URI GreenSkills is a local green jobs program that employs high school students and adults with employment barriers through the planting of trees. GreenSkills connects people to their communities, their environment, and each other.

GreenSkills Overview: URI provides and plants street trees free-of-charge for New Haven residents thanks to a partnership with the New Haven Department of Parks & Trees.  Anyone in New Haven can request a free tree to be planted in the curb strip in front of their home or business so long as they commit to watering the tree for three years. New Haveners can request a tree in honor of a loved one, friend, or child, or for no other reason than to provide shade and beauty for their neighborhood. Renters, businesses, and homeowners are all eligible to participate.

GreenSkills Origins: The GreenSKills Program began in the fall of 2007, when the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees carried a backlog of residents’ requests for new street trees. Inspired by the successful Community Greenspace program, the City of New Haven offered to partner with URI to plant the trees. URI took this opportunity to offer green jobs to teens and formerly incarcerated adults, two groups underrepresented in environmental projects and decision-making. Since 2007, the GreenSkills crews have planted over 7,000 trees for more than 3,000 New Haven residents and businesses.

GreenSkills Planting Crews: Every fall and spring, GreenSkills crews work across every New Haven neighborhood to plant and maintain trees, learn about local ecology, gain marketable job and mentoring skills, and foster a sense of environmental stewardship – all in an effort to improve New Haven’s street tree canopy and make meaningful positive change in New Haven communities.

  • GreenSkills Youth Program – teams of six high schoolers (2-3 per planting season) are mentored closely by two Yale student interns. Teams work on Saturdays.
  • GreenSkills Re-entry Apprentice Program – teams of six formerly incarcerated adults are matched with a Yale student intern and a URI staff member. Teams work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Request a Tree: URI accepts requests for trees on an ongoing basis. Requests are typically met during the same planting season, depending on the volume of requests. To request a new street tree in front of your home or business, use this form, or contact URI at 203-432-6189 or Tree planting location must be in New Haven.

Join our GreenSkills planting team: to join one of our GreenSKills tree planting crews, you should be ready for physically demanding work and be excited about working closely with peers and learning more about community forestry in New Haven. Crew members are hired through our partner organizations: Emerge CT, Common Ground High School, and The Sound School. Prospective Yale student interns should visit URI’s internship page.  

Read more about GreenSkills in the New York Times, Prisons, Then Parks: A Therapeutic Journey.

Listen to what GreenSkills Participants have to say:

Will’s story - GreenSkills staff member and former Re-entry Apprentice Program participant:

GreenSkills Youth Program participants:

In Memory of Javier Martinez:

This next video was created by seniors at Common Ground High School, one of our GreenSkills partner schools.  Every Common Ground senior is charged with developing a culminating group project that builds on what they have learned while at Common Ground and addresses an issue facing their community. In 2014 the entire Common Ground community, and especially the senior class, dealt with a tremendous tragedy when student, friend, son, and senior Javier Martinez was shot and killed. Recognizing action as part of the healing process, many seniors directed their projects on how to end gun violence in New Haven. Because Javier was an intern in the GreenSkills program, this video project highlighted the correlation between violence and tree coverage.