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NYC Announces Winners of First Ever Innovative Nonprofit Awards

With Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (right) in City Hall are Lisbeth Shepherd (center), the Executive Director of Green City Force and Wesley Booker, a program graduate
First Place Awarded to Clean Energy Corps, a Youth Job Training Program Bringing Green Initiatives to NYCHA Communities

The winners of the first ever NYC Innovative Nonprofit Awards, which support pioneering local nonprofits that exhibit creative approaches and exemplary program implementation was awarded to Green City Force’s Clean Energy Corps (GCF) for First Place. GCF is a program that propels young New York City Housing Authority residents toward employment or college by combining a national service model with job training.

“These organizations have proven records of improving lives in their communities, helping set New Yorkers on a path toward greater economic mobility,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “New York City continues to invest in innovative solutions to difficult challenges, and we are committed to supporting nonprofits that are doing the same.”

GCF’s Clean Energy Corps engages NYCHA residents between the ages of 18 and 24 on six-month environmental projects to educate on sustainability issues and provide critical work experience. Clean Energy Corps teams led the construction of Planters Grove at Lillian Wald Houses in 2011, an 8,000 square foot green space featuring a storm water irrigation system.

“Green City Force taught me how to fight against global warming and how to use the knowledge and skills provided to become successful in the green economy,” said Wesley Booker, a Green City Force Corps Summer 2012 alum and resident of Drew-Hamilton Houses. “The Clean Energy Corps empowers New Yorkers living in lower-income apartments to decrease their carbon footprint, giving them compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), more energy-efficient refrigerators and low flow shower heads.”

Green City Force has produced a 78 percent graduation rate and a 65 percent job placement rate. On average, participants have achieved a full grade point increase in math or English. Following a two-week orientation, participant teams mobilize on community projects focused on energy efficiency, green infrastructure or urban agriculture. Each Friday is devoted to Green City Academy, a classroom component where participants learn environmental science, intensive math, career development, and technical skills. The program offers intensive follow-up over two years after graduation.

“Before I was introduced to Green City Force I was unemployed with two small kids, and getting nowhere,” said Mr. Booker. “I found GCF through NYCHA while searching for work. At the information session I learned about environmental sustainability and knew this was the next step I wanted to take in my life. After I graduated from GCF, they connected me with Community Environmental Center, where I work now.”

Located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Green City Force serves NYCHA youth who hold a GED or high school diploma but may lack the job skills, work experience or academic performance to secure career-track employment. Launched in 2009, Green City Force supports some of the key goals of PlaNYC—New York City’s sustainability blueprint. Clean Energy Corps has served as a model for Americorps’s national Clean Energy Service Corps, and has presented at the Clinton Global Initiative.

A total of $30,000 in cash prizes, funded by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and awarded by the Center for Economic Opportunity, went to first and second place winners to expand successful programs, improve data infrastructure and evaluation analytics, foster new collaborations or enhance promotional and enrollment materials. The winners were chosen after 10 finalists were reviewed by the 2013 NYC Innovative Nonprofit Awards Selection Committee. Chaired by Center for Economic Opportunity Executive Director Morse, the Selection Committee was composed of academics, City officials, and national nonprofit and philanthropic leaders.

Join the Green City Force
NYCHA’s Department of Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability (REES) is continuing its strong partnership with the NYC Green City Force (GCF) by again recruiting young residents for GCF’s Clean Energy Corps. Up to fifty qualified NYCHA residents will be selected for the next class, which begins in mid-August 2013. Green City Force provides young NYCHA residents with training and leadership opportunities related to greening the economy. To date, approximately 100 NYCHA youth have graduated from the program.

Since its founding in 2009, Corp Members have helped reduce the carbon footprints of thousands of New Yorkers through energy reduction projects, fresh food gardening, opening a new park on public housing property and conducting outreach activities to educate and engage low income communities citywide, helping residents save hundreds of dollars in energy costs. Residents between the ages of 18-24, who have a high school diploma or GED, and will not enroll in college this fall, can call the REES Hotline at 718-289-8100 to register for an information session. Learn more about REES services to NYCHA residents and GCF at