Urban Corps will plant 2,000 trees across San Diego County while also training young adults from low-income and underserved communities for the workforce. Cal Fire’s Urban Forest Expansion and Improvement grant program provided the funding for the long term project.
Overall the program will help employ and train about 100 young adults how to plant trees and improve public spaces. Urban Corps said the program aims to assist youth in becoming more employable, while protecting San Diego’s natural resources.
One worker who was part of a group planting 10 to 15 new trees on Wednesday at Bayside Elementary in Imperial Beach said he was glad to be a part of the program.
“It makes me feel like a better person because before this program I was just doing my random thing on the streets. Now coming to this program, it gives me like a sense of responsibility and a sense of urgency that it’s not just because of me,” participant Daniel Maciaz III said.
Urban Corps of San Diego County and its Charter School provide programs for young adults ages 18 to 26 from underserved populations such as job training, adult high school diplomas and life skills training.
“I was homeless in San Diego for about four and a half years and I told myself I need a job. And a friend of mine who actually works for Urban Corps, she told me to come to Urban Corps and they’ll pay you good, you’ll start working, you’ll get your high school diploma, you’ll start school,” Maciaz added.
The program’s funding was made possible by 2018 Proposition 68 which authorized $4 billion in bonds for local environmental projects such as restoration initiatives. The proposition specifically required that 15 to 20 percent of the funds be used for project in communities where the median household income was less than $40,000.
That bond, borrowed by the State of California from taxpayers, will result in a final payoff of $6.53 billion.
The project, entitled, San Diego County Urban Forestry and Arboriculture Project, has seven partners: cities of San Diego, Imperial Beach, Vista, Encinitas and La Mesa along with the Rancho Santa Fe Association and Tree San Diego.
“We are grateful to have been awarded this opportunity from CAL FIRE. This grant will allow for a large increase in tree canopy in the areas of San Diego that need it most, and at the same time our Corpsmembers will be given the opportunity to receive important training in an area that will enhance their opportunities for permanent employment after they graduate from our program.” Said Kyle Kennedy Urban Corps’ Chief Executive Officer.
“Urban Corps has a 30-year history of working on environmental projects, including tree planting, throughout the County of San Diego, and this grant gives us the opportunity to give back in a way that will impact our community for years to come,” Kennedy added.