For low-income communities, the promise of well-paying green careers has remained largely out of reach, primarily due to the lack of access to higher education. Low-income communities of color have disproportionately been affected by environmental harms—including climate change—while people of color remain underrepresented in the environmental field and at the tables where decisions are made. To remedy this the Alliance piloted, in 2020, a 14-month paid internship college-track program that involves gaining college credit in environmental topics and embarking on an independent research program: Environmental Enrichment and Leadership for Students (EELS).
The Alliance Education Program provides hands-on opportunities for youth and educators to use the Bronx River as an outdoor classroom. EELS students picked a topic that they learned over the summer and completed a detailed research project about that topic. On August 25th, EELS presented their work to their families during a Symposium at River House. Currently, the Alliance operates spring, summer, and fall EELS sessions for around 30 students a year.
Our Education Program opens doors for youth from underrepresented communities who face disproportionate environmental health and safety hazards to authentically engage in science, environmental policy, education, and advocacy. This work acknowledges the rich history of the Bronx River watershed, including its advocates. Through this work, the Bronx River Alliance seeks to bring science alive through hands-on learning and exploration of the river; deepen environmental awareness and an understanding of the impact of our own actions; create healthier, more livable communities; and serve as a conduit for young people who want to be at the forefront of this change, including opening environmental career opportunities.