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.
The Community Science team is working with Groundwork Trusts and staff to develop a theory of change and logic model for the program. Community Science is also helping five Groundwork Trusts pilot an evaluation design and measurement framework designed to assess the impact of the Green Team programming. The evaluation team has engaged with GWUSA and Trusts staff using a collaborative learning process to ensure that the evaluation design reflects common cross-site outcomes and indicators of the Green Team program while acknowledging and incorporating the local nuances of each of the Trusts’ approaches to the Green Team model. Based on the information gathered during the pilot, Community Science will develop a finalized evaluation practices guidebook that can be used across any of the Trusts’ sites for performance monitoring and evaluation. The finalized evaluation practices guidebook will be presented at a workshop during Groundwork USA’s fall 2018 convening.