Berkeley Youth Alternatives provides minimum-wage positions for roughly 15 young people, aged 14-18, who work during the school year and over the summer maintaining two city parks: Strawberry Creek Park and Grove Street Park. The landscaping program is one of many run by BYA. The youth also work on BYA’s own community garden on Bancroft Way between West and Bonar. The program employs three staff, two full-time, and one part-time, according to BYA’s Executive Assistant Vivian McBride.
In an effort to cut costs, the city last month recommended eliminating the program, which costs $57,000 and is funded by Berkeley’s general fund. Despite petitions from the organization and supporters, BYA was given notice in June that the program would no longer be funded.
However, the program will be able to continue unril the end of August, McBride said, after an injection of funds by CalWORKs, a government-run welfare program.
After that, the future looks bleak for the BYA landscaping program. “We have had support for this program since 1994. We don’t know where we will get funds to continue it,” said McBride.