History & Mission

Ashoka's Community Greens, an initiative of Ashoka, restores community to neighborhoods across the country, enhances the environment, and empowers citizens by integrating citizen-managed shared green spaces into places where people live and work.

Ashoka is the largest association of social entrepreneurs in the world — men and women with system-changing solutions for the world's most urgent social problems.  Founded on the premise that the most effective way to promote positive social change is to invest in social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions that are sustainable and replicable, both nationally and globally.

Ashoka's Community Greens helps residents, government leaders, and citizen sector organizations come together to develop incentives and policies that catalyze the development of these new urban commons. With assistance from Community Greens, citizens merge their backyards, transform alleys from blighted spaces to community places, and give life to vacant lots in a manner that is sustainable and systems-changing.


  • Founded as an offshoot of Ashoka, by Ashoka founder Bill Drayton in 2001. 
  • Spearheaded a state wide legislature in Maryland, which changed the City Charter which allows the city to lease and gate alleys to homeowners.
  • Started the Alley Gating and Alley Greening pilot project in Baltimore in 2006.
  • Local ordinance passed in the City of Baltimore in 2007.
  • As of 2009, there are 3 completely gated and greened alleys in Baltimore and over 70 applications from interested neighborhoods.


The mission of Community Greens is to catalyze the development of shared green spaces inside residential neighborhoods in cities across the United States. We call these green spaces community greens. We believe that the Community Greens approach presents the best opportunity to add usable green space to our cities by converting underutilized backyards and dysfunctional alleys into functional and beautiful shared green spaces that are owned, managed, and enjoyed by the people who live around them.