BEETS Graduate!

May 24th, 2017

IMG_0239Thursday, May 4, 2017 the Fall-Spring BEETS Cohort graduated. The CommunityGrows staff celebrated the past eight months of their accomplishments with a slide show and BBQ in Koshland Garden. IMG_0229The BEETS program is a stipended, hands-on, outdoor learning experience that provides roughly 20 youth each year with life skills and job-readiness training. The program aims to help youth live healthier lives and build skills for successful futures, with the goals that youth will: learn to make positive choices in their lives, in their community, and for their environment; acquire job skills to prepare for the workforce and futures; and develop supportive relationships with adults and peers.IMG_0242The new model we launched for this cohort in October 2016 lengthened the BEETS program over the academic year and focused on a project learning component. It was a year of growth and adventure for these eight young adults. During the fall, the BEETS completed workshops and trainings on garden maintenance, soil knowledge, planting methods and water conservation. They also completed a ropes course together, bonding and practicing trust and teamwork. They also learned more about food access and justice-particularly the importance of communities having access to fresh, affordable and nutritious food.IMG_0261IMG_0249IMG_0250The learning component scheduled for this cohort allowed the BEETS to work with residents at Plaza East, a subsidized housing community in the Western Addition, to create patio gardens and garden care guides. This project was also an opportunity to explore incorporating a revenue generating component into the program. They learned how to build container gardens from a horticulturalist and entrepreneur who owns her own landscaping company in San Francisco.
IMG_0256IMG_0252There have been positive results in changing up the BEETS Program with an extended period. The BEETS have been able to expand and deepen their learning about gardening, the environment and nutrition; their relationships with each other and staff have grown stronger; and they have expressed appreciation for the increased earning power and financial literacy. With consistent earnings they have been able to create and follow personal budgets which they check throughout the year. IMG_0254IMG_0259The project-based learning component has expanded their job skills, improving their resume and their real-world work experience, and given them a sense of ownership and pride within the community. We also anticipate that the longer time will strengthened their resume and make them more competitive in the workforce post-program. Base on a mid-point survey, 100% of our current cohort thinks they are learning valuable life skills through the program and 100% of participants apply what they learn through the program outside of the program at least once a week. “This session is better [than the shorter session] because I’m closer to the BEETS and this time I was able to achieve my goals because we had more time to work on them,” Barry, a second year BEET said.IMG_0244Cultural relevancy is vital to the work we do. Indeed it is the only way to support low-income and youth of color in San Francisco who are continually displaced from their homes and neighborhoods. For many of the youth we serve, the “environment” is distant, distinct from their everyday lives and concerns. We work to help youth feel safe and welcome outdoors by co-creating and maintaining green spaces in their neighborhoods and connecting them to other youth who look like them and also care about the environment. Our goal is for the teens to connect physically with the outdoors as they learn how they can combat environmental and food injustices which disproportionately impact their bodies and communities.IMG_0268 Thank you also to Jaromy Siemers and Liz Holm from our Advisory Board for joining us in celebrating the BEETS!





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