Changing Places, Changing Lives, Creating Leaders

| Richmond, CA

Groundwork Richmond, established in 2010, is one of 20 Trusts of the Groundwork USA network. The organization has established programs that benefit both the environment and the community in Richmond California, forming strong partnerships with local organizations and agencies to … Continued

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Science to Action: Urban Waters Education

| Los Angeles, CA

In 2013, UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IoES) partnered with LA Waterkeeper (LAW)  on an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant to develop a teaching curriculum for high school students at Jefferson High School in south Los Angeles in order … Continued

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Plaster Creek Stewards

| Grand Rapids, MI

The Plaster Creek Stewards initiative began at Calvin College in 2009 to provide experiential education and a working lab for students. Through several Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grants, EPA Urban Waters grants, support from the Urban Waters community, and … Continued

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Youth Leadership to Solve the Pollution Problem

| Denver, CO

Over the last several years, a diverse group of stakeholders has undertaken a watershed planning effort for the urbanized section of Bear Creek in the Denver metropolitan area. Groundwork Denver is integrating two recommendations integral to the watershed plan: water … Continued

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Groundwork Hudson Valley: Exciting Climate Change Curriculum Launched as Part of NOAA Environmental Literacy Program

Recognizing the need to provide quality climate change curriculum for public high school students in Yonkers, NY, Groundwork Hudson Valley has created a hands-on, multi-visual curriculum that receives high marks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Entitled Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing the Next Generation for a Changing Planet, its development was funded by NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Program, one of only six grants awarded nationwide.

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RiverXchange: New Mexico Students Connect Globally as They Learn about the Rio Grande Watershed

RiverXchange—a school-based program that supports and supplements Common Core and 21st Century Standards—is designed to introduce water resources concepts to young people using a variety of fun methods that integrate writing, math, science, and physical activity. By interacting with models, reading relevant texts, learning from experts, and going on field trips, students learn about watersheds, river ecosystems, and the importance of water conservation. They also learn how to monitor water quality and calculate their own ecological footprints, then internalize these concepts by writing about them in their own words.

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Creative Engagement: Involving Youth in Community Solutions

Three projects from different organizations in the eastern United States are using creative methods to educate students about environmental issues in their communities and to empower urban youth to make a difference.  While the issues that the communities face are varied, each organization is engaging youth to raise awareness and to create solutions.

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Combining Service Learning and Recreation for Stewardship

| New Orleans

Service learning is a powerful tool for connecting people and their communities to local parks and natural areas. To celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, the REI Foundation partnered with the National Park Foundation to fund projects that introduce underserved, inner-city youth to their nearby national parks and engage them in service projects to improve them. The project purpose is to foster stewardship among participants, help them to discover opportunities for outdoor recreation, and instill the value of nature and our nations’ parks—both national and local.

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Urban Waters Civic Action Project

| Los Angeles, CA

Funded by an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) joined with UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IoES), and the LA Waterkeeper (LAW) to form a unique partnership between scientists, public policy professionals, and educators.  Together, they created the Urban Waters Civic Action … Continued

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Reducing Plastic Pollution in an Urban Watershed

| Keyport, NJ

The project will identify, reduce, and prevent plastic from reaching the lower Passaic River watershed and Newark Bay complex. This goal will be achieved through surface water sample collection for microplastics, followed by public outreach and education. Student interns from … Continued

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Saturday Environmental Academy

| Washington, DC

The Saturday Environmental Academy is a free, weekend-based, out-of-school-time environmental education program for 7th and 8th grade students from low-income, urban communities. The goal of SEA is to stimulate interest in and provide a fundamental education about the environment, and … Continued

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Innovative Environmental Education for Watershed Stewardship

| Kansas City, MO

Since its founding in 1996, Blue River Watershed Association (BRWA) has been a leader in designing innovative experience-based environmental education activities to improve the quality of the Blue River watershed and nearby streams. BRWA runs four innovative programs, T.R.U.E. Blue, Macro … Continued

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Creative & Inclusive Community Engagement

| Seattle, WA

The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) is a coalition of ten groups working to promote the health of the Duwamish RIver, a 5.5 mile long Superfund site that flows through Seattle’s Duwamish Valley. DRCC/TAG works to implement effective, meaningful, … Continued

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Community Engagement Improves Water Quality on the Wabash

| Lafayette, IN

The Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC) partners with residents, commercial and industrial entities, local and regional governments, local civic and environmental organizations, and others to protect and improve water quality within the Wabash River watershed. Through initiatives such as the Paint … Continued

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The Emerald Necklace: Connecting the Mountains to the Sea

The San Gabriel River drains a 713-mile watershed in the San Gabriel Mountains, flowing as far south as Long Beach, where it enters Alamitos Bay as a tidal river. It shares its watershed with two other major rivers: the Los Angeles and the Santa Ana.

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Building the Future by Uncovering the Past

Most people are familiar with archeology as a field that explores ancient civilizations by uncovering artifacts. However, archeology has applications in modern urban locations as well. Cities change quickly, and in the process, the lives and stories of residents—and even whole neighborhoods and rivers—can be buried or substantially altered. Archeology can uncover the stories that never made it to the history books, and can also help communities to discover and tell their own stories and histories.

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Youth Engagement on the Rio Grande: A Refuge for the Neighborhood

| Taos, NM

The Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, located in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the first US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) refuge in the Southwest to be designated an “urban refuge.” With funding from the US EPA Urban Waters Program, Amigos Bravos partnered with area organizations to engage youth directly in water quality monitoring in the Rio Grande and adjacent irrigation ditches. Many of the youth had never seen the river before, much less interacted with it.

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Albuquerque youth learn about stormwater and watershed health

Groundwork Elizabeth: Reconnecting the City and the River

| Elizabeth, NJ

The long-term vision for the Elizabeth River Trail project in Elizabeth, New Jersey is to connect people with the natural environment in the most densely populated region of the country. Through signage and service learning events, residents and visitors will learn about ecological restoration plans for the river and become environmental stewards of this valuable resource. Ultimately, the trail will tie into the regional network of greenways already established and under construction.

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Groundwork Elizabeth Green Team students use a recently installed lookout point to view the Elizabeth River. Photo: Groundwork Elizabeth.

Youth and Community Engagement Changes Places and Lives

| Washington, DC

Groundwork Anacostia, a “trust” under the umbrella of Groundwork USA, is based in the District of Columbia’s Ward 7, which has the longest portion of riverbank—including four out of the five tributaries that feed the Anacostia River. The neighborhood has a large amount of green space in the form of National Park Service (NPS) historical preserves, Civil War sites, and city parkland. Groundwork Anacostia’s main focus has been to improve this parkland, as well as local derelict lots and vacant land, in order to improve quality of life and access for neighborhood residents, while also offering innovative education and job training programs for area youth.

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Groundwork Anacostia Green Team youth paddle the Potomac River

The Duwamish Valley Youth Corps

| Seattle, WA

The Duwamish is Seattle’s only river. It is a 5.5 mile long Superfund site that flows through Seattle’s Duwamish Valley – a highly developed urban and industrial center south of downtown. In 2014, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) founded the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps (DVYC) with support from the Forest Service’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership. The DVYC supports environmental improvement projects identified by residents in the Duwamish River Valley. With a focus on urban forestry, river restoration, and green infrastructure, the program is equal parts environmental science, job skills training, stewardship, and hands-­on restoration.

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Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

Reawakened Beauty: Place-Based Learning on the Jordan River

| Salt Lake County, UT

In 2008, many Utah organizations came together to develop a long-range plan for the Jordan River that laid out a vision for a revitalized river corridor. The Jordan River Commission was created to spearhead this plan, and it has been successful in building partnerships with organizations now working together to implement this vision. These collaborations have led to a new public appreciation for the river corridor as a recreational amenity and opportunity for conservation, environmental education, and community building.

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Jordan River, Salt Lake County, Utah. Photo: Jordan River Commission.

River Ambassadors – Future of the L.A. River

| Los Angeles, CA

Youth from different areas in Los Angeles are creating positive change along the LA River through the River Ambassador program; a youth leadership and education program of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). MRCA wanted to try out a program that was focused solely on the LA River and the factors impacting the health of the river. With EPA Urban Waters funding, MRCA was able to make this a reality.

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Earth Force KIC-NET Activity Guide

Keep It Clean – Neighborhood Environmental Trios (KIC-NET) is an educator’s guide to show the relation between water quality and land use with quality of life and environmental health to students.

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Making Space for Monarchs and Students

In 2014 The University of Arizona (UA) received support from the U.S EPA in the form of funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

This funding was used to supplement the restoration efforts conducted through Project WET; a project of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension – Maricopa County. With this NFWF funding, UA was able to weave Monarch Butterfly habitat creation into their existing program.

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Visioning for Green Infrastructure

While ECO-Action serves as the lead for the project there are many partners working together to address stormwater and combined sewer overflow impact on Proctor Creek. Green infrastructure concepts and principals are being infused into the Clark Atlanta University dual engineering courses. This marks a milestone in the efforts led by ECO-Action to increase awareness among faculty, staff, and students about the importance of green infrastructure and the type of positive impacts these practices and principals can have at a local level.

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A Model to Engage Youth

Each model site is a place where neighborhood surface waters (streams and lakes), receives water runoff from storms (stormwater), and becomes an outdoor learning site for investigations and actions by students from nearby schools. Thus Keep It Clean (KIC) – Neighborhood Environmental Trio (NET) means a program focusing on clean water (KIC), each with a school, park (preferably with a recreation center), and an accessible body of water or waterway within a few minutes walk of each other (NET).

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