Roots of Success is an empowering environmental literacy and job readiness curriculum that provides individuals facing significant employment barriers with pathways out of poverty by preparing them for living-wage jobs and careers in the green economy. It is the only environmental curriculum designed for individuals with limited academic and work skills. The curriculum increases environmental literacy, strengthens academic skills, prepares people to work in the green economy and improve environmental conditions in their communities.
We focus on the green economy because it is one of the fastest growing economic sectors, provides workers in entry-level jobs with higher wages, better benefits, and greater occupational mobility than entry-level jobs in other sectors, and because the people we serve come from communities heavily impacted by environmental problems. The curriculum responds to the growing momentum and need to promote sustainable development, build livable communities, help institutions shrink their carbon footprints, revitalize local economies, and create livable wage jobs for residents in communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment.
We serve the hardest to employ and most disadvantaged. Among 6,500 graduates, 92% were unemployed when they went through the program; 85% were living below the poverty line; 78% had no high school diploma or GED; 42% were previously or currently incarcerated; on average 4th grade math and 7th grade reading skills.
Roots of Success gets people jobs. We collect extensive impact data, which shows that after going through Roots of Success:
- 97% of graduates have a better understanding of environmental issues affecting their households and communities.
- 86% significantly improved their academic, work, leadership skills, confidence and motivation.
- On average programs are placing more than 50% of graduates in stable, living wage employment – a phenomenal result in an economy where even individuals with high levels of education and strong work histories are remaining unemployed for long periods.
- Graduates are working in every sector of the green economy – energy efficiency, solar installation, HVAC, green building, recycling and resource recovery, water conservation, open space restoration, horticulture, culinary arts, parks maintenance, non-toxic home restorations, deconstruction, marketing and sales in green firms, and environmental education.
Although only three years old, Roots of Success has developed a strong track record of assisting programs that serve unemployed individuals and youth and adults in transition. We work with job training programs and community colleges serving individuals with barriers to employment, correctional facilities preparing men and women in medium and maximum-security prisons for green jobs upon release, high schools and youth programs where many students are testing below grade level, programs that serve people with mental and physical disabilities, community-based organizations working in urban and rural areas where 80% of adults are unemployed or underemployed, and government agencies promoting local sustainability efforts.
Our curriculum is used by the nation’s leading education and workforce organizations including: YouthBuilds, Goodwills, Conservation Corps, Green for All, Vera Institute of Justice, San Francisco Department of the Environment, Departments of Rehabilitation and Corrections, and Departments of Education, and is currently supporting programs in 36 states and three countries. We have also found support from key organizational partners including Full Circle Fund, Green For All, PG&E, Consortium for Worker Education, AT&T, and ACE among others.
Created by Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes, Professor of Urban Studies & Planning at San Francisco State University, and an internationally recognized expert on the green economy and green workforce training, Roots of Success was based on in-depth research with employers in 21 sectors of the green economy. Her Green Job Training Model is used throughout the US and informed the development of the Pathways out of Poverty initiative funded with ARRA dollars. The curriculum provides people with the knowledge and skills employers in the green economy value; skills they need not only to obtain a job but to remain employed and experience some upward mobility over time.
Key features enable Roots of Success to be used by a wide range of programs that include:
- A turn-key curriculum (ready to use “out of the box”)
- Flexible and adaptable – programs can teach as many or few modules as they choose
- A scripted Instructor’s Manual requiring no prior teaching experience
- A DVD with all multi-media and print material
- On-going technical support
- Customized versions (e.g., youth, adults, incarcerated, Spanish-speaking, etc.)
- English/Spanish options
- One day training and certification, instructors trained locally
- Community-of-Practice for certified instructors
Graduates receive a certificate of completion, which is similar to LEED or BPI. The certificate has gained recognition by employers and educational institutions across the country. Employers in NYC’s weatherization industry prioritize job applicants with Roots of Success certificates. The majority of people hired by the SFGo Solar program went through Roots of Success.
Awards & Honors:
The Berkeley Group Spring 2012 selection
Full Circle Fund Grant Partner – 2012 Environmental Circle
2012 AT&T Mobile App Hackathon for Social Good – Best Overall Social Good Challenge App