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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Friends of the Urban Forest

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Botanical, Horticultural & Landscape Services, Environment, Environmental Beautification

Mission: To promote a larger, healthier urban forest, as part of the urban ecosystem, through community plantings, maintenance, education, and advocacy.

Programs: Friends of the Urban Forest helps individuals and neighborhood groups plant and care for street trees and sidewalk gardens in San Francisco. This "green infrastructure" improves the city by beautifying neighborhoods, cleaning the air, raising property values and reducing polluted stormwater runoff. Since 1981, FUF has planted more than 48,000 trees, totaling 43% of the city's street tree canopy. Our program areas include planting, tree care, community engagement, training, and advocacy.

Community Stories

71 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work for California ReLeaf, a statewide NGO working on urban forestry policy in Sacramento. FUF staff members are a pleasure to work with and are great partners when it comes to advocating for funding in the State Capitol and San Francisco. They are professional and passionate about what they do to improve the City of SF. It is also great that FUF is always willing to share their knowledge with other nonprofits - they take what they have learned from being an urban forest nonprofit with organizations in other parts of California.

1 anoosh

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Trees planted and maintained by Friends of the Urban Forest have improved the streets in my neighborhood and across the city. Their wonderful email reports on what's blooming in our city and ways to support wildlife are a welcome injection of positivity in my inbox (and my life). Thank you FUF!

Paul S.5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friends of the Urban Forest is just the greatest non-profit to be a part of. I volunteer with them 2 to 3 times a year, and always have a wonderful time planting or pruning, the staff take the time to make sure that all of the volunteers understand all of the how's and why's of the projects, and they will give you as much work as you want or can handle. Overall, fuf is a win-win situation for all. The environment gets more trees which beautify our city and of course there's the oxygen thing, and you get a great sense of accomplishment, and everytime you walk down that street, you can see the growth of the tree you helped to plant. And there is a lot to learn from the staff, and there's coffee!

Nicole L.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An awesome nonprofit group aimed to improve tree diversity in urban environments. The volunteers are amazing and enthusiastic workers and the team leads are passionate and knowledgeable environmentalists.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Friends of the Urban Forest is tirelessly dedicated to planting street trees in San Francisco (over 50,000 so far) and taking care of those trees for the first 5 years. Now partnering with the San Francisco city government. Brings in many local business organizations for specific projects and for general volunteering. Also sponsors removing concrete from sidewalks and replacing it with sidewalk gardens, where there is room. There are no frills in this organization, the office is efficient and businesslike, the staff is fairly paid but no more. The money donated goes to the right place, that is, to the end result of street trees.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I used to work for them. They were great about getting the community involved and fostering relationships with the interns and volunteers. I was not as knowledgeable before walking in those doors but now I can see why they are a valuable asset to San Francisco. I hope they continue to grow and stay with us for many years to come.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco does a remarkable job beautifying our treeless streets and avenues, transforming them into the glory of tree canopies. And they are a great educational resource! TREES may well be the saviors of our planet, and Friends of the Urban Forest is making sure that our city it taking part in this effort.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have lived in the city for 40 years and have been both a volunteer(more than a handful)and a recipient(more than several)of this wonderful group and the service they provide to beautify our city. In both a scheduled neighborhood drive and specific installations Friends of the Urban Forest always fulfils. They even come out and repair when a car has smashed the tree sideways! thank you Friends of the Urban Forest!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with FUF has reinvigorated a love for this city. I feel better about San Francisco, my community, and myself every time I volunteer with them. Plus, it’s easy to bring friends along and they love it so much that they come back!

Jake K.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love how they engage the SF community with nature. They are making the city more beautiful, addressing climate change, and helping local ecosystems thrive all at once. Thank you for your work!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

FUF is a 40-year-old San Francisco non-profit that has encouraged citizens to beautify barren city streets with climate-friendly trees. My own house benefited from six saplings twenty years ago that are now six 30-foot tall trees. Despite the challenges of keeping a non-profit going through a couple of recessions, FUF thrives because of the citizen support it has maintained and the energetic, dedicated staff it has attracted.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve volunteered with FUF for several years to improve the city’s tree canopy, which is one of the worst in the urban areas in country. Greening is so critical as our climate warms, with the horrific effects increasing yearly. Volunteers work tirelessly—and joyfully—to better the city and the world.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

FUF helped us to plant a tree outside our house in 1999. It was a skinny little thing then, now it is a beauty (see photo). I think FUF is a fantastic organisation and really makes a difference in terms of greening the city, but also educating people about the importance of having trees and looking after them and importantly bringing people together. Bravo FUF, long may you continue!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Friends of the Urban Forest totally transformed out street from a somewhat barren urban hardscape to a calming and beautiful landscaped street. They were able to coordinate with required sidewalk improvements and leverage city grants to reduce storm water drainage volumes to overloaded downhill systems to go above and beyond in providing opportunities not just for new street trees but also surrounding sidewalk gardens as well. They have proven themselves dynamic and savvy in ways that benefit both their primary objective and the neighborhoods in which they operate. And we notice that their expertise in picking the perfect little native tree for under the low power lines (California lilac) has now been noticed and replicated by homeowners other places in the neighborhood.

Minnie I.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had a wonderful experience at our neighborhood tree planting organized by FUF! I didn't realize how easy it could be to get a tree in front of my house. FUF made it incredibly easy and because it was a neighborhood event, I got to meet more of my neighbors and the whole area looks so much better and greener!

Comments ( 1 )

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bencarlson 09/04/2018

Minnie, thank you for the nice review. We're glad you had such a good experience with greening your neighborhood. Please join us any time to plant more trees throughout San Francisco!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group has been in SF for I believe 30+ years and is not only responsible for beautifying and planting many of the trees in SF, but the way the plantings are organized many goals are achieved at one time: community volunteers and neighbors, working with a well trained staff pitch in to do the plantings, youth do plantings, as well as through a youth program they get valuable training in pruning, etc, and learn arborist skills. There is a potluck after each planting that brings community together. The website is so well organized and it is easy to volunteer, the calendar of events is clear. The tree care support and follow up shows they really care about their mission to green SF streets. I was very impressed with the planning meeting and the breadth of knowledge the group has about trees, specifically, the planners know which trees grow better in which areas of the city. A great non profit that benefits the community on many levels: greening the city, creating community bonds, training youth and employing young people. They are very efficient in the way they go about the tree plantings. They also reach out to corporations and students or others who need to meet community service requirements. It is a fun and productive way to spend a 1/2 day, and FUF really cares about SF and it's citizens!

Comments ( 1 )

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bencarlson 09/04/2018

Thank you for this great review!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Terrific non-profit. Has helped to transform the streets of SF with its tree planting program. Easy to work with the FUF team when organizing volunteer events. I've served as both a volunteer and a client served.

Comments ( 1 )

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bencarlson 09/04/2018

Thanks for the nice review, and for volunteering with us, and for getting a tree to make your neighborhood greener!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is a fantastic, effective, knowledgeable and hard working group...that spends its money only on trees and planting trees for everyone to enjoy.

It has little overhead...no fancy parties, no 'fundraiser balls'...and it is modest and honest. It's goals are worthy...and the results of its work can be seen every day all around SAN FRANCISCO. It's worthy of great and continuous support.

FUF has improved SAN FRANCISCO streets for the last thirty years. It plants the most beautiful trees...a variety of trees..that thrive outside schools and on forlorn streets and on busy streets and neglected areas and historic neighborhoods. I admire and support FRIENDS OF THE URBAN FOREST. BEST--DIANE DORRANS SAEKS

Comments ( 1 )

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bencarlson 09/04/2018

Thank you very much Diane!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering for FUF when I was new to San Francisco. My front yard was cement and needed some life! I signed up to plant a tree and have since helped others plant front yard trees. FUF helps beautify the city, clean the air, improve your mood with increased green space, and increase habitat for birds and bees. These people are dedicated to increasing the Urban greenscape and we all benefit!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love FUF!! I have had two trees planted in my front yard and also had cement removed and a new front yard planted! I became my block captain; I didn't succeed the first go around to get 5 households to plant but I did the second time! After one tree died, FUF agreed to replace my tree! This is a great organization and wonderful people who work there! 5 stars for sure! You all rock!

Donor

Rating: 5

I walk around many neighborhoods in the city of San Francisco and just about everywhere I walk, I see the results of my donation: trees planted in sidewalks. And, I find the newsletter very helpful in telling me about watering to maintain existing trees, weeds that should be pulled, how to get services, and other interesting topics. The newsletter is just right, not too long or too short so I read all of it. They also respond quickly to email inquiries such as my question about the gravel around the base of the new trees planted in the widened sidewalks in the Castro. The assured me the dense gravel was permeable.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Urban forestry is an important field that needs more Supporters such as Friends of the Urban Forest.

Heguiberto S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They are doing for SF what the city chose not to: street tree planting and maintenance in the tree early years. Shame on you SF and kudos to the Friends of the Urban Forest!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having administered many grant projects awarded to Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) over the years, it has been a pleasure to see these many dollars work wonders at the local level. Between their fundraising, advocacy and outreach, education of local citizen foresters and operational talents, FUF is truly an integral facet of the urban forest community and of the city they have worked so hard to positively transform. They would almost assuredly act as an influential and productive partner for anyone looking to work with them.

Donor

Rating: 5

Friends of the UrbanForest are the reason for our beautiful Olive tree on our front sidewalk. They have helped plant many other trees in our neighborhood and throughout San Francisco. Not to mention the sidewalk gardens they create. Their work helps create clean air and habitat for birds and pollinators. We love FUF!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I thought Friends of the urban forest was just something out of San Francisco's history. But then I saw a Facebook post offering an urban forestry course for verney or work exchange. So I took it and what a fabulous dynamic strong community group it is. Caring for trees which are essential to our survival through the climate change trials and bringing in teenagers who are less advantaged showing them the beauty and wonder and importanceof trees. Friends of the urban forest Deserves all the alkaloids; stronger community,better informed community, healthier communities. Friends of the urban Forest Fosters not only good citizenship but also good planetary keepership. may we all do more to sequester carbon in the soil.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I lived in San Francisco for 12 years (1996-2008), in the Outer Richmond district out near the ocean, which is relatively barren of trees. I decided to do personally do something about this lack of trees; get involved to feel better than frustrated, sad, and powerless about the lack of greenery around my apt. and neighborhood.

I'd heard about FUF, saw their signs on newly-planted street trees, and called them up. In short, I ended up taking the leap in as a volunteer planting manager in my neighborhood. To be honest, it was more work than I thought it would be — but completely worth it. As the saying goes, you get out of something what you put into it. For instance, in going door-to-door to ask who'd be willing to join my/our local tree-planting campaign by putting one one in front of their home ( having them ask their landlord to allow it, as mine did), I met dozens of fellow tree and nature lovers!

I also learned that even people who don't love trees like I do can be convinced because their PROPERTY'S VALUE INCREASES by having trees out front to provide shade, sound-deadening tree canopies, and trees' aesthetic beauty.

I've since moved out of the city, but still have a great appreciation and respect for this little organization that has planted so many thousands of street trees, adding so much life and quiet and clean air to SF — and building communities of nature-loving friends to get out there and actively demonstrate the value of trees — by planting them.

More trees, please! Thank you, Friends of the Urban Forest.

Donor

Rating: 5

Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) is an excellent very well run non-profit providing a much needed service in the City of San Francisco. FUF provides the opportunity for beautifying the city while making an important impact on our global warming issues. They provide a much needed effort to expand the greenery in the city and work closely with the city's parks dept. to make a bigger difference for our community. I strongly support their work and encourage any of you checking on them to do the same.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was part of our neighborhood planting, which brought trees to many completely tree-less areas. In addition to the help with flood control, it makes our street look warm and inviting.

Throughout the whole process, I was impressed with the knowledge and professionalism of the business. San Francisco has micro climates, which means individual blocks would support different kind of trees. After consultation, I now have a tree that is specifically chosen for my conditions.

I also love the fact that they don't just plant and go, but do periodic checkups on the health of the tree.

And a really nice part of the whole process was getting to know some of my neighbors, since all plantings were done by local residents (with some volunteers.)

Donor

Rating: 5

This has to be one of the most inclusive and helpful nonprofits in the Bay Area. They fight to get tree plantings done in all areas of the city, educate youth and the adult citizens about drought tolerant trees, and explain issues to voters such as taking care of street trees being part of the city budget. One of the BEST out there!

1 Dipesh P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I signed up with Friends of the Urban Forest to give a little something back to the city and meet great people. Score on both counts! The staff at FUF are super nice and friendly and the other volunteers are great as well - bad people don't plant trees!

Plus it's really nice to see different parts of the city that I normally wouldn't go to on my own. And seeing a neighborhood transform in just a day with all the newly planted trees is just awesome.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I get excited everytime I see the FUF label on a tree, new or old! FUF gave me the opportunity not just to plant trees but to explore a neighborhood I've never spent time in before.

Christopher57

Volunteer

Rating: 5

10 years ago Friends of the Urban Forest came to my horticulture class at City College looking for interns for their tree care program. This was my first introduction to the proper care and maintenance of trees. After the year I got a job as ground crew for a tree trimming service. A year later I passed my ISA certification and was promoted to being a climber. Two years later I started my own business. Four years later Trees Company became incorporated and now has five full time employees. We continue to volunteer for the organization that got me started on my path.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In my first FUF experience, I was struck by how many neighbors approached us while we were planting to thank us. They truly appreciate the work FUF does for their streets. We even had one nice fellow pound in the last nail of the tree brace! It's a great org that improves the quality of life for the community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every time I finish a volunteer stint with FUF, I walk away knowing that (1) I've improved the lives of people (and any living being) right now and in the future; (2) I've done something to create community in the participating neighborhoods. Basically, FUF doesn't just plant trees, it seeds hope - for now and the future.