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1/17/2014 - Groundwork Bridgeport Wins Department of Interior’s Prestigious Partners in Conservation Award

Bridgeport, CT– Groundwork Bridgeport, a member of the national network of Groundwork Trusts, is greatly honored that Groundwork has been chosen for the Department of Interior’s 2013 Partners in Conservation award, which recognizes Groundwork USA’s outstanding contribution to conservation nationwide through community engagement and cooperation with local, state and federal partners.

“We are truly honored to have been selected by the National Park Service for the work we have done over the last decade to transform the lives of young people in their own communities and on public lands,” said Rick Magder, Executive Director of Groundwork USA, who accepted the award from the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on behalf of the 19 Groundwork Trusts in the network earlier today in Washington. “We are incredibly proud of our staff at Groundwork Trusts across the country, the partners we have in the National Park Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the young people we reach and mentor to become the conservation leaders of tomorrow.”

Groundwork believes that providing young people with compelling points of entry into the conservation arena is key to ensuring their lasting engagement with the environment, whether as a practitioner or an engaged citizen. Groundwork Trusts engage young people in age-appropriate, hands-on work to transform the built environment, expose them to our public lands and national parks, raise awareness about the critical environmental, economic, and social issues our communities face, nurture civic engagement, and improve quality of life in some of our country’s most challenged neighborhoods.

“Groundwork has helped me take my ideas on how to help my community and bring them to life”, says 17-year old Nautika Drummond, a member of Groundwork Bridgeport’s GroundCorps youth group, “I have gotten to see a big change in the place that I grew up, and enjoyed many new opportunities. Some of the biggest and most important parts of my life are thanks to Groundwork”. Her GroundCorps colleague, 17-year old Mellissa Edwards agreed, “Groundwork has opened my eyes to see the great in the world, it inspired me to do what I love with no regrets. It gave me the most amazing opportunity to work at Yellowstone National Park which has changed my life forever, and because of Groundwork I will always try to help my community.”

In 2012 alone, the Groundwork Trusts in our network worked with 12,694 young people (98% of whom are of minority descent) to restore environmental conditions in 19 low-income and under-served communities. That same year, our Trusts trained and provided paid conservation jobs to over 300 youth from these communities, and established and carried out job training partnerships with National Park units including the Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Minute Man National Park, and National Capital Parks, among others.

Building on the success of those partnerships, a special ongoing youth conservation partnership was established between the Groundwork Trusts and Yellowstone National Park in 2012 (so successful that it was expanded and carried out again in 2013), and Groundwork Bridgeport was honored to have Bridgeport students chosen both years to participate in this innovative youth programming in Yellowstone.

“Congratulations to Groundwork Bridgeport on receiving this honor from the Department of the Interior”, said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, “Groundwork Bridgeport has been an outstanding partner organization to the City’s BGreen2020 sustainability initiative to create jobs, save taxpayers money and fight climate change. I’m proud to work with Jack Dillon and the young people of Groundwork Bridgeport on our mission to make Bridgeport the cleanest, greenest city in the region.”

Groundwork Bridgeport is one of the three (3) original Groundwork Trusts, and will soon be celebrating its 15th year of service to Bridgeport and its citizens – creating new gardens, organizing community projects, and providing youth development opportunities.  Over the past two years alone, Groundwork projects have included:

-          Planting over 1,000 trees and seedlings along with hundreds of shrubs and thousands of flowering bulbs across city parks and neighborhoods

-          Organizing National Public Lands Day events, engaging hundreds of volunteers, to clean parks, plant gardens and repair Hurricane Sandy damage

-          Holding twice yearly (spring and fall) Park City Sweep “clean-ups” which bring together 250-300 volunteers at each event to maintain parks, perform school beautification projects, plant shrubs and bulbs, and conduct targeted neighborhood clean-ups and more

-          Creating, in partnership with the Mayor’s Conservation Corps and the Workplace, a new youth “green job” internship program which provides them with skills and training in horticulture and landscaping, along with resume writing and job search skills, and which completed over 1600 man hours of parks projects for the City

-          Oversaw hundreds of student and volunteer “man hours” of labor, along with tools and equipment, to aid in the construction of a new bioretention system to mitigate stormwater flooding at historic Seaside Village – a project featured in the Nov.’13 edition of LAM, the magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architecture

-          Provided up to 24 student summer internships, and

-           Groundwork Bridgeport was recently honored by the CT Urban Forestry Council with an award for its “Outstanding” urban forestry program.

“A tremendous amount of our success”, said Jack Dillon, Executive Director of Groundwork Bridgeport, “is due to the amazing partnerships we have been able to form across the community, especially with the City of Bridgeport and its Parks Department.  Mayor Finch and his administration have been invaluable allies and supporters of our program.  They believe, as Groundwork’s motto states, that by “Changing Places” we can “Change Lives, and improve and “green” our community to everyone’s benefit”.

Collectively, the Groundwork network leverages its federal investment by 11:1, engages thousands of community volunteers of all ages, conserves miles of water bodies, creates and improves acres of parks and green spaces, transforms brownfields and vacant lots, and produces and distributes tons of healthy foods in communities across the country

For more information call 203-335-6126 or contact:  Jack Dillon,

Groundwork Trusts in the Groundwork USA network:


GW Anacostia DC (

GW Bridgeport CT (

GW Buffalo NY (

GW Cincinnati OH (

GW Dallas TX (

GW Denver CO (

GW Doña Ana County NM (

GW Elizabeth NJ (

GW Hudson Valley NY (

GW Lawrence MA (

GW Milwaukee WI (

GW New Orleans LA (

GW Portland OR (

GW Providence RI (

GW Richmond CA (

GW Richmond VA (

GW San Diego CA (

GW Somerville MA (

GW Guyandotte SWV (

GW Atlanta Steering Committee GA (new)

GW Indianapolis Steering Committee IN (new)

GW Jacksonville Steering Committee FL (new)