work of landscaping allows us to bring in and attract people who are formerly incarcerated or have criminal records.”

With 18 clients in a rapidly developing district where partners are increasingly focused on creating green space, 2017 and beyond are looking bright for GCW. Here’s what the nonprofit is looking forward to this year:

  • An expanded contract with University of the Sciences
  • Starting ground maintenance on Brandywine Realty Trust’s Cira Centre
  • Officially starting snow removal services with a “number of clients in the district,” allowing GCW to provide work year-round

Lastly, Weiss said, GCW is prepared to put people to work on a number of public space projects planned for the district, including Schuylkill Yards and uCity Square.

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“Good pay, full-time work, benefits — all uncommon in landscaping,” said Weiss. “We have a really committed 10-person team that takes pride in what they’re doing.”


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