Mission Statement

Through partnerships and education we empower volunteer environmental stewardship in University City and its surrounding communities.


UC Green was started in 1998 by the University of Pennsylvania’s Facilities and Real Estate Services.  Neighborhood resident and Penn staffer, Esaul Sanchez, was the first executive director.  Our first office was located in a Penn-owned building at 4013 Chestnut Street.

Early on, Penn worked to combat crime, trash and blight in University City.  UC Green’s role, as then-President Judith Rodin put it, was to “unite community organizations, city agencies, university students and residents in local greening efforts.”

Esaul Sanchez recruited a team of volunteers from the community, Penn’s staff, and student body to attend the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders training.  These volunteers would then go on to form the new UC Green Tree Tenders group and launch a series of tree and public landscape plantings.

In its first year, UC Green completed over 20 individual block greening projects.  With this experience under its belt, UC Green began first-in-the-city large-scale community tree plantings.  Hundreds of volunteers planted hundreds of street trees.  In these early years, UC Green also completed new landscapes for public schools, public health centers, and public gardens.  These landscapes featuring plants native to the area, including those found in Bartram Gardens, showy exotics, and medicinal plantings.

In 2003, UC Green hired Amanda Benner as its second executive director.  Amanda worked to establish UC Green as an independent non-profit organization with its own 501(c)(3) status.  In addition, Amanda led UC Green as it worked with the Philadelphia Water Department to construct a storm water landscape, or “rain garden,” on land belonging to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (now USciences), provided logistical support for Cedar Park and Spruce Hill in their block grant projects, and initiated the UC Green Pruning Club and UC Green Corps to maintain mature street trees planted by UC Green.

Between 2003 and 2011, UC Green planted over 3,800 new street trees in University City, including those on streets and triangles in Powelton Village near Drexel University.

In 2008, Sue Pringle was hired as UC Green’s third executive director.  In addition to UC Green’s previous initiatives, Sue expanded the scope of UC Green’s environmental activities by partnering more closely with Woodland Cemetery, Bartram’s Garden, Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary; and the Walnut Hill Community Garden.  In addition, UC Green helped neighborhood volunteers construct and maintain beehives and built several community gardens.

Today, UC Green continues to improve our neighborhoods.  Through partnerships and education we empower volunteer environmental stewardship in University City and its surrounding communities.

 In Memory of Winnie Harris

UC Green remembers and honors the legacy of our long-time Programming Coordinator and acting Executive Director Winnie Harris, who tragically passed away on February 3, 2017. Winnie was the beating heart of UC Green; fiercely protective of the many youth who got their first job with the Green Corps, meticulously organized in coordinating thousands of volunteers in tree plantings and community events, and a beloved figure to the many neighbors that benefitted from her tireless passion for a greener Philadelphia. She will be dearly missed.

"Winnie Harris was born on September 1, 1951 in Philadelphia, Pa and the second child to Arthur Harris and Erlene Miles.  She attended Bok Vocational High School and graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design.  Her later credentials included certification as an Organic Land Care Manager from the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Winnie loved jazz, especially Miles Davis.  She enjoyed traveling.  She was a true foodie.  She could plate a simple bowl of oatmeal better than a 5 star restaurant.  Winnie could grow anything - veggies, flowers, fruit trees!  She lived to entertain and always felt more comfortable as a hostess than guest.

She was empoloyed at A. Pomerantz & Co. and then Thomas Jefferson University as an interior designer.  She co-owned the design firm Harris Coles & Associates.  Winnie later became the executive director for UC Green.  Her efforts increased community support for UC Green by 40% in a single year.  Many young people received their first job through Green Corps, a tree care and landscaping program created by Winnie.  She improved Philly one tree at a atime, one neighborhood at a time.

Winnie will always be remembered as a meticulous organizer, classic Virgo, proud grandmother, one time for everything, and an original urban farmer.

Winnie was predeceased by her parents Erlene Miles and Arthur Harris and sister Brenda Miles.  She leaves to cherish her memory daughter Neche; nephew EJ; niece Qiana; brothers Arthur, Warren, Waldron, and Emmanuel Sr.; and extended family and friends."

- UC Green Board of Directors

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