Ecotrust is a Portland, Oregon nonprofit whose mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity, and environmental well-being. Their goal is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies, and ecosystems in their region and around the world. Through programs like their Green Workforce Academy, the organization prepares youth and adults who come from communities experiencing higher rates of unemployment for labor force opportunities, all while addressing the region’s environmental issues in areas of climate, oceans and fisheries, food and farms, self-determination for indigenous communities and land, and more.
Roots of Success is taught in Ecotrust’s Green Workforce Academy, which serves individuals 18 and older who have earned a high school diploma or GED and are interested in environmental issues and job opportunities. The program prides itself on providing participants with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue jobs and careers in environmental fields. Portland, Oregon is known around the world for its beautiful green belt, and is home to many environmental initiatives. But the city also faces significant challenges related to gentrification and social inequality. Ecotrust is particularly aware of the need to support the Black and Native American communities in the area, who experience much higher rates of poverty and unemployment than other groups. Since 2018, they have graduated 25 students from the Roots of Success course, and they expect that number to rise as they figure out how to offer their program amidst the COVID-19 pandemic going forward.
“Roots of Success has been a great way to ground what we are doing in the field and connect it to student’s understanding of environmental issues and problems,” says Teresa Gaddy, Green Workforce Academy Program Manager. “It is like a base of what we are teaching.” What she loves most, other than getting students into jobs, says Gaddy, “is when you see that light come on when the students make that personal connection to their experience. It is when they go ‘I get this, it makes me inspired, it makes me happy to be thinking about these things and doing this work.’” We are so happy to be partnered with Ecotrust and can’t wait to continue working together in the future. To find out more about Ecotrust, visit their website.