Giving Compass’ Take:
• The Urban Growers Collective is a nonprofit managing community gardens in urban spaces that foster young people’s involvement in environmental justice work.
• Are there opportunities to join a community garden in your local area? Where can more young people access education about environmental justice?
Kennedy Woodfork isn’t afraid of bugs or dirt like some 15-year-olds. In fact, she’s spending her summer pulling weeds, harvesting her own tomatoes, and otherwise caring for a community garden in Grant Park.
Woodfork is one of 18 students in the new tour guide program at Urban Growers Collective, a nonprofit managing eight gardens, mostly on the South Side of Chicago. The camp teaches students about everything from gardening and compost to food justice and the agriculture industry — all in the center of downtown Chicago.
And as students go through the program, they spread the word by giving tours of the garden to curious tourists.
For Woodfork, her newfound love for gardening and her passion for a big city like Chicago are not mutually exclusive. She said she’s excited to showcase her work on her tours to convey the two together.
The tour guide program is a part of the decade-old partnership between the Urban Grower’s Collective, formerly Growing Power, and After School Matters, one of Chicago’s most visible programs for teenagers in the summer. The curriculum, designed by Urban Growers, uses the garden as a vehicle for teaching about advocacy, environmentalism, and public speaking. As a part of After School Matters, students are also paid for their participation, removing barriers for students who need summer income.
As Chicago leaders wrestle with how to improve outcomes for city youth, especially in the summer, these students are engaging with farming even in a dense metropolis. Some students remark they are still learning and struggle to see themselves as advocates. But many now see engaging with environmental justice or agriculture in their future.
Read the full article about growing environmental justice advocates by Catherine Henderson at Chalkbeat.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Environment, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Environment.
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