Press Release: New Workforce Opportunities for Youth and Unhoused Residents

New Workforce Opportunities for Youth and Unhoused Residents as Nonprofits Improve Maintenance of San José’s Guadalupe River Park
Valley Water grant enhances stewardship of downtown park as Guadalupe River Park Conservancy partners with workforce development programs serving young adults and unhoused individuals. 

Three local nonprofits begin a new partnership in the Guadalupe River Park to remove trash, clean up the trail, and provide outreach to unhoused residents. The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy (GRPC), San Jose Conservation Corps + Charter School (SJCC+CS), and Downtown Streets Team (DST) initiated a two-year pilot initiative in February to address ecological concerns in the park around litter while incorporating workforce development opportunities for youth and people experiencing homelessness. The pilot was catalyzed through an initial investment by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) as part of their Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection program. This follows a strained period where public services were reduced, volumes of trash increased, and traditional methods of providing social and park services were impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program is designed to provide grant funding for innovative programs like this,” said Tony Estremera, Chair of the Valley Water Board of Directors.  “While the past year has been a challenge, Valley Water will continue to partner with the community to keep our creeks clean and assist the unhoused population.”
A team will be present within the park five times a week, maintaining and cleaning up trails, providing outreach and trash bags to unhoused park residents, and reporting illegal dumping concerns. SJCC+CS will support landscape maintenance, trail safety patrols, and incident reporting. DST will lead trash removal and homeless outreach. GRPC will host regular volunteer cleanup workdays and coordinate maintenance efforts with other nonprofits and public agencies in the Guadalupe River Park area.
"This is a great opportunity for additional resources to support the maintenance and condition of the GRP," says San Jose District 3 Councilmember Raul Peralez. "The Guadalupe River Park is an asset in our City and cross-sector partnerships such as this one not only help to restore the park, but allow it to thrive."
“I've really enjoyed working outdoors during the pandemic, helping clean up the place and doing something for the community,” says Aleta Kerrick, a regular volunteer at the Guadalupe Gardens. “Lots of people from all these different organizations working together to take care of the park - that will be wonderful! I'd love to see the park become a place everyone loves to visit.”
This pilot project is an expansion of GRPC’s Urban Park Stewardship program, which aims to improve park maintenance, reduce trash and pollutants from entering our river, promote civic engagement and environmental awareness, and improve overall quality of life. The program also includes volunteer opportunities for neighbors and businesses, helping to build partnerships between the City of San josé and local stakeholders and encourages collaboration with community groups such as the Rotary Club of San Jose, UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, and South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition. Community engagement as well as the impact of the project will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.
“It’s exciting to see the Conservancy and our nonprofit and public partners come together and creatively reimagine what park stewardship could be, and how we can ensure more people benefit and contribute,” says Marguerite Lee, GRPC Board President. “I believe this is just a start of more partnership-driven park stewardship initiatives.”
The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy provides community leadership for the development and active use of the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens through education, advocacy, and stewardship. The Guadalupe River Park is a three-mile ribbon of parkland that runs along the banks of the Guadalupe River in the heart of downtown San josé. Key park assets include the Rotary PlayGarden, Heritage Rose Garden, and the River Trail that connects downtown San José to the Bay Area waters.
San Jose Conservation Corps + Charter School develops the personal, professional and academic skills of young adults in Silicon Valley to prepare them for a family-sustaining career. Corpsmembers in the workforce development program gain skills in green-collar jobs while students at the Charter School receive personalized attention to earn their high school diploma. Corpsmembers complete projects in natural resource conservation, zero waste operations, tiny house construction and emergency services, contributing to a more resilient community and environment.
Downtown Streets Team (DST) builds Teams that restore dignity, inspire hope, and provide a pathway to recover from homelessness.  We do this by engaging people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness in a program which builds community, helps people work towards self-sufficiency, and achieve a higher quality of life through obtaining permanent employment and sustainable housing.  On the surface, DST seems simple, but as we understand the root causes of each individual’s homelessness and the barriers preventing them from regaining the purpose in their life to achieve self-sufficiency, we know that the issues and solutions are much more complicated.  In the 16 cities in which we operate throughout the Bay Area and across Northern and Central California, DST provides support and connects individuals to the resources needed to make steps out of homelessness. We have been recognized as one of the most innovative and effective non-profits fighting homelessness in California.
Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's nearly 2 million residents. Valley Water effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.


San Jose Conservation Corps Members after collecting trash. Credit: San Jose Conservation Corps + Charter School

A Downtown Streets Team Member poses with "Children at Play" public art. Credit: Downtown Streets Team



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