A Ready and Willing Workforce: Hurricane Sandy Recovery

When Gateway National Park wanted the parks open for the summer after the storms, the National Park Service, New York City Parks and New Jersey State Parks reached out to SCA because of our past experience working on natural disaster sites. American Eagle stepped up as a corporate sponsor and underwrote the cost of a student crew to kick off the clean-up. This and subsequent crews worked through the spring cleaning up debris, replanting native grasses and restoring beaches.The parks are now in better shape than ever.

In addition to providing full-ride Spring Break scholarships for 135 students, American Eagle turned its hundreds of stores, its massive social network, even its 25-story electronic billboard in Times Square into beacons for conservation. Retail windows and video displays broadcast lessons in sustainability to millions of consumers, both young and old. Customer contribution campaigns generated important awareness and tens of thousands of dollars in additional funding.  AE even underwrote a special SCA crew to assist the National Parks of New York Harbor in recovering from Hurricane Sandy. American Eagle employees got into the act too with local conservation service projects, a reflection of company’s genuine commitment to our environment.

SCA has been a pioneer in environmental restoration since 1988, when our volunteers helped Yellowstone come back from massive wildfires that scorched nearly a third of the park. Since then, we’ve aided the Everglades’ rebound from Hurricane Andrew, repaired a flood-ravaged Mount Rainier and helped rescue wildlife from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It is important to us to encourage the ideals of conservation and activism and to share our love of the outdoors with current and future generations.
 — Marcie Eberhart, American Eagle Outfitters Foundation Director


The Next Generation of Leaders: Corporate Sustainability Internship Program

In 2011 SCA created the Corporate Sustainability Internship Program (CSIP) to meet a growing demand from our corporate partners for employees who have an understanding of environmental initiatives as well as fundamental business acumen. The program provides young professionals with corporate experience and creates awareness of the role environmental stewardship can play in all jobs. To date, more than 40% of CSIP interns have been hired as permanent employees.

A leader in food services and facilities management, ARAMARK teamed with SCA last year to place groundbreaking sustainability interns at corporations, sports stadiums, universities and national parks. These young people were responsible for devising plans to reduce waste, source responsibly, and conserve resources. ARAMARK made a commitment in excess of $3 million to this SCA intern program and agreed to place 120 sustainability interns in their facilities over the next three years.
In 2013, SCA Corporate Sustainability Interns were placed across the U.S., including internships in Denali, AK; Pacific Grove, CA; Carrollton, GA; Boston, MA; Waltham, MA; Baltimore, MD; Allendale, MI; Maryville, MO; St. Louis, MO; Tahoe, NV; Cleveland, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Charleston, SC; Clemson, SC; Rapid City, SD; Canyon, TX; Nacogdoches, TX; Waco, TX; Charlottesville, VA; Harrisonburg, VA; Olympia, WA; Olympic National Park, WA. Internships are offered for a period of 6 to 9 months. Depending upon the scope of responsibilities, positions are full time (40 hrs) or part time (20 hrs). Interns receive specific on-the-job training at their internship location, depending upon needs.
“I’ve always had an interest in the environment, but I couldn’t see myself as a biologist in the field. I wanted to work in a setting with more practical application, and straddle business and environmental issues. It’s awesome that the company [ARAMARK] supports this approach.”
 — Caroline Gorham, ARAMARK Sustainability Intern at UNC-Wilmington, later hired as Sustainability Manager at UNC-CH for ARAMARK
“We recognize that our workforce is evolving and we are looking at ways to better engage young people by designing career opportunities around our shared interests. Today’s generation wants to be connected to issues and concerns they care about such as corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability.”
 — Kathy Cacciola, ARAMARK Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, and SCA alumna


Urban Sustainability: The SCA Green Cities Program

SCA’s Green Cities Corps was developed in 2008 to assist cities like Pittsburgh in the creation and implementation of local climate action plans. Members of the Green Cities Corps engage in projects with local government and non-profit agencies to mitigate climate change and increase sustainability.The program prepares college graduates for green jobs in urban sustainability through extensive training and hands-on project experiences.

SCA Green Cities Corps goals are to: 1. Develop and implement local climate action plans; 2. Provide capacity to agencies implementing sustainability through local action, and 3. Prepare young professionals for green jobs in urban sustainability through extensive training and hands-on project experience. 

Partners, including the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Highmark Corporate Sustainability, Green Building Alliance and Sustainable Pittsburgh provide match funding for about half of the direct costs of their SCA Fellow as well as hands-on training for the crew. Partner supervisors mentor their SCA Fellow’s professional development and project successes, starting from a strong work plan that outlines sustainability goals and impacts. 

Over these first five years of the SCA Green Cities Corps, the program has placed Green Cities Fellows with strategic partners to implement local climate change mitigation and sustainability projects with citywide results. SCA Fellows bring skills from a range of disciplines to implement hands-on sustainability projects that bring capacity to our Pittsburgh partner agencies while building the next generation of conservation leaders.

In 2012, SCA Green Cities employed 31,000 intern service hours, engaged 144,200 members of the public and coordinated 2,100 volunteers. The program reduced green house gases by 1,336,000 pounds per year and saved more than 1.5 million gallons of water. More than one-third of SCA Green Cities alumni are now employed in sustainability positions in the Pittsburgh area.

“The SCA Green Cities fellows have helped the City of Pittsburgh to continue its economic and environmental transformation.” 

— Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

Engagement with Local Communities: SCA Days of Service

SCA has developed a platform for conservation service. National service days five times per year will allow our partner organizations and their employees and customers along with our alumni to participate with SCA. Led by young people, participants become involved in a hands-on experience that promotes continued stewardship in the community.

National Days of Service include Martin Luther King Junior Day, Earth Day, SCA Founder’s Day, September 11th, and Veterans Day. Current service markets include Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
“NASCAR Green is one of the country’s most powerful environmental platforms, and The NASCAR Foundation continually works to improve the lives of children across the country. We’re proud to bring the two together in partnership with an outstanding organization like SCA to promote youth involvement in sustainable projects, all while helping Missouri State Parks.”
 — Lorene King, The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director about NASCAR’s participation in Earth Day 2013
Want to create your own Day of Service? Public and private sector partners come to SCA for turn-key events that give employees and members of the communities hands-on opportunities to effect change where they live. In 2013, these SCA Days of Service included National Public Lands Day (Sept. 28), Kids/Youth Days of Service with Whole Foods, California Coastal Clean Up Day with the Watershed Project, Trail Construction and Maintenance in Calhoun Family Forest, Gilsum, NH. and many others.
In 2012,  Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS) partnered with SCA to forward the corporation’s ACTION Nation goal of attaining 100,000 volunteer hours by 2015. During DPS’ “Get Outdoors Day” teams of experienced SCA interns led 186 DPS employee volunteers in community service projects that restored parks, trails and other natural resources at the Statue Of Liberty National Monument (New York,) Garfield Park Conservatory (Chicago,) Gettysburg National Military Park (Gettysbug,) San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge (Houston,) Yolo Basin Wildlife Area (Sacramento,) and Santa Fe Trestle Trail (Dallas.) The teams logged 729 hours of volunteer service valued at $16,000.
 “SCA’s hands-on approach to conservation strengthens our youth, our communities and our environment. The organization’s mission effectively aligns with our philanthropic priority of supporting environmental sustainability initiatives, and we look forward to working together to make more of an impact in the future.”
 — Tina Barry, EVP of Corporate Affairs for Dr Pepper Snapple Group