The program will fund 70 student-led sustainability projects in 2019, up from 28 in 2018
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability announced today that 58 schools will receive funding support to implement 70 sustainability projects that are expected to benefit over 30,000 students. These projects will offer students hands-on learning opportunities and lessons in environmental stewardship, while also providing tangible community benefits to school campuses and their surrounding neighborhoods. Winning projects are located in every Austin City Council District, and cover five different school districts including AISD, Round Rock ISD, Georgetown ISD, Leander ISD, and Del Valle ISD, as well as several private schools, Travis County Juvenile Justice Alternative, and the Texas School for the Deaf.
“As Austin continues to seek innovative solutions to address climate change and preserve nature in the city, fostering sustainability thinking and practices in the next generation of Austinites is critical. These are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens. “The large number of highly creative projects proposed by teachers and parents should give us all hope for a resilient future.”
Projects receiving a Bright Green Future Grant this year demonstrated creative approaches to addressing light pollution, producing energy, caring for trees, and reducing the risk of wildfire:
Students at the Liberal Arts & Sciences Academy (LASA) will photograph the night sky from varying points around campus to measure and contrast light levels. This Light Pollution Survey will provide the foundation for establishing outdoor lighting standards for AISD facilities.
Students implementing the Digital Tree Monitoring Project at Chaparral Star Academy will create a solar-powered network of digital environmental and soil sensors around campus to collect and report data that will inform efficient ways of watering and caring for trees.
A Wind Turbine Garden Project at Round Rock Opportunity Center will use clean wind energy to power a water-wise drip irrigation system to water their community garden.
Small Middle School will partner the Austin Fire Department with teachers, students, and their families to design a Firewise Demonstration Garden that reduces the risk of wildfire.
Bright Green Future Grants will also fund bicycle academies, rain gardens, outdoor learning spaces, community gardens, wildlife habitats, and waste reduction efforts at local schools:
Cycle Academies improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve health by getting kids out of cars and onto bikes. These academies will teach students about bike safety and maintenance at Brooke, Harris, Hart, Houston, Langford, Perez, Rodriquez, Sanchez, andZavala Elementary Schools; Kealing Middle School; and Eastside Memorial High School.
Rain Garden Projects at Barrington, Kiker, Mathews, Perez, River Place, St. Elmo, Sunset Valley, Wieland, Williams, Wooldridge, and Zilker Elementary Schools; Magnolia Montessori; Fulmore Middle School; Harris Early College Prep; and the Forbes Child Development Center will conserve water, provide education about native plants, and minimize soil erosion.
Partners for Education Agriculture and Sustainability (PEAS) will provide gardening and outdoor science lessons at Barrington, Blackshear, Boone, Brooke, Metz, Pease, River Oaks, and Winn Elementary Schools.
Growing vegetables in school gardens at Austin Achieve, Caraway, and Ortega Elementary Schools; Del Valle Opportunity Center; Valor Public Schools; Whole Life Learning Center; Hernandez Middle School; and Sci-Tech High School will help students learn about healthy food options while reducing the carbon impact of transporting vegetables from farm to grocery store to table.
At Andrews, Kocurek, Anderson Mill, Caraway, Ridgetop, Boone, Spicewood, and Mathews Elementary Schools; The Headwaters School; Texas School for the Deaf; Travis County Juvenile Justice Center; Austin Montessori; and St. Andrews Episcopal School, students will disconnect from screens and reconnect with nature in Outdoor Classrooms shaded by new trees. Research has shown that children who spend some time outdoors each day are healthier, happier, and perform better academically.
Maplewood and Summit Elementary Schools, and Athena Montessori will plant and maintain a Wildlife Garden that provides habitat for a variety of native pollinators and birds.
Students at Boone, Redeemer Lutheran, and Lee Elementary Schools will raise awareness about the impact of plastic on the environment through the “Pledge to Go Plastic Free” recycling campaign, and installation of water bottle refilling stations on campus.
Funding for these 70 innovative sustainability projects at local elementary, middle, and high schools is provided by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, Urban Forestry Program, Austin Resource Recovery, Watershed Protection Department, and Austin Transportation Department.