A Landforce crew ready for work. Photo by Renee Rosensteel.

Your voices were heard: Landforce, one of the four winners of the Google Impact Challenge, was chosen via public voting to receive an additional $50,000 grant.

Three weeks ago, Landforce was named a Google Impact Challenge winner along with Idea Foundry, Pittsburgh Community Kitchen and Prototype PGH. The ideas proposed by these four nonprofits were chosen from among more than 90 applicants in Google’s search for innovative ways to create economic opportunity in the Pittsburgh area.

Each was awarded $50,000 at that time, and the public was invited to choose one that would receive additional funding.

The nonprofit Landforce launched officially in 2015. But it grew originally from the work of the Emerald Trail Corps beginning in 2011. Its twin missions are vital: training local people to be workforce ready and improving the environment.

Landforce will use their total of $100,000 to train more than 150 Pittsburghers to work at jobs in environmental restoration. The goal is to help them gain skills that help them earn livable wages after being on public assistance, while also facilitating more than 100,000 hours of environmental restoration work.

Ideally, this new group of workers will collectively earn a total of more than $10 million in eventual income.

“We are so grateful to have been chosen as the Google Impact Challenge People’s Choice,” Landforce Executive Director Ilyssa Manspeizer says. “We will be using the award to build a program around green technologies like solar, energy efficiency, and other renewables. This will allow us to build a more secure job pipeline, triple the number of people we serve within the next few years, and expand the kinds of environmental services we provide.”

Manspeizer also praised Landforce’s fellow awardees and said they’ve already begun discussing potential collaboration.

“We have already learned so much from them,” she says, “and between us are already exploring new initiatives that we could work on together. Google.org’s generosity has already catalyzed so much for our organization, and we are deeply thankful for this opportunity.”

Melissa Rayworth

Kidsburgh Editor Melissa Rayworth specializes in stories about culture, gender, design and parenting. She has written for a variety of outlets in the U.S. and Asia, and is a frequent contributor to The...