CSC, Community Development students develop "Green Neighborhood Tool Kits"

A young community member lends a shovel during a volunteer day hosted by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Temple University Ambler students are helping Philadelphia neighborhoods become more sustainable thanks to a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation.

The Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple University received $25,000 to develop “Green Neighborhood Tool Kits” and train community-based organizations serving Philadelphia low-income neighborhoods “to educate and empower residents to take actions that improve sustainability,” said Dr. Lynn Mandarano, Associate Professor in the Department of Community and Regional Planning at Temple and a Research Fellow with the Center.

“This spring, we are offering the Community Development capstone course for the first time,” said Dr. Mandarano. “It was our goal to ensure that the course would be service-learning based and benefit local communities.”

Dr. Mandarano said the Center is partnering with the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation for the project.

“The New Kensington Community Development Corporation is implementing a model our students will be working from. The goal of New Kensington’s ‘Sustainable 19125’ program is to make the zip code the most sustainable in Philadelphia, she said. “The development corporation trained ‘Green Guides’ and literally went door-to-door for education and outreach. It has been a very successful model that we believe can be replicated in other communities.”

According Mandarano, Temple students have customized the ‘Green Guides’ initiative for new community partners, creating “Green Neighborhood Tool Kits.” The Philadelphia Water Department is providing rain barrels; PECO will provide CFL bulbs; and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will provide street trees to support the effort, she said.

“Our students are training volunteers, giving them a greater sense of what it means to be sustainable and what can be achieved at the neighborhood level,” she said.

Students, with support from the Wells Fargo Green Team and neighborhood volunteers, will be working with People’s Emergency Center on Saturday, April 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 42nd Street and Lancaster Avenue to plant trees, provide yard trees to neighborhood residents and lead children in transforming reclaimed bricks into decorative planting bed borders.

On Saturday, May 2, from 11 to 2:30 p.m., students will work with the Asociacion Puertorriquenos En Marcha to create a “green fence” for a vacant lot at 6th and Diamond streets. Recycled shipping pallets will be painted and planted with green roof/green wall plants.

“At the end of this effort, there should be measurable improvement in the environmental performance of these neighborhoods as sustainable initiatives are put into practice throughout the communities,” Mandarano said. “This is a terrific opportunity to partner with Wells Fargo on a project that educates both our students and the community. They will learn the basic science of sustainability and approaches to quantify and calculate improvements in neighborhood environmental performance.”

The Center grant was one of fifty-four grants announced by Wells Fargo & Co. totaling $3 million to organizations nationwide working in the areas of land and water conservation and energy efficiency.

The grants were awarded through the Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities program, a five-year, $15 million initiative launched in 2012 that is part of a $100 million commitment by the company to environmental nonprofits and university programs. Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the initiative funds a wide variety of projects including sustainable agriculture and forestry, conservation of land and water resources, energy efficiency and urban infrastructure, and community outreach and environmental education.

“We believe that helping our communities become more resilient and better stewards of the environment will improve the long-term quality of life of our customers and team members,” said Mary Wenzel, Wells Fargo’s director of environmental affairs. “We’re proud to support these hard-working nonprofits with both grant dollars and support from our local employees, who volunteer their time and efforts through our 70 green teams.”

Photo provided by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.