Partnership Will Initially Engage 125 Youth in Chicago & NW Indiana, Outreach to Hundreds More
Young Military Veterans to Also Participate in Environmental Improvement Programs
(CHICAGO, IL) June 30, 2015 – The Student Conservation Association, the national leader in youth service and stewardship, today announced a new partnership with BP America that will provide $1 million in financial support over the next two years, including the immediate funding of environmental projects in Chicago and at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Initially, the partnership will help to provide 125 summer jobs and directly benefit up to 1,000 under-served young people throughout Chicago, according to SCA President and CEO Jaime Berman Matyas.
“BP’s financial support enables SCA to significantly expand the number of meaningful, career-oriented service opportunities we provide for Chicago teenagers,” says Matyas. “It also extends our ability to pilot new and innovative ways of engaging others in nature, benefitting even more of our young people, environment, and the community at large.”
“BP has been an important part of this community for decades, and we take seriously our responsibility to be both good corporate citizens and environmental stewards,” said John Mingé, BP America’s chairman and president. “This gift underscores that commitment, and we hope it helps people from all backgrounds develop a real passion for conservation — and for keeping Chicago and Northwest Indiana beautiful for years to come.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also noted the long-term impact of the agreement. “This partnership will help Chicagoans with big hearts, especially at-risk youth and veterans become inspired and empowered young professionals,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I thank both BP and the Student Conservation Association for expanding urban conservation initiatives throughout Chicago, in turn benefiting the environment, transforming lives and enhancing the well-being of our community.”
Beginning this week, 100 local high school students from diverse backgrounds are working along the Calumet River, in collaboration with Cook County Forest Preserve and Friends of the Forest Preserves. The teenagers are restoring eroded riparian areas, removing invasive species and conducting tree health surveys.
Additionally, SCA will provide Chicagoland K-12 students with free environmental education and outdoor activities through its Urban Tree House. Modeled after a similar SCA program that reaches 800 students per year in Washington, DC, the Urban Tree House bonds city youth with their local environment by encouraging healthy, sustainable connections with nature.
BP’s support will also enable SCA to double its ongoing conservation efforts at Indiana Dunes by creating four new project teams of college-age students and young military veterans. Participants will eradicate exotic plants, curtail harmful stormwater runoff, and build hiking trails near Great Marsh, an important rest stop for migratory birds and a popular recreational site for outdoor enthusiasts.
SCA’s Matyas points out while all participants gain valuable conservation knowledge and hands on experience from their work in the field, the program also helps ease veterans’ transition back to civilian life by providing team-based retraining and employment.
New research by the Search Institute, an international authority on what youth need to succeed, indicates that SCA crew members routinely emerge from their experience with a thriving mindset marked by a propensity to think, feel and act in ways that fuel continuous growth and optimal development. Participants benefit from improved leadership qualities, enhanced interpersonal skills, a greater sense of social responsibility, as well as a greater commitment to conservation.
In all, the SCA summer and fall programs will render 69,000 hours of service, advancing the Interior Department’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a national campaign to put America’s young people and returning veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s natural and cultural treasures.
Over the past five years, BP has invested nearly $50 billion in the U.S. – more than any other energy company. BP is a leading producer of oil and gas and provides enough energy annually to light nearly the entire country for a year. Employing about 18,000 people in all 50 states, BP supports more than 260,000 jobs total through all of its business activities. For more information, go to www.bp.com/us.
About the Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s largest and most effective youth conservation service organization. SCA transforms lives and lands by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and 70% of its nearly 80,000 alumni are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. SCA is headquartered in Washington, DC and maintains regional oﬃces across the country. For more, visit www.thesca.org.