Today, American Forests announced $100,000 grants through the Tree Equity Workforce Network to three programs that will implement the organization’s Arboriculture Pre-Employment Curriculum.

“These projects mark a watershed moment for equity-centered workforce training, raising the bar on a new national standard,” said Tiffany Mrotek, director of Career Pathways.

In addition to funding that will support operations and training needs for these programs, American Forests will be providing technical assistance and cohort-style learning for grantees. All three program organizations are members of the Tree Equity Workforce Network, launched in December 2022 to facilitate group learning, collaborative problem-solving and provide an open forum for peer-to-peer networking.

Garden Time in Providence, R.I., prepares returning citizens for the workforce through educational programs and green industry job training, equipping formerly incarcerated individuals with the skills and support they need to transition to long-term careers. Through their award, Garden Time will incorporate higher-level technical tree training into their Green Reentry program, create employment pathways for graduates, and develop young tree stewardship and tree care resources.

The Works, Inc. in Memphis, Tenn., prepares program graduates for jobs through Memphis Urban Wood and Memphis Native Tree Works. Through their award, The Works, Inc. will incorporate sawmill, lumber processing and nursery work into the American Forests Arboriculture Pre-Employment Curriculum, employ at least seven full-time positions, assist with job placements at other organizations and provide advanced technical arboricultural training.

Tucson Clean & Beautiful in Arizona addresses pressing environmental challenges including waste reduction, land stewardship, urban forestry and rainwater harvesting. Through their award, Tucson Clean & Beautiful will create an entry-level pre-employment workforce program focusing on climate-vulnerable young adults, prioritizing Native American, Latinx, Black and other Tucsonans on the front lines of extreme heat and climate inequity.

The three grant recipients were selected based on their high quality programming, application of the Pre-Employment Curriculum, deep partnership with communities, integration of participant feedback and consideration of participant experience. These projects all center equity and offer an innovative approach to closing the tree care workforce gap by supporting the growth of new and emerging professionals.

“With $1.5 billion in urban and community forestry funding soon to be implemented through the Inflation Reduction Act, we must have the skilled, equipped workforce in place to work toward Tree Equity where it’s needed most,” Mrotek said. “American Forests is proud to facilitate the Tree Equity Workforce Network and award these geographically diverse grants, building on the first-of-its-kind Pre-Employment Curriculum to better prepare individuals for careers.”

American Forests hopes to issue further rounds of Tree Equity Workforce Network grants in the future. For more information on the Network, visit American Forests’ website.