Water Equity Clearinghouse

Groundwork USA


Groundwork USA is a national network of local organizations with the same focused mission: to transform the natural and built environments of marginalized communities into green, healthy, resilient places to live. Groundwork USA seeks to build a world in which communities experiencing disinvestment, a concentration and worsening of poverty, and neglect are supported in order to bring them the same benefits enjoyed by more affluent neighborhoods.

Groundwork USA achieves this vision by developing community-based partnerships that empower individuals, organizations, and businesses to advance environmental, social, and economic equity.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

Spatial data shows us that underserved communities bear a disproportionate number of brownfields – contaminated, disinvested lots that are often neglected by cities. Groundwork USA works alongside local residents to identify community needs and turn the lots into assets in neighborhoods for people to enjoy, rather than tolerate. For example, the Platte Farm Open Space is a 5.5 acre, brownfield-to-park redevelopment project in Globeville, a Denver area neighborhood. The project will address multiple issues, including stormwater management and polluted runoff. Groundwork Denver has helped secure funding, as well as get neighborhood and local business support for the project. The organization has also been working with the owners of Platte Farm to ensure long-term maintenance and discuss stormwater management needs.

The transformation of Mill Creek, in Ohio, is another project that Groundwork USA has brought to fruition with the help of dedicated partners and volunteers. While the creek was designated as the most dangerous urban river in North America in 1997, today the creek provides many benefits to the community. The five-mile Mill Creek Greenway Trail is the first step towards building healthy communities. This urban revitalization program will not only create a healthier environment for wildlife and people, but will generate jobs, stimulate the local economy, eliminate blight, and provide opportunities for recreation and environmental education. The Green Team youth employment program is one way that Mill Creek is being used as an outdoor laboratory – students from the Cincinnati Public Schools system participate in ecological service learning by testing water quality. These students also learn about the potential careers and career pathways available to them in the water sector.