Oakland, CA (April 25, 2012)- Earlier this spring, NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams featured urban forestry nonprofit Urban Releaf in its “Making A Difference” report. Williams describes the segment about “a good idea for battling dirty air and despair…one tree at a time.” Urban Releaf founder and executive director Kemba Shakur tells of the genesis of the Oakland-based nonprofit and the impact it has had on the community and its residents.
“We’re turning it from a concrete jungle to a green oasis,” says Shakur. Urban Releaf was established in 1999 in the City of Oakland, California to address the needs of communities that have little greenery. Urban Releaf is committed to the revitalization of our communities through tree planting, garden projects and environmental education.
Urban Releaf seeks to empower residents including children and youth to beautify their neighborhoods, believing that rehabilitation through tree planting and environmental awareness will revitalize core urban areas. Urban Releaf concentrates on working with At Risk Youth organizations to promote and sustain community beautification projects. Programs also expose youth to the various fields of arboriculture, biology, and advanced plant sciences. In January 2005 Richmond Releaf combined with Oakland Releaf to become Urban Releaf, an organization dedicated to planting trees primarily in low to moderate-income communities that have little or no tree canopy cover. The goal is to revitalize these communities by planting trees, providing environmental awareness education and on-the-job training for at-risk youth and hard-to-employ adults.