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Graduation of Boston's Inaugural PowerCorpsBOS Cohort Celebrated

This program uses a “learn as you earn” strategy and supports workforce development in fields that address environmental challenges.

Yesterday, Mayor Michelle Wu joined PowerCorpsBOS for a graduation ceremony for its inaugural cohort. This event marked the 21 graduates who have spent the past six months learning about various green industries and skill sets, such as native and invasive plant identification, environmental conservation, parks maintenance, general labor operations, OSHA safety certification, career readiness, and resume writing and interviewing. An ‘earn and learn’ program, PowerCorpsBos pays members to participate in hands-on training and provides them with career readiness support, and connections to employers in the green industry. 

“Building a Green New Deal city means supporting and investing in all aspects of the growing green industry across Boston,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “PowerCorps is a testament to the importance of investing in our youth and providing a vital pathway to enter careers in the environmental and sustainability industry. Congratulations and thank you to our inaugural graduating class!”

PowerCorpsBOS is a partnership that is led by the Cabinet of Worker Empowerment and the Environment Department, in collaboration with Public Safety, Department of Youth Engagement and Employment, and Boston Centers for Youth & Families. The goals of PowerCorpsBOS are to promote workforce development for young people in growing industries while supporting environmental stewardship. Students worked with Boston Housing Authority and UMass Mount Ida Campus to learn skills including tree protection, including pruning, felling, limbing, and bucking. 

PowerCorpsBOS assisted 87 acres of public land, removed 284 bags of invasive material, worked with 18 service project partners, planted 61 trees, underwent 16 hours of tree climbing training, earned three college credits from UMass Mount Ida in Arboriculture, talked to 68 employees in private to public industry, worked with four different city departments, pruned 32 trees, attended International Society of Arboriculture New England chapter conference, participated in 12 hours of mock interviews, and completed 16 hours of financial literacy courses.

City Councilor Kenzie Bok joined the graduation ceremony at the Arboretum. 

“Yesterday’s graduation affirms our city’s commitment to a Green New Deal that not only includes but is led by Boston’s Black and brown youth,” said Councilor Kenzie Bok, District 8. “I am so proud of all of the PowerCorpsBOS graduates, and I will continue to support this program in every way I can as its members grow into our future arborists, urban wild experts, green retrofit specialists, park rangers, and so much more.”

This ambitious training program works to move residents into green jobs after program completion while focusing on training pathways into jobs to protect the environment. The priority of PowerCorpsBOS is to support communities that have been hit particularly hard by the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Priority populations include returning citizens, court-involved residents, youth who have experienced homelessness or housing instability, young people who have been in foster care, and other marginalized communities.

The City of Boston’s green jobs program is inspired by the Philadelphia PowerCorpsPHL model that builds opportunities for young people by tackling pressing environmental challenges and developing the skills required to secure meaningful work. In Boston, the program is designed with “earn and learn” practices to ensure that members enter and succeed in career green job pathways. Members go through specifically tailored phases, in a field of their choosing, that embed service and equity, as well as direct connections to job openings. The program also offers connections to continuing education opportunities, including through the City’s Tuition Free Community College program. 

“I am beyond honored to have had the opportunity to support 21 incredible young people gain new skills to join the green workforce," said Davo Jefferson, Executive Director for PowerCorpsBOS. "I am so humbled to prepare Boston's young people for employment opportunities that will allow them to earn a livable wage and support their families while taking care of the environment.”

“Watching the evolution of the Power Corps members and the staff has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my job,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “ I am so thrilled to congratulate Boston’s first cohort of PowerCorpsBos graduates and I can not wait to see how they support Boston’s fight for climate justice and a Green New Deal.”

“The reason I joined PowerCorps was to find out who I was personally and make an impact on my community,” said Iman Toney.

“I'm glad I was able to pave the way for other women in forestry,” said Jelaine Flores. “In this industry where women are underrepresented however, I'm glad I felt empowered to use my voice. Thank you PowerCorps for allowing me to be heard.”

“I knew that I wanted to find a job that would let me have my hands in the dirt and benefit this community,” said Tafari Wallace.

“This was the first thing I’ve seen through to completion since high school,” said Erica McManus-Lynch. “I have to say the experience has been ethereal!”

The program is now accepting the next round of applications. To be eligible for this program you must: be 18-30 years old; be a Boston resident; have your high school diploma or its equivalent (GED/HiSET); be unemployed or underemployed and not in college or on a career track; have an interest in outdoor, hands-on training. For questions about the program, contact PowerCorpsBOS@boston.gov. This City youth workforce development program was funded with $9 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Recently, Mayor Wu recently announced the City of Boston’s new Forestry Division within the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. The 16-person division will include opportunities for individuals who graduated from PowerCorpsBOS.

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