Green Workforce Academy

A paid opportunity for Black, Native, and people of color in Portland who want to learn more about jobs in the green economy.

Project partners:

   2018 – present

During a debris monitoring field training with Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership and The Blueprint Foundation, 2020 Green Workforce Academy participants canoe through a slough at Kelley Point Park in Portland, Ore. Photo credit: Michelle Pearl Gee

The Green Workforce Academy (GWA) is a five-week paid training opportunity for Black, Indigenous and other adults of color in Portland, Oregon. Through classroom learning and hands-on work experience at field sites, participants learn about the environmental issues that impact their communities and what they need to know to get green jobs that find and implement solutions to those issues.

The Academy aims to be a first step to a career that brings financial stability and improves community health. Participants receive a stipend of $1,770, lunch and transportation assistance, career coaching, and mentorship finding green jobs during the five-week program and beyond. More than 50 participants have completed the program since its start, and there are graduates working in the green sector today. GWA sessions run from May through September, with at least two cohorts offered each year. Portlanders who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color and are at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED/TASC are encouraged to apply.

The Green Workforce Academy has been made possible in part by a grant from the City of Portland, Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund.

Check back soon for 2023 applications.

Two students in full climbing gear, assisted by 2 teachers, learning to climb a tree

2022 Green Workforce Academy participants learn about arborist services with Treecology. Photo credit: Jason Stroman

From left, Teresa Gaddy, Green Workforce Academy (GWA) Program Manager; Anthony Sterling, GWA participant; and Dr. Derron Coles, executive director of The Blueprint Foundation, celebrate Anthony’s graduation from GWA. Photo credit: Jason Stroman

Teresa’s organizing to make the space for the Green Workforce Academy has changed my life. GWA was one of the first professional spaces that I felt like I could be my full self—a BIPOC man.

The wide range of opportunities and experiences has led to a rediscovering of community and led to good job opportunities within the local food system and land restoration.

—Mario, Spring 2022 GWA Graduate


Project Partners

The Blueprint Foundation provides youth resources and mentoring where opportunity gaps exist with a focus to uplift, educate, and support the development of Black-identified youth and other communities of color.

Native American Youth and Family Center strives to enhance the diverse strengths of our youth and families in partnership with the community through cultural identity and education. 

Self Enhancement, Inc. is a comprehensive, one-stop resource for youth and families, primarily African Americans and others living in poverty or seeking culturally responsive education and social services.

Wisdom of the Elders records, preserves, and shares oral history, cultural arts, language concepts, and traditional ecological knowledge of exemplary Native American elders, storytellers, and scientists in collaboration with diverse institutions, agencies, and organizations. 

The GWA is operated by The Blueprint Foundation; Native American Youth and Family Center; Self Enhancement, Inc.; Wisdom of the Elders; and Ecotrust—a group of Portland nonprofits that together make up the Green Workforce Collaborative. Collaborative members represent the communities we serve and act as classroom teachers, field site instructors, and mentors.

Being a Collaborative member is an opportunity to join, support, and learn from each other as we confront systemic inequities and build economic and environmental justice.

Green Sector Partners

Since 2019, GWA participants have spent at least one field day learning about food systems at Mudbone Grown’s Feed’em Freedom Farm in Corbett, Ore.

GWA participants learn green building techniques and how to use a variety of tools.

Participants spend a day taking turns getting up into a tree with the expert guidance of Treecology owner Damon Schrosk and learning how to toss and knot ropes.

Time with BES involves learning about the Portland Harbor Superfund site, water sampling/testing, bioswales, and stormwater management practices.

GWA participants spend a day of stewardship in one of Portland’s many natural areas and learn plant identification and restoration practices.

At Good Rain Farm, we learn about first foods, caring for plants as relatives, the myriad uses of plants, and what it means to be a Native farmer.

GWA participants learn about sustainable practices in forestry management and the work of lumber yards and mills.

Guest speaker James Metoyer talks about the ins and outs of home efficiency, as well as the opportunities for work in the green energy sector. 

Chef Andre teaches about what it means to run sustainable commercial kitchens and shares life lessons on how to increase opportunities and professional relationships.

Participants spend time canoeing on the Willamette River near Ross Island discussing water quality, environmental impacts of pollution and materials extraction, and working in environmental education.

Ecotrust Project Team & Services

Want to learn more? Check out the full Ecotrust Staff & Board and all of our Tools for Building Collective Change.

Ecotrust project team

We cultivate leaders and assist with funding sources.  

We build and deliver mission-aligned projects in partnership. 



Green Workforce Academy participants

since 2018



split evenly between being in the classroom and in the field

You don’t have to be a scientist or have a degree to do good work that improves Portland. You can act, even on a global level to make change, and your lived experience matters.

—Teresa Gaddy, Green Workforce Academy Program Manager




A partnership of PolicyLink and Ecotrust, with extensive input, review, and data assistance from Verde Portland, this 2016 publication examines the economic, ecological, and social impacts of community-based urban forestry investments designed to benefit low-income communities and communities of color.



Learn more about the GWA and share it anyone who might be interested in applying. 


Blog post

Meet the employers and partner organizations who enrich participants’ experiences. They are critical to the success of the Green Workforce Academy.


Blog post

“Everybody needs to be at the table if we’re going to solve the problems that we’re facing.” Teresa Gaddy, Green Workforce Collaborative Program Manager, shares the vision for the GWA in this on our blog.


Background Material

This is a very brief history of racist policies in Oregon.


Background Material

A report that documents the experiences of communities of color in Multnomah County. This 2010 report was created by Coalition of Communities of Color and Portland State University to support those advocating for policy decisions that improve outcomes for people of color.

Introduction to the Green Workforce Academy


Check back soon for the 2023 application!

Radical, practical change starts with you.

support our work