By Kathy Chouteau
Groundwork Richmond celebrated the graduation of its first Workforce Cohort Thurs., June 29 for Richmond young adults aged 18-25 who participated in the Workforce Development program, according to Workforce Development Director Sarah Calderon. The graduation happened at the Up & Under Pub and Grill, with Mayor Eduardo Martinez making remarks.
Calderon said that the program works with Richmond young adults in the aforementioned age range “teaching skills that lead to green jobs in urban forestry, landscaping, parks maintenance and more.” During the program, nine participants were paid $18 per hour over a 28 hour workweek, while they were allotted extra time to attend school or work another job.
Throughout the program, the Workforce Cohort participants earned certifications in First Aid/CPR, OSHA safety training and Sexual Harassment Prevention, and completed 25 units of International Society Arboriculture (ISA) training toward arborist certification if they “continue working in the field for the next two years,” said Calderon. On top of this work, participants also engaged in workshops surrounding financial literacy, resumes and environmental justice.
As they worked toward their program graduation, Calderon said the Workforce Cohort also did on-the-job training that included field placement planting and attending to trees in Richmond while working alongside the organization’s Urban Forestry Crew. “Field training included tree pruning by a local certified arborist, Stewart Winchester, and Keith Park, of the National Park Service, also a certified arborist,” she said.
Upon graduation, seven of the nine program participants were placed in jobs, while the remaining two will continue working with Groundwork on job placement opportunities. Calderon said the next cohort will launch in September.
“We would like to thank our partners CalFire, City of Richmond and Clearwater,” said Calderon, who added, “We are especially thankful to the Up & Under Family Restaurants for their generosity in sponsoring our graduation event.”