Austin area students, teachers and parents have envisioned a bright green future through a variety of hands-on learning projects that encompass composting systems, rainwater harvesting, organic gardens, bike academies, and wildlife habitats.
Last week, the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability announced funding for 19 of these projects at area K-12 schools, including 15 Austin ISD schools, through the Bright Green Future Grants program.
The program is sponsored by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability and funded by Austin Resource Recovery, Watershed Protection, Austin Water Utility, the Public Works Department, and Austin Energy.
“A green mindset, coupled with problem-solving skills, is critical for our youth,” said the City’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Lucia Athens. “The creative thinking and evident passion and enthusiasm behind these projects gives me great hope for our community’s future.”
The following AISD projects are recipients of this year’s Bright Green Future Grants:
To get students outside and learning from nature, Blackshear’s Bridge Garden will improve and maintain the school’s sustainable campus, which is frequently used for student Enrichment Time.
Cunningham’s PEAS, or Partners for Education, Agriculture and Sustainability, is a community garden that will be expanded to include a rain garden and gazebo that will double as an outdoor classroom.
The GO (Growing Opportunities) project at Doss will promote water conservation by using a rainwater harvesting system to capture and retain the water needed to irrigate a garden on campus.
A Rain Collection System at Hill Elementary will teach students about the importance of water conservation by using rain water to irrigate existing native plants on campus.
The Explore, Restore & More program at Norman will provide natural science education programming that features hands-on learning and habitat restoration work.
Pease’s Outdoor Science and Learning Lab will be a new outdoor classroom designed with recycled materials, and featuring a rainwater collection system and solar panels.
The new Courtyard Pond at Perez Elementary will supplement Food and Shelter resources already on campus, to help achieve certification from the National Wildlife Foundation as a Wildlife Habitat.
Williams’ Community Garden will teach students and their families how to create, maintain, and harvest a garden, as well as provide access to healthier and more affordable food.
Zavala’s Cycle Academy will encourage students to ride their bikes daily and safely, while the Green Beacon Project will rejuvenate the campus with native plants irrigated by a rainwater capturing system. In addition, a recycling station will be created that will be shared with the surrounding community.
Students at Bailey Middle School will learn about the Dryland Farming Technique for Growing Fruit Trees, empowering them to grow healthy fruit with proven water conservation techniques.
Kealing’s Gardens will be expanded to include additional beds and a rain water collection system, while the Cycle Academy will focus on bike safety and maintenance skills, and promote an action-oriented, healthy lifestyle.
The Tech Academy at Small will include greenhouses for native plants, raised beds for food gardens, composting facilities, and furniture construction from repurposed materials.
Eastside’s Garden and Outdoor Classroom will revitalize an existing vegetable garden and incorporate native vegetation, compost bins, and water catchment receptacles.
Garza’s Garden will include a community garden, landscaping with native plants, compost areas, an outdoor classroom, rainwater collection areas, and building recycling.
A new Outdoor Classroom at Travis will teach students about the entire cycle of food growth, from soil preparation to harvesting, with a new garden, compost system, flow form, and wicking bed for plant growth.
About Bright Green Future Grants
Sponsored by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, and funded by Austin Resource Recovery, Watershed Protection, Austin Water Utility, the Public Works Department and Austin Energy, Bright Green Future Grants is a competitive program that provides funding for school-based sustainability projects. Launched in 2012, the grants program was designed to recognize and support innovative projects that will inspire students to become lifelong environmental stewards. This year, the Bright Green Future Grants program received 39 applications for funding consideration; 19 projects were selected for $3,000 grants by a panel of judges composed of Office of Sustainability staff, representatives from funding departments, and community members who serve on the City’s Environmental Board, Electric Utility Board, Sustainable Food Policy Board, Water and Wastewater Commission, and Zero Waste Advisory Commission.
For more information, visit www.austintexas.gov/brightgreenfuture.