CHICAGO - More than 250 underserved high school students in Chicago and Philadelphia will enhance local parks, gain important career skills and earn a paycheck through an acclaimed summer jobs program conducted by the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and funded by the Exelon Foundation.
The $150,000 grant announced today brings the Exelon Foundation's total investment in local teens to more than $600,000 since 2012, resulting in summer employment for over 1,000 youth.
"If we're serious about conserving our natural areas and green spaces, we must encourage the environmental stewards of tomorrow," said Steve Solomon, President of the Exelon Foundation. "Our four-year partnership with SCA provides participating students with an effective pathway to environmental leadership and careers. Together, we are committed to building a brighter and healthier future for all."
The nonprofit SCA offers conservation programs in more than fifteen major metropolitan areas across the country in addition to hundreds of national parks, forests and refuges. Its urban initiatives have been cited by the US Conference of Mayors as one of America's top green jobs programs for youth.
Members work in supervised teams restoring city greenscapes, building hiking trails and generating other improvements during summer vacation; they are also provided with environmental education and field trips throughout the school year. SCA Senior Vice President for Programs Lauren Herrin said the combination of hands-on service and job training produces an enduring impact on both the environment and the individual. "In caring for these local lands, SCA members develop a deep commitment to conservation and community," she said. "As they advance into positions of leadership, these young men and women influence policies that lead to a more sustainable world. We're grateful for the Exelon Foundation's support in our collective pursuit of these goals."
Herrin said SCA will engage 150 Chicago high schoolers from diverse backgrounds and another 100 students in Philadelphia. Among other locations, participants will work at Chicago's Dan Ryan Woods, the Forest Preserve of Cook County, Little Village Area, and River Trail Nature Center, and at Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and Wissahickon Valley Green Park.