As an outgrowth of a program developed by the National Park Service, the Groundwork programs in the U.S. evolved from a model developed in the U.K. In 1996, the National Park Service launched this program into three pilot communities, Bridgeport, CT., Lawrence, MA., and Providence, RI. Since that point in time, the program has expanded into more in-need cities.
10 years ago a number of members local organizations, agencies, and individuals began to advocate for a trust in Fall River and in New Bedford. In time a small committee was formed to discuss the possibility of establishing a Groundwork Trust in south eastern Massachusetts. In 2016, through partnership of the National Park Service, Groundwork Lawrence, the city of Fall River and the City of New Bedford- GWSC was designated a Groundwork Trust. With this designation, the Groundwork Southcoast Steering Committee received funds and technical assistance from the NPS and EPA to prepare a Feasibility Study and Strategic Plan assessing whether or not Groundwork was appropriate for our community. The feasibility plan was approved and an Executive Director was hired in February of 2017.
Groundwork Southcoast (GWSC) has been launched for just over a year. In this time we had a successful first Green Team comprised of youth from Fall River and New Bedford. These youth were paid employees who helped to revitalize open spaces and engage community residents to utilize these spaces. GWSC has an 88% retention rate in this program and provided at least 1230 hours of work to 16-19 year olds. In 2018 GWSC expanded to provide volunteer engagement to over 100 volunteers, launched a second summer Green Team in New Bedford for 15 youth and launched both food access and urban trails components to our work. GWSC has also built collaborations with many different partners and is in the process of launching a school year Green Team program in November 2018 as well as more volunteer opportunities in 2019.