Through partnerships and education we empower volunteer environmental stewardship in University city and its surrounding communities.
UC Green was started in 1998 by the University of Pennsylvania’s Facilities and Real Estate Services. Neighborhood resident and Penn staffer, Esaul Sanchez, was the first executive director. Our first office was located in a Penn-owned building at 4013 Chestnut Street.
Early on, Penn worked to combat crime, trash and blight in University City. UC Green’s role, as then-President Judith Rodin put it, was to “unite community organizations, city agencies, university students and residents in local greening efforts.”
Esaul Sanchez recruited a team of volunteers from the community, Penn’s staff, and student body to attend the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders training. These volunteers would then go on to form the new UC Green Tree Tenders group and launch a series of tree and public landscape plantings.
In its first year, UC Green completed over 20 individual block greening projects. With this experience under its belt, UC Green began first-in-the-city large-scale community tree plantings. Hundreds of volunteers planted hundreds of street trees. In these early years, UC Green also completed new landscapes for public schools, public health centers, and public gardens. These landscapes featuring plants native to the area, including those found in Bartram Gardens, showy exotics, and medicinal plantings.
In 2003, UC Green hired Amanda Benner as its second executive director. Amanda worked to establish UC Green as an independent non-profit organization with its own 501(c)(3) status. In addition, Amanda led UC Green as it worked with the Philadelphia Water Department to construct a storm water landscape, or “rain garden,” on land belonging to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (now USciences), provided logistical support for Cedar Park and Spruce Hill in their block grant projects, and initiated the UC Green Pruning Club and UC Green Corps to maintain mature street trees planted by UC Green.
Between 2003 and 2011, UC Green planted over 3,800 new street trees in University City, including those on streets and triangles in Powelton Village near Drexel University.
In 2008, Sue Pringle was hired as UC Green’s third executive director. In addition to UC Green’s previous initiatives, Sue expanded the scope of UC Green’s environmental activities by partnering more closely with Woodland Cemetery, Bartram’s Garden, Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary; and the Walnut Hill Community Garden. In addition, UC Green helped neighborhood volunteers construct and maintain beehives and built several community gardens.
Today, UC Green continues to improve our neighborhoods. Through partnerships and education we empower volunteer environmental stewardship in University City and its surrounding communities.