Posted on April 30, 2010
North Richmond residents hope
to win funding for eco-academy to boost community
Posted: 04/30/2010 01:14:03 PM PDT
Updated: 04/30/2010 05:52:15 PM PDT
Little League is making a comeback in North Richmond. The
Third Street ballpark is freshly renovated. A plan to turn
vacant lots into community gardens is taking root. Recent activities
in North Richmond are buoying hopes of pulling the community
out of a debilitating cycle of blight, crime and poverty. And
residents are eager to keep the momentum alive.
More than 250 have signed petitions or submitted letters backing
a proposed eco-academy that would target young adults ages
18 to 27 and train them for jobs. They would reinvest their
earnings in their community, sparking economic development.
"We want to break the cycle so kids will be positive
contributors to the community instead of negative detractors," proponent
Saleem Bey said. "In 10 years, our community will be a
different kind of community."
The eco-academy is one of nine projects vying for funding
from the North Richmond Waste and Recovery Mitigation Fund,
where the West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill transfer station
deposits about $600,000 a year to offset the impact of its
A county report indicates $950,000 was carried over from the
2006 and 2007 budgets, and an estimated $1 million remains
from the 2008 and 2009 budgets.
According to the application groups complete for funding,
$400,000 is available for local projects this year.
A seven-member committee of county and city officials and
local residents meets Monday to adopt a two-year budget. The
county board of supervisors and Richmond
City Council have final say, though
both have historically approved what the committee recommends. "We want to make
sure the money is spent wisely, that there's oversight and
reporting back," said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin,
who sits on the committee. "Is it something that can stretch
The programs seeking funding are:
Urban Tilth's Lots of Crops gardens, which grow food on otherwise
vacant lots: $307,023
The Neighborhood House of North Richmond's eco-academy: $237,050
Social Progress Inc.'s campaign to remove trash, mow lawns
and remove blight: $143,100
Verde Elementary School garden and other blight removal: $14,000
Center for Human Development's tree planting, trash abatement
and youth education on environmental stewardship: $133,400
Harold Beaulieu's art and murals project at Verde Elementary
and questionnaire on local safety: $38,947
The Watershed Project's campaign to reduce illegal dumping,
which includes picking up trash and teaching children in the
schools about litter prevention and taking care of creeks:
Athletes United for Peace's digital technology academy to
teach broadcast media production: $47,175
Golden Gate Audubon Society's environmental stewardship program:
$40,000 The eco-academy is one of the proposals winning community
County-owned public housing units that are vacant would be
refurbished into the academy's headquarters and classrooms.
The academy would feature a learning lab with computers, high
school equivalency classes and tutoring; an ecology division
for restoration, agriculture, landscaping, green roofs and
water treatment training; a green construction program; and
a technology component focusing on energy efficiency.
Students who finish the training would be awarded industry-recognized
certifications that would help them get jobs and a steady income.
The Neighborhood House of North Richmond would head the project
in collaboration with other agencies. The county Housing Authority
and Office of Neighborhood Safety would identify the first
set of students, and officials hope word-of-mouth would draw
Cynthia Barron, who founded the Verde Elementary School Coffee
Club to engage parents, supports the plan.
"We want our own people to have more employment, job
opportunities," Barron said. "There are a lot of
changes going on in North Richmond. People who live there for
years are still here and they're trying their best."
Katherine Tam covers Richmond. Follow her at Twitter.com/katherinetam.
IF YOU GO What: North Richmond Waste and Recovery Mitigation
Fee Joint Expenditure Planning Committee will meet to approve
a budget. When: 2 p.m. Monday Where: City Council chambers,
440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond more information:The agenda,
staff reports and proposals submitted by groups seeking funding
are at www.cccounty.us/index.aspx?nid=1874