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University City District (UCD) is a 19-year-old partnership of world-renowned anchor institutions, business leaders, and residents that creates opportunity and improves economic vitality and quality of life in the University City area of West Philadelphia. UCD has nearly twenty years of experience collaborating with our partners to create and maintain the public realm in University City. From our cleanup team to our successful public space projects – including The Porch at 30th Street, the Market Street Bridge streetscape improvements and Philadelphia’s first Parklet program – UCD serves as the steward of University City’s public realm. At the same time, UCD runs the nationally recognized West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, which connects unemployed Philadelphians seeking opportunity with West Philadelphia employers seeking talent.
In 2014, UCD began to ask: What if we could connect people to opportunity by leveraging our efforts to make University City more beautiful? With that, we began a landscaping venture piloted on our own investments in landscaping, but quickly fueled by institutional landscaping needs. Working with local institutions, horticultural companies, landscaping businesses and more, we designed a program that leveraged our existing workforce curriculum.
To date we are maintaining over 1 million square feet of green space for University City’s largest institutions and businesses, and are becoming University City’s go-to business for quality, competitive landscaping services.
Green City Works is a social enterprise that provides high quality landscaping services while connecting local community members to good, stable jobs. We are committed to advancing our services, our labor force and our community through green space improvements.
Green City Works generates revenue that supports University City District’s social mission of changing places and changing lives. This venture provides UCD with the opportunity to train and serve those with the highest barriers to employment, including the formerly incarcerated. UCD is dedicated to being an exemplar employer in the landscaping industry by committing to good wages and benefits, full time positions, and skill building and advancement opportunities. In addition, GCW strives to be a ‘good neighbor,’ by giving back to the community through an annual landscaping project for local non-profits and schools.