DOI / VISTA Team Projects

Groundwork Richmond

Sandra Flores

DOI / VISTA: Sandra Flores
Supervisor: Sarah Calderon
Address: 210 Washington Ave. Suite B, Richmond, California 94801
County: Contra Costa County
Voice Telephone: 510-847-5031
Web site:
Congressional District: 11
Bureau: National Park Service (NPS)


The mission of Groundwork Richmond is to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement and management of the physical environment by developing community based partnerships which empower people, businesses, and organizations to promote environmental, economic, and social well-being. 

Groundwork Objectives:

  • Increase the capacity of communities to improve and care for their local environment.
  • Reclaim vacant and derelict lands for conservation, recreation, and economic development.
  • Clean up and care for neglected areas to signal community pride and rejuvenation.
  • Return brownfields to economically productive use while restoring blighted landscapes with healthy environments.
  • Integrate environmental education and job training into projects it undertakes.
  • Engage business, government, non-profits, and communities to work together for sustainable environmental care and enhancement.
  • Support business, nonprofit, government and community efforts to improve their local environment.
  • Raise the profile of urban environmental improvements as part of a comprehensive approach to smart growth strategies and rejuvenation of inner city communities.
  • Ensure projects look as good or better in five years as they do on the day of completion.

In addition to funding resources, the National Park Service provides technical assistance in helping us deliver our programs. We have been the beneficiary of a Groundwork Fellow, paid for by NPS and receive regular feedback in helping us develop our local programs. NPS also is an advocate in helping Groundwork Richmond find other funding sources to help build our programs.


About the Surrounding Community

Richmond is home to some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in California. Richmond is primarily made up of minority communities with of 39.5% identifying as Hispanic and 25.9% identifying as African American. The residents in these neighborhoods suffer from high rates of unemployment, poverty, pollution, obesity, and a propensity for youth violence. Youth unemployment in Richmond is pervasive, especially among African American and Latino youth. The statewide rate of unemployment among youth is 34.3% for youth between the ages of 16-19. The neighborhoods which GWR focuses its work, the Iron Triangle, Santa Fe, and Coronado neighborhood has an average income of $43,000 with more than 30% living below the poverty line and 9.2% unemployment. Residents in Richmond have endured decades of environmental pollution from the nearby interstate freeways, railways, and industrial activities; and as a result, they suffer from high levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

While the media is busy focusing on gang violence, poverty, foreclosure, pollution, and other challenges in Richmond, little attention is focused on the many young people and organizations doing a tremendous job to improve Richmond in all facets of life – the environment, schools, the arts, and parks. Groundwork Richmond works with a core group of high school students, the Green Team in addressing some of these issues by engaging them in service-learning projects such as tree-planting and stewardship of the Richmond Greenway. Additionally, our projects create pathways to job opportunities and college.

Groundwork Richmond is a new organization and in order to effectively implement the mission needs to build organizational capacity. The DOI/VISTA is necessary to help us build and implement programs and build our capacity by developing organizational and financial resources. Currently there are only two staff members and the DOI/VISTA leverages the capacity of the organization to achieve its goals. 


Project Overview

DOI/VISTA Lorenzo Plazola works with Groundwork Richmond's greening projects focused on putting young people to work in the identified low-income neighborhoods most impacted by climate change issues. The project’s greening activities assist with reducing local air particulate levels from industrial activities in the neighborhoods and help to filter pollutants from water running off local streets. The goals of Groundwork Richmond’s projects are 1)to develop a viable career and/or college pathway to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, 2)engage and educate neighbors about the benefits of greening activities and 3) to improve our local environment. The outdoor experiential classroom provides youth at Groundwork Richmond with leadership skills, practical business skills, job skills, and physically transforms the neighborhoods in which they live.

Sponsors and Partners

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