Urban Resources Initiative is a not-for-profit university partnership whose mission is to foster community-based land stewardship, promote environmental education and advance the practice of urban forestry.
With its formal incorporation in 1991, URI became a stand-alone fiscal and legal nonprofit governed by a local board of directors. Though closely affiliated with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, this autonomy assures a governing body whose diverse interests represent all corners of New Haven.
Urban Resources Initiative began in Baltimore in 1989. At the invitation of Baltimore's Director of Parks and Recreation, Yale Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES) Professor William Burch sent Yale students to Baltimore to apply the principles of social forestry to the education of teenagers and the development of neighborhood forestry groups. Social forestry – originally designed for rural areas of developing countries – uses community participation and human resources to restore damaged ecosystems. Sustainability of projects is encouraged through local control and management.
The techniques developed in the Baltimore URI were readily adopted in New Haven. As the New Haven program developed its own agenda, an Advisory Board separated from Yale and formally incorporated as New Haven URI in 1991. Its continued, close relationship with Yale brings the expertise of faculty and graduate students to the local community while offering graduate student interns the opportunity for practical field training.