Youth engagement strategies produce economic benefits both to the youth and the communities in which they live. Actively engaging youth in their communities strengthens social ties, fosters a sense of community, weakens the cycle of poverty, and inspires youth to achieve. Groundwork USA’s (GWUSA) Green Team program seeks to do just that by engaging high school-age youth from underserved and marginalized communities in environmental education, job training, stewardship, employment, and leadership opportunities. The Green Teams teach youth environmental stewardship and how to transform neglected land into community assets. This work supports the Groundwork Trusts’ larger mission to sustain regeneration, improve, and manage the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships that empower people, businesses, and organizations to promote environmental, economic, and social well-being.

Community Science helped create an evaluation practice for Groundwork USA’s Green Team program. The Green Team model includes 1) youth empowerment and environmental stewardship and 2) efforts to connect residents to their communities. They aim to create a future generation of environmentalists and leaders, representative of United States demographics and who expose issues particular to people of color. Local Green Team communities engage high-schoolers in this youth development program and seek to reclaim and revive environmentally contaminated areas.

Our deliverables included a work plan, theory of change, logic model, evaluation practices and data collection, guidebook, and pilot training. The team’s deep engagement in a collaborative learning process (creating buy-in on the importance of evaluation to each Green Team, listening to nuanced perspectives, understanding the program’s complexity) helped design an evaluation that fits a small organization and measures well. We trained leaders to roll out the evaluation in a pilot involving five Green Team trusts. During the pilot, we provided technical assistance and helped refine the tools thereby building Green Team’s capacity for evaluation, measuring impact, and relaying the impact of its programs. 00534

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