2022 Grants Challenge

Groupo Verde - Green Team

#GroupoVerde - Green Team is a Workforce Development initiative that acts as the eyes and ears of the Pico Union neighborhood. Whether collecting dumped items, planting parkways, distributing fresh produce or building local pride - our goal is to be a source of light, equity and justice for all.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Income Inequality

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In the 1960s Lyndon Johnson launched his War on Poverty. The plan was to shrink dependence on government handouts and increase people’s ability to support their families. 50 years and $25 trillion later, we are still addressing the same issues, in the same way with systemic poverty worse than ever. Research shows there are two key factors impeding the chance of upward mobility. The first is opportunity - things like home life and a job. The second is quality of life - things like no access to grocery stores, green space, transportation or safe streets. Groupo Verde bridges these two challenges giving people the opportunity to work in their own community at jobs that directly improve the quality of life in their neighborhood. If COVID taught us anything, it is that we are stronger together. The sky is the limit when businesses, politicians, nonprofits, faith groups and government work together to create a more promising and equitable future.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Groupo Verde provides community members with jobs that helps build self-esteem and neighborhood pride that ultimately benefits the entire community. What makes the Groupo Verde initiative so unique is its commitment to empower neighbors to take responsibility for the health and safety of their own immediate community. Currently we serve the area between Pico and Olympic and Union and the Convention Center with the following services: - Collect dumped bulky items that are brought to a 30 yard roll off container supplied by City Sanitation that sits on our property. - The gardening team has planted 100's of new tree wells, replaced dying trees and assumed responsibility to plant and care for street parkways with the support of CD1. - Immediately identifiable with their colorful vests and hats, the Street Team walks the neighborhood with brooms, shovels and wheeled trash cans, cleaning gutters, sidewalks and offering neighbors a warm greeting AND smile. - In partnership with Seeds of Hope and Food Forward we distribute nearly 20,000 pounds of free fresh produce every week at the Vida Sana Farmer's Market. Since February 2021, we also host a weekly COVID clinic with Fulgent and Passport Health. - Collect hundreds of pounds of produce scraps every week that are added to our compost pile and then used in neighborhood gardens. The compost is also available for purchase by the general public with proceeds benefitting the program.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

For generations our city has depended on the government to provide the solutions to societal challenges. Unfortunately the solutions typically benefitted those with means and failed at-risk populations. The need for change was critical. The Pandemic dramatically accelerated the need for change. Tragically, the Pico Union area suffered the second highest number of COVID cases and deaths of any community in Los Angeles. The spread of the virus was attributed to cramped, unsafe living conditions and lack of access to health care. We saw the Pandemic as an opportunity to bring a broken community together through jobs and shared responsibility. Groupo Verde gave people hope, a paycheck and a way to break the cycle of despair and poverty. Similar to the ways in which Neighborhood Watch was successful in engaging affluent communities, we believe Groupo Verde has the potential to build healthy, proud communities in at risk neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

The most obvious evidence of Groupo Verde’s impact can be seen on a drive through the Pico Union neighborhood. Streets that were once littered with trash, graffiti and void of trees, are now flourishing with shade canopy, uplifting murals, banners & trash receptacles. Equally powerful is the neighborhood pride engendered by the workers and the entire community. Encouraged food merchants provide the Groupo Verde workforce and volunteers with free meals every week. Local businesses sweep the sidewalks and water the parkways in front of their storefronts, politicians are proud to visit and Rampart police officers join community cleanups and food distributions. Change is not a destination; it is an attitude with infinite potential. Success is realized when we recognize that each of us can be the change and take charge of our futures.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 20

Indirect Impact: 5,000