New Haven Urban Resources Initiative
301 Prospect St
New Haven CT 06511
Contact Information
Address 301 Prospect St
New Haven, CT 06511-
Telephone (203) 432-6570 x
Fax 203-432-0869
Web and Social Media
The mission of URI is to foster environmental stewardship and human development by promoting citizen participation and community action through education, institutional cooperation and professional guidance.
At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 1993
Organization's type of tax exempt status Exempt-Other
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
CEO/Executive Director Colleen Murphy-Dunning
Board Chair Laurence Nadel
Board Chair Company Affiliation self-employed
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses Bar Graph - All Years
The mission of URI is to foster environmental stewardship and human development by promoting citizen participation and community action through education, institutional cooperation and professional guidance.

New Haven Urban Resources Initiative (URI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1991 and affiliated with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES). Our purpose has always been to engage the community of all ages, backgrounds, and income to understand and take responsibility for their environment. We began in 1991 with k-12 school environmental education programs, grew in 1995 with community greening programs, and expanded in 2007 with GreenSkills, our green jobs program planting all of the public trees for the City of New Haven. In 2014, GreenSkills piloted the construction of bioswales to help manage stormwater in New Haven, and expanded officially in 2018. 

As a community partner, we combine the expertise of environmental educators, scientists, and land managers with that of teachers and neighborhood leaders to create projects that meet specific needs of urban communities. The cornerstones of our work are listening to local concerns and developing environmental programs in collaboration with neighborhood groups, city agencies, and schools to foster environmental stewardship and human development. 




URI’s top four accomplishments of the past year :

1) In the past year (2019) URI planted 592 trees with volunteers from Community Greenspace (55 trees in the summer) and hired teens and prison survivors in GreenSkills (202 trees in the spring and 330 trees in the fall). Beyond beautification, it is estimated that New Haven's street trees currently save the city about $4 million per year. These savings come through reducing storm water runoff, improving air quality and public health, and lowering energy bills, among other things. All New Haven residents may request a free street tree through this program.

2) In summer 2019, we celebrated our 25th season of Community Greenspace. This year we worked with 652 volunteers, hosting 312 events, and enabling 3,799 hours of community service through the Community Greenspace program! The program's 3 main goals are to build community, foster stewardship of public lands, and restore the environmental landscape of New Haven. The program held well-received community workshops and tours of Greenspaces. Since 1995, 303 New Haven neighborhood sites and parks have been improved through this program.

3) URI built 30 new bioswales in 2019 in downtown New Haven to help manage stormwater runoff, continues to maintain over 100 bioswales, and secured a contract to build 75 more in 2020. URI works closely with the City Engineering Department, EMERGE, and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies to accomplish this work. This partnership was honored with an award in 2018 from Harvard's Kennedy School. The project provides prevailing wage rates to the crew of EMERGE participants. The program's 3 goals are: reducing storm water runoff and consequential pollution in the Long Island Sound and New Haven; better understanding the capacity of green infrastructure to reduce pollution; and demonstrating the feasibility of bioswales in the region.

5) This year GreenSkills trained 35 high school interns and 22 adult apprentices (people with a history that includes incarceration) for successful careers in tree care, landscaping, green infrastructure and environmental restoration. The impact of the program on the participants, providing training and steady employment and rewarding work that benefits society can be better understood by watching our GreenSkills video, which can be viewed here:

We hope to meet these goals again next year and expand the impact of our projects, to support again hundreds of Greenspace volunteers, to plant another 500-700 trees, to build 75 more bioswales, to train more teens and adults in our GreenSkills program, to strengthen our partnerships making our city more resilient in the face of climate change and the increasing frequency and strength of storms.

Needs Our priority is to continue to train and support our interns and apprentices.  
  1. 82 Intern Stipends ($61,000)
  2. Trees, shrubs, and perennials (50 Community Greenspace groups -$50,000)
  3. GIS software and technical support ($15,000)
  4. Fuel to deliver trees and other materials ($8,000)
CEO Statement

As a small nonprofit organization with 4 full-time and 2 part-time staff we know to be successful we must leverage resources through partnerships. More fundamental is our vision that citizen activists cannot successfully manage the landscape alone – we must do so in concert with government, who has the public mandate to manage public land.

One strength of our program is the tree planting undertaken creates a tangible lasting improvement.  Community Greenspace volunteers and GreenSkills interns alike comment on how they value participating in the program because they feel they are making a difference.  Planting trees is an empowering act.
Another key strength of our nonprofit is our relationship to the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, which creates a powerful mutual pathway transporting knowledge from the university to the community, and providing an opportunity for university students to make a contribution as they learn.
Board Chair Statement
Urban Resources Initiative (URI) is a highly productive community nonprofit organization that works in conjunction with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Our mission is to foster community-based land stewardship, promote environmental education, advance the practice of urban forestry and community parks, provide green jobs to high school interns and paid green job training to men in transition, and furnish clinical educational opportunities to Yale students. Our mission rests on the recognition that engagements by urbanites with their landscape are essential to their happiness and well-being, and have positive impacts on building communities. URI focuses on four areas:
· Community Forestry and Greenspace: URI works with local New Haven community groups and residents to replant, restore, and reclaim the urban environment. We seek out those areas traditionally seen as problems—abandoned schoolyards, vacant lots, derelict buildings, and historically neglected areas in the city—and turn their rehabilitation into opportunities for the social and physical renewal of our community and environment.
· GreenSkills: URI provides paid green job training to men in transition and urban youth.
· Bioswales: URI has been the primary contractee with the City of New Haven to construct bioswales, which reduce pollution by separating storm-water runoff from streets with the sewer system. We have received two large contracts with the City to create more bioswales, which has allowed us to provide more well paying jobs for persons in transition.
· Environmental education: Our Greenspace and GreenSkills programs provide workspaces for community members and Yale students receive clinical environmental education together.
Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Environment / Environmental Education
Secondary Organization Category Public & Societal Benefit / Citizen Participation
Tertiary Organization Category Community Improvement, Capacity Building / Neighborhood/Block Association
Areas Served
New Haven
Greater New Haven, CT

The Community Greenspace program provides material supplies, technical advice, and classroom-based and hands-on training delivered by URI staff and Yale graduate student interns to support inner city New Haven residents who wish to reclaim and then maintain the landscape of their urban neighborhoods. Nearly 1,000 citizen volunteers participate annually.

Population Served Families / Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.

The Greenspace program achieves certain goals of the City’s administration including strengthening neighborhoods, curbing blight, planting street trees, supporting park “friends” groups, and fostering a stronger future for New Haven’s environment. Greenspace helps communities take a larger stake in their neighborhoods by encouraging groups to improve their surrounding landscapes through tackling issues such as litter, graffiti, tree trimming, and traffic flows.

The Greenspace Program works with approximately 50 volunteer groups each year to reach these goals throughout New Haven's neighborhoods.  
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. A primary goal of the program is to build strong connections among residents, which often contribute to safer, more attractive, and healthier neighborhoods. Citizen engagement is the driving force of the Greenspace program. Citizens initiate the projects, identifying their environmental issues and focus. The project spaces identified by neighbors run the gamut from publicly-owned land, such as parks and curbstrips, to publicly-oriented spaces, such as vacant lots and even front yards. Citizens carry out the physical labor to achieve their project goals and commit to long-term stewardship. URI works closely with the community groups to provide technical and organizing guidance and most of the materials needed to implement and sustain the projects.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.

Each year plants are evaluated approximately one year after the planting to record survival and condition. This survival monitoring is conducted with a new Community Forestry intern and members of the community that did the planting the year before. A map of the planting and a corresponding monitoring worksheet assist in tracking the correct number planted and survived. This monitoring assists both community members and interns in learning plant identification. The exercise is an opportunity for good discussion on the causes of plant death and how to improve conditions for plant survival in the group’s future plantings.

We use  units to enter the location of the planting into the handheld device.  The unit records the latitude/longitude of the planting site.  We found this new technology effective because it allows us to display the plantings into digital maps (posted online).  

Every year we have a high survival rate for street trees (95% or above). Typically, we do not lose any more than one tree per species and most species have 100% survival rates. We plant a high level of variety (over 40 species).

Community involvement and building is monitored through the number of volunteers and hours worked by each group.  In the summer of 2017, a total of 843 volunteers came together for 350 community events for a total of 4,523 hours of community service and fellowship.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
This is the final report from one of the 50 groups we worked with this summer. 
Group Name: Cherry Ann Park (in Newhallville)
Community Investment: 56 individual volunteers; 311 community volunteer hours; 11 community events
Restoration: 29 shrubs planted; 34 perennials planted; 1 yd of mulch; 1 yd of compost
Project Narrative: Cherry Ann continues to be a special Greenspace group that inspires the New Haven community with all that it has accomplished in four years. Dedicated group leaders, Miss Connie and Mr. Mike, along with their neighbors and a passionate community of children from Cherry Ann Street have created an incredible asset for the community.  The park is used by neighbors, school groups, and camps throughout the summer months, and people are beginning to realize what a treasure they have in their own back yard. At the beginning of the summer, the group co-hosted a well-attended public event for inauguration of their community garden plots. The US Conference of Mayors, Mayor Toni Harp, and other local and national partners recognized the group for their park-building efforts over the years. The rest of the summer the group focused their energy on maintaining and beautifying the Cherry Ann Street entrance, planting new shrubs at the entrance by King Robinson School, tending to the Urban Oasis swales, and continuing to clear invasive plants around the perimeter. The group also spent plenty of time tending to the 30+ trees and 60+ shrubs and perennials planted at the by volunteers last year. 

Our GreenSkills program creates an opportunity to solve two of New Haven’s pressing needs: the decline in street tree canopy across the city with more trees removed than planted, and the underemployment of teenage youth and formerly incarcerated adults.

GreenSkills is a career development program.  The program utilizes hands-on training delivered by URI staff and Yale graduate student interns.  The Yale students serve as mentors to inner city high school teens on weekends and during the week they work alongside prison survivors who wish to learn job skills in urban forestry.  We partner with the Sound School and Common Ground who select the teens each year.  We partner with EMERGE who selects the men we work with each year. 

Population Served At-Risk Populations / Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) /
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.

Since the GreenSkills program’s inception, over 5,000 trees have been planted on public land in New Haven. Each tree planted is in response to a request from a citizen who in return promises to water and care for the newly planted tree. Thus, each tree represents greater environmental stewardship in the community. And, each year we have paid positions for 36 high school interns and 15 prison survivors to gain leadership and job skills, and a greater understanding of their environment. The interns have learned to professionally plant trees; identify tree species; use GPS technology to inventory trees; work as a positive member of a team; expand leadership abilities; increase their ecological knowledge; and develop a stewardship ethic for the land.  

Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. The street tree population of New Haven had been in rapid decline with more trees removed than planted each year prior to the establishment of the GreenSkills program in 2007.  The program’s goals are twofold: high school students and adult ex-offenders gain professional training, work experience, and benefit from mentorship of URI staff and Yale college students while the New Haven citizenry benefit from the increased number of street trees, which remove pollution, lower energy use, improve water quality, improve human comfort, and increase urban property values. 

The GreenSkills program is implemented in close cooperation with the City of New Haven. In addition to the long term ecological impact of the increased canopy cover, all of the participating interns gain technical training and job skills that better prepare them for the future employment opportunities.  

Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
Multiple measurement tools are utilized including performance reviews, reflection sessions and monitoring of survival of trees planted.  Performance evaluations are completed twice for each intern - midterm and at conclusion.  The interns self-evaluate and meet with supervisors to compare measures and comments.  Reflection sessions are held as a group to discuss how their participation in the program has affected them.  We use ArcGIS Online and the smartphone app Collector to track tree survival rates.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

URI has monitored and increased New Haven’s street tree canopy by engaging urban high school and recently released ex-offenders in inventory and planting efforts. Over 143 high school interns and 171 adult apprentices have participated.

Participants are empowered by job responsibility, and gain a new confidence of what they are able to accomplish. They describe feeling a sense of ownership and pride over the trees they plant, and enjoy sharing newfound knowledge with friends and family.
The greatest impact of the GreenSkills program for the adult crews comes from the positive reinforcement of neighbors repeatedly thanking the GreenSkills teams for their hard work, which helps to soften the negative stigma of incarceration and create the environment needed for personal transformation.  

Examples of student’s responses in reflection sessions:

I’ve gained “the confidence to achieve the task I’m assigned to. I’ve learned my actions affect my teammates, and that they depend on me to help get the task or goal done. I have to do my part, to work hard, and to back up my team as a good leader.”

Another stated that he learned a core skill he could teach others and learned that you could feel pride for the city you live in by putting in time to make it a better place.”

Program Comments
CEO Comments URI is expanding its work in green infrastructure to help New Haven become more resilient in response to storms increasing in strength and frequency.  In 2013-17, URI's GreenSkills program constructed 26 bioswales using different designs and materials to evaluate their effectiveness.  Since 2018, we settled on a design and built 99 more bioswales in New Haven's downtown area. We have been successful in this work due to our strong partnerships with the City of New Haven and EMERGE. 
CEO/Executive Director
Colleen Murphy-Dunning
Term Start Jan 1995
Term Start Jan
Number of Full Time Staff 4
Number of Part Time Staff 2
Number of Volunteers 1000
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate 83%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 5
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 3
Unspecified 0
Former CEOs and Terms
Leigh ShemitzJan 1994 - Jan 2000
Senior Staff
Title Greenspace Manager
Title Development & Outreach Manager
Title GreenSkills Program Manager
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation No
New Haven URI collaborates with many partners including the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, City of New Haven, Common Ground High School, Sound School, EMERGE, and 50+ community volunteer groups.
Roy Family Award for Environmental PartnershipHarvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government2018
CEO Comments  In March 2018 we hired a sixth staff member, Will Tisdale, who had been planting trees with our EMERGE GreenSkills team and now oversees the EMERGE field crew.  In 2019, we hired Caroline (Caro) Scanlan to lead our GreenSkills planting crew, to replace Katie Beechem who began working full-time with us in 2015. 
Board Chair
Laurence Nadel
Company Affiliation self-employed
Term Mar 2018 to Mar 2020
Board of Directors
Anna BartowCommunity Volunteer
Josephine Bushcommunity volunteer
Zeb Esselstyn
Gordon GeballeYale University School of Forestry
Joan Hilliard
Christine KimYale University School of Forestry
John MartinBradley Street Bike Co-op
Josh Nelkin
Sara OhlyCommunity volunteer
Erik B. PearsonSoundview Capital Management
Ed Rodriguez
Semi Semi-Dikoko
Melinda Tuhus
Susan Wells
Don Williams
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 12
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 10
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 75%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Board Governance
Program / Program Planning
Additional Boards: Advisory Board Members
Myles AldermanCommunity Volunteer
Bruce AlexanderYale University
Claire Bennitt
Chris GetmanSoundview Capital
William GinsbergCommunity Foundation for Greater New Haven
Roger Ibbotson
Stephanie JacobyCommunity Volunteer
Meghan KnightCommunity Volunteer
Lawrence LipsherCommunity Volunteer
Marta MoretCommunity Volunteer
Patricia PierceCommunity Volunteer
Douglas RaeYale University
Leigh ShemitzSoundwaters
Betty Thompson
James TraversUnited Way for Greater New Haven
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31 2019
Projected Revenue $782,074.00
Projected Expenses $801,471.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
IRS Letter of Exemption
URI IRS letter
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201820172016
Total Assets$962,680$700,501$613,447
Current Assets$962,680$700,501$613,447
Long-Term Liabilities$54,600$65,699$51,847
Current Liabilities$144,888$68,110$55,242
Total Net Assets$763,192$566,692$506,358
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201820172016
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountNew Haven Ecology Project $28,209National Fish & Wildlife Foundation $251,513The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven $212,555
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountThe Community Foundation for Greater New Haven $26,154New Haven Ecology Project $206,035National Fish & Wildlife Foundation $195,048
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountCarolyn Foundation $25,000The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven $173,594New Haven Ecology Project $189,460
Foundation Staff Comments This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Some financial information from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved has been inputted by Foundation staff. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. A more complete picture of the organization’s finances can be obtained by viewing the attached 990s and audited financials. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
Address 301 Prospect St
New Haven, CT 06511
Primary Phone 203 432-6570
CEO/Executive Director Colleen Murphy-Dunning
Board Chair Laurence Nadel
Board Chair Company Affiliation self-employed


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