green economy jobs  youth
Ocean Discovery Institute, a grant recipient. Photo credit: Screen shot, YouTube

The San Diego Foundation has announced $180,000 in grants to local nonprofits to expand access and training for youths aged 16 to 24 who are not in school or working.

The goal is to make them eligible for green industry jobs such as urban forestry, agriculture, solar installation and climate stewardship and advocacy.

The effects of COVID-19 have “amplified existing inequalities,” said Christiana DeBenedict, director of environment Initiatives for the foundation, among youth experiencing social isolation, job loss and other negative impacts from the pandemic.

“This grant opportunity was developed to strengthen the green job pipeline in the San Diego region,” she said.

The foundation, with support from San Diego County, also collaborated with Youth Will and the San Diego Workforce Partnership to build upon the previous grant cycle and attempts to strengthen job development for local youth in need. 

“These investments in a youth green jobs program are an acknowledgment that our economy can’t fully recover until young people recover – and have equitable access to the green economy of tomorrow,” said county Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer.

New grant recipients include:

  • Bayside Community Center – $30,000 to launch a 12-month urban agriculture training program.
  • Climate Science Alliance – $30,000 for outreach to Indigenous youth regarding local green jobs, resources, fellowships and mentoring.
  • GRID Alternatives San Diego – $30,000 to expand a Solar Installation Training Program.
  • I am Green Inc. – $20,000 to hire interns to become stewards and advocates for environmental justice and climate equity.
  • San Diego Canyonlands – $30,000 to provide comprehensive, environmental paid job training while supporting local urban open spaces.

The foundation also provided additional funding to the initial green jobs grant recipients, including:

  • Casa Familiar – $20,000 for paid internships in environmental justice and for community outreach to raise awareness and provide education for green jobs and careers.
  • Environmental Health Coalition – $10,000 to expand the environmental justice and advocacy internship in Barrio Logan.
  • Ocean Discovery Institute – $10,000 to continue environmental science and conservation career mentoring in City Heights.

report published by the Workforce Partnership estimated that there are 417,000 people in the San Diego region between 16 and 24 years of age, with 31,000 categorized as “opportunity youth,” or those who are not in school or working.