Increasingly, it looks like a big part of helping people out of poverty isn’t a hand-out, but a hand up that recognizes the human capital available in our poorer neighborhoods. One program that does this is Greentopia‘s Green Visions program, which provides 22 weeks of job training in the Josana neighborhood during the planting, growing, and harvest season for cut flowers. Members of the Rochester Garden Club recently visited Greentopia’s offices to consider a pitch on a future donation. While they were there, though, they also heard the latest results of Green Visions, which they supported in the past. Though the program creates productive flower gardens one of the most downtrodden sections of Rochester, “ultimately it’s a work development program” Morgan Barry, special projects director, told the garden club. Here are some of the successes he listed:
- 60 percent of the people who participated in summer 2015 secured employment at 12 different businesses when the program was done.
- 94 percent of Green Visions graduates received three types of training and credentials they’ll be able to use to set them apart from other job seekers.
- 80 percent (12 people) of this year’s Green Visions participants began the program without a high school diploma, but a quarter of them earned one while in the program. And half were enrolled in a high school diploma equivalency program during or immediately after their work with Green Visions.
- 15 people completed the program in 2015, representing a retention rate of 87 percent.
- One-third of the 2015 Green Visions participants with high school diplomas are enrolled for the spring 2015 semester at Monroe Community College.
- Flowers were sold directly from the lots, but bouquets also went to Harts grocery store and Wegmans each week, where they typically sold out. The program also sells bouquets at the Rochester Public Market.