DOI / VISTA Team Projects

Groundwork Portland

DOI / VISTA: Eli Mangold
Supervisor: Edward Hill
Address: 3802 NE MLK Blvd, Portland, Oregon 97212
County: Multnomah
Voice Telephone: 503-662-2590
Web site:
Congressional District: 3
Bureau: National Park Service (NPS)


Groundwork Portland is a community-led organization whose leadership represents the communities it serves, including a Board of Directors largely comprised of people from low-income backgrounds and communities of color. A core aim of GWPDX’s strategic plan is to advance environmental and social justice by involving disproportionately affected communities in decision-making on how to cleanup and restore land and water. Groundwork Portland is an affiliate of Groundwork USA and a network of Groundwork Trusts established across the United States in regions that have experienced decades of decline in their physical and social environments. 

About the Surrounding Community

Youth unemployment is a significant issue in the surrounding community with a rate of 16.3% unemployment for young adults ages 16 to 24 as of July 2013 (Huffington Post), with youth of color disproportionately impacted. Additionally, serious health risks exist due to contamination in the lower Willamette River, as documented by public health assessments conducted throughout the Portland Harbor Superfund site. 

Project Overview

DOI/ VISTA Karla Powell is mainly providing assistance and capacity for a project to diversify stewards of the Willamette Watershed. The project increases access to environmental vocations for a much broader and diverse group of individuals. This project builds long-term capacity among Portland’s diverse and often underserved communities and empowers them to participate fully in the region’s natural area restoration and protection activities. This project allows the Green Team, many of whom are recurring participants, to gain educational credit, job skills and career knowledge, including the recognition of hidden contaminants in the air, water, and ground, restoration of the environment, and protection of their own health. Specifically, Karla is working to build infrastructure (such as an orientation packet and a tracking system) so that the project will be able to better train new staff, interns and volunteers. Additionally she is: conducting project evaluations to help implement necessary changes; expanding community partnerships to support job training and job opportunities for Green Team graduates and community members; helping search for sustainable funding opportunities; conducting community outreach to increase participants in the project; developing partnerships between property owners and Groundwork Portland in preparation for community roles in superfund site cleanup, restoration and development; as well as providing support the Green Team activities in the field.

Sponsors and Partners

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