Undertaking what it deems as “the most ambitious challenge in its 18-year history,” Growing Power, will partner with the City of Milwaukee to create up to 150 full-time jobs for low-income city residents.
Viewing the task as “both a test and opportunity,” the Milwaukee-based national nonprofit will demonstrate how its organizational model can help bring sustainable jobs and healthy food to the communities that need it most.
On March 3rd, the City of Milwaukee’s Common Council approved a contribution of $425,000 toward the organization’s plan. Growing Power promised to match this contribution of public funds dollar-for-dollar.
Growing Power’s jobs program was the first such plan to receive support from the city’s African-American Male Unemployment Task Force, which seeks to ameliorate the extraordinarily high jobless rate of black men in the city—a figure that stood at 53% in 2009.
The plan calls for Growing Power to hire twenty people within the first two months, and begin a process to recruit and hire 130 more. In a press release leaders wrote, “We will immediately train the new hires to build 150 hoop houses—inexpensive greenhouses—and in time teach them how to grow food intensively with techniques we pioneered at Growing Power.”
Proceeds from the food grown in those hoop houses will eventually help fund the salaries. In hiring, Growing Power will partner with community agencies to effectively recruit currently unemployed people—“and we will work with people who come from a variety of backgrounds, including those often discriminated against for having served time in correctional facilities at some point in their lives,” the release said.
“We are optimistic about our new recruits and will maintain high standards and expectations for every employee.”
Growing Power says it has a powerful opportunity to provide dignified work, and to grow what they like to call “the good food revolution.”
Founded by Will Allen, the mission of Growing Power is to support people from diverse backgrounds, and environments by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities through hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.