Healthy Communities

Everyone deserves a healthy community


Groundwork Trusts share the core value that everyone deserves a healthy community. By creating and promoting healthy infrastructure in long-disinvested neighborhoods — high quality parks and green space, off-road trails, community gardens, sidewalks, bike lanes, and trees — Groundwork Trusts aim to encourage active living and healthy eating,  improve quality of life, and achieve better health outcomes for all residents, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, age, gender, or ZIP code.

  • Promoting Healthy Food & Urban Agriculture
  • Advancing Active Mobility
  • Creating Parks, Greenways & Open Space
  • Fostering Climate Resilience
  • Advocating Urban Forestry

Promoting Healthy Food & Urban Agriculture

Groundwork Hudson Valley Youth Farm Team members selling produce at the youth-run Get Fresh Yonkers Farmer’s Market

Finding nutritious, high-quality food is a serious challenge in many of the low-income urban and rural neighborhoods and communities of color where Groundwork Trusts work. While poorly stocked corner stores and fast food outlets are plentiful, sources of affordable fresh produce are often few and far between. In communities struggling with high rates of obesity and nutrition-related chronic disease, Groundwork Trusts increase access to affordable, locally grown fruits and vegetables and healthy food choices through a wide variety of programs, including community and school gardens, urban farms, local and mobile farmers markets, community supported agriculture shares, healthy corner store campaigns, and culturally relevant nutrition and cooking classes.

Advancing Active Mobility

Groundwork Indianapolis Green Team biking to the White River Trail
Groundwork Indianapolis Green Team biking to the White River Trail

Communities across the country are realizing that investment in pedestrian- and bike-friendly infrastructure can meet multiple bottom lines: improving air quality, increasing business district livelihood, and nurturing healthier communities. By working with neighborhood residents to create urban greenways, increase safe biking and walking infrastructure, and encourage alternatives to driving, Groundwork Trusts support communities in becoming more physically active and pursuing healthier and more environmentally sustainable transportation alternatives.

Creating Parks, Greenways & Open Space

Working on the Richmond, CA Greenway. Photo courtesy Groundwork Richmond.
Working on the Richmond, CA Greenway. Photo courtesy Groundwork Richmond.

Groundwork Trusts operate in neighborhoods that are often over-served by vacant lots and abandonment, illegal dumping, contamination, and other blight, and underserved in terms of quality parks, trails, greenways, and other healthy living infrastructure. Hand-in-hand with local residents, Groundwork Trusts reclaim vacant, contaminated, or underutilized public lands, transforming them into valued community assets, including pocket parks, greenway trails, gardens, recreation facilities, and nature preserves.

Through Groundwork Denver’s successful Take Charge! program and Porch Bulb Project, Student Energy Ambassadors connect door-to-door with Denver’s hard-to-reach low-income and elderly residents, providing strategies to reduce energy usage and energy bills. And through its Heat Resiliency project, Groundwork Denver is developing an action plan with low-income residents to reduce the disproportionate negative health impacts of more frequent and severe extreme heat events.

Increasing access to green space and parkland encourages physical activity and helps redress health equity issues in marginalized neighborhoods experiencing sustained disinvestment. Planning and creating more safe spaces to gather, play, and relax helps improve the health of Groundwork community members and spurs all kinds of additional community benefits, including increased civic engagement, youth development, and job training opportunities, enhanced urban aesthetics and safety, and more attractive environments for residents and businesses.

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Fostering Climate Resilience

Groundwork Providence stommwater management trainees complete rain garden
Groundwork Providence stommwater management trainees complete rain garden

Groundwork Trusts are based in low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color which are hardest hit by the health and economic impacts of our changing climate. Across the Groundwork USA network, they are taking innovative community-based approaches to lessen the effects of global climate change and increase local climate resilience.

At the confluence of the Saw Mill and Hudson Rivers in downtown Yonkers, NY, Groundwork Hudson Valley operates Science Barge, a floating demonstration urban farm. Run entirely “off the grid” using renewable solar- and wind-energy sources, Science Barge grows fresh food in a greenhouse with no pesticides, no runoff, and zero net carbon emissions.

Several Groundwork Trusts are also developing innovative green infrastructure projects to build climate resilience and strengthen public health in their communities. Groundwork Milwaukee is training community teens and young adults to build rain gardens and install rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff and prevent the flooding caused by more frequent and severe storms. The Groundwork New Orleans Building Climate Resilient Communities project teaches students to design, build, and install solar-powered charging benches on or near bus stops, providing community members with clean energy to use during daily commutes and during emergency power outages. And in Rhode Island, Groundwork Providence is building a new and lasting force for neighborhood-led change by training young adults in green infrastructure and stormwater management construction.

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Advocating Urban Forestry

Groundwork Bridgeport students planting trees as part of Bridgeport's Adopt A Tree program
Groundwork Bridgeport students planting trees as part of Bridgeport’s Adopt A Tree program

Trees add incredible value to life on Earth. In urban settings, in particular, trees play an especially important role by reducing the “heat island” effect in over-paved cities, improving air quality and reducing asthma rates, providing shade and respite, buffering noise, lowering heating and cooling costs, capturing stormwater, adding beauty and value to homes and other property, and much more. From the TREE SMARTS youth curricula of Groundwork Bridgeport, to Groundwork Richmond (CA)’s Adopt-a-Tree program to improve tree coverage in underserved urban neighborhoods and Groundwork Providence’s first-in-the-country brownfield-to-tree nursery project, Groundwork Trusts across the country are leading efforts to increase urban tree canopy and grow the next generation of urban forestry advocates.