April 20, 2022


On April 14, 2022, The San Diego Foundation announced that seven local nonprofits will receive $180,000 in grants to develop jobs and other programs to connect opportunity youth – or young people ages 16 to 24 who are not in school or working – to careers in green industries. 

“Thanks to our local nonprofit partners, this program will help opportunity youth develop personally and professionally, while growing the resilience of our local green economy,” said Christiana DeBenedict, Director of Environment Initiatives for The San Diego Foundation. 

A report published by the San Diego Workforce Partnership identified an estimated 417,000 people in the San Diego region between 16 and 24 years of age. Of that group, 31,000 are considered opportunity youth. 

“These grants are the next step in our new countywide initiative to help young people secure the green careers that will define not only their future but the future of our entire region,” said Terra Lawson-Remer, member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “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.” 

Grant funding for the green jobs program was provided by the County of San Diego as part of its Youth Environmental/Recreation Corp launched last year by a proposal from Supervisors Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas.  

Seven local nonprofits each received a grant of $20,000 or $30,000, including three Live Well San Diego Recognized Partners: 

  • Urban Corps of San Diego County to recruit members for its dual work-learning program in Vista, Escondido and Chula Vista and prepare them for employment in green workforce careers 

  • Project New Village to support internships in urban agriculture at Mt. Hope Community Garden in Southeast San Diego 

  • Casa Familiar to engage interns in transportation justice, mitigating transit pollution and greening efforts in San Ysidro and Otay Mesa 

Other grantees include: 

  • Environmental Health Coalition of San Diego to support environmental justice advocacy, community organizing, leadership development and policy advocacy in Barrio Logan 

  • Ocean Discovery Institute to provide a pathway to careers in science and conservation that includes mentoring and career coaching in City Heights 

  • Indigenous Regeneration to support paid farm apprenticeships for Native opportunity youth interested in learning about sustainable farming and regenerative agriculture in Valley Center and San Pasqual 

  • Tree San Diego to educate, incentivize and provide workforce training for careers in urban forestry in Chollas Creek and Mundo Gardens in National City 

The County’s program also includes a partnership with the San Diego Workforce Partnership to support placement of opportunity youth in paid positions with County departments including Parks and Recreation; Planning and Development Services; Public Works; Agriculture, Weights and Measures; Environmental Health and Quality; Library and General Services. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines green jobs as jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, or jobs that workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. In 2021, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst projected that to meet California’s climate goals in 2030 and 2045, the state would need to invest in creating a projected 1 million green jobs.