More vibrant communities with beautiful green infrastructure and “green” summer jobs for youth is the vision of the Alliance newest program in Pennsylvania.  Alliance staff have started planning READY (Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth) in Lancaster City with a strong network of city organizations.  The goal is to have an implementation plan completed by Fall 2016. READY addresses the lack of young adult employment opportunities and the need for stormwater pollution mitigation in communities throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  READY, a collaboration between local organizations and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, employs young adults (ages 16-24) to install rain gardens, assist with tree plantings, and engage community members to improve water quality in the local streams and rivers of urbanized areas.

READY affords young adults meaningful work, an introduction to the emerging green jobs sector, an environmental education, and a springboard for their future career. The result is a strengthened local workforce that can meet the growing demands for low-impact, cost-effective green infrastructure in the watershed. READY is a win for young adults, the local economy, and the environment!

Originating in Maryland, READY has been successful in Howard County since 2012 and, more recently, in Anne Arundel County.  As the program makes its way upstream to Pennsylvania, the Alliance is establishing criteria that indicates if a community is “ready” for READY. The criteria help to identify communities with a foundation of strong, local partnerships (a key ingredient to a sustainable READY program) which will promote its development throughout urbanized areas in the Watershed.  The Alliance’s investigations have revealed some amazing potential for READY programs in Pennsylvania, and the first target community is Lancaster City. The City of Lancaster is a leader in green infrastructure implementation and is known for its rigorous community revitalization efforts and models of green infrastructure in the public eye.  Local leaders are prepared to make green infrastructure the ‘new normal’ for the city.

“Lancaster READY will become a reality when we solidify strong partnerships and create a sustainable funding source. The Alliance is looking forward to this collaboration between Lancaster’s local government, civic organizations, and environmental non-profits to foster the first READY program in Pennsylvania” said Donna Morelli, Alliance PA State Director. Funding for these efforts has been generously provided by an anonymous local foundation to support the Alliance for the Bay’s enthusiasm for bringing READY to Pennsylvania.

Photos courtesy of the Howard County READY program