Twenty years ago, a group of community leaders came together to address the gap in engaging residents in community-based solutions to environmental issues in our metro area. When the founders incorporated Groundwork Denver in 2002, they did not know that their legacy would live on in a world where environmental justice is front and center in our fight for equity in the environment.
As a community-driven organization, we have learned to be adaptable to the changing needs and issues of our communities. After two decades of work, and two decades of change, we felt that it was time to re-evaluate and re-focus on who we are as an organization. Through a widespread, inclusive process with community leaders, partner agencies, staff, and board, GWD (Groundwork Denver) embarked on a new strategic planning process in 2021 with the support of an anonymous funder. While we are still completing the process, we have taken the first crucial step to revise our mission statement to better reflect who we are as an organization today.
Groundwork Denver partners with youth and community to build a healthy, equitable, and sustainable environment.
While each word in this mission statement brings value to our work, I would like to lift up a few and share why they are important to us.
Youth: The youth we partner with are front and center, both within our organization and our programs, as well as in our mindset and our dreams. While youth are indeed part of our community, we felt it was important to highlight their unique role and perspective, as their voices truly guide our work. In 2007, we started our Green Team program by employing 8 youth. Now, we are dreaming big and incorporating pathways within our organization, and with our partners, for meaningful green jobs into careers for youth and young adults ages 13-25+. An integrated approach is only possible with every staff and board member believing that our youth are our most important asset.
Community: Groundwork Denver aims to center community voice in all our work. Without truly understanding or being part of the neighborhoods we work in, setting goals without community-centered input would only result in the perpetuation of the injustices that have led to where we are today. Community members know best what they need and deserve. We aim to support their resource needs to meet their own goals.
Partnerships: We partner with others in every single program and activity that we do. We have more than 100 partners each year, from neighborhood-based groups to non-profit, public, and private sector organizations. While sometimes we lead the partnerships with our technical or knowledge expertise, other times we are learning from other experts in our community.
In this, our 20th year, we have an opportunity to celebrate where we have come from, and to get excited about all that is ahead of us. We strive to continue to be the best advocates and community partners we can be. I invite you to share in our passion, get excited, and join our journey!