The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability announced today that 28 schools will be awarded funding to implement sustainability programming in their classrooms for the 2020-21 school year. In a typical year, schools submit applications to the program in the hopes of receiving funding of up to $3,000 for original school-based sustainability projects. However, given the uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Sustainability had to make a few changes to the program.
Rather than applying with original project ideas, schools were offered a “menu” of options to choose from. These options included sustainability-themed curriculums offered through local nonprofit organizations. The main benefit of this change was that all curriculums could be completed whether students are meeting in the classroom or virtually.
“We know that the pandemic has caused significant challenges for teachers, students and parents,” said Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer. “We are excited to adapt this program in a way that will support our students and nonprofit groups in these difficult and uncertain times, while keeping sustainability top-of-mind in classrooms across Austin.”
The Office of Sustainability received 30 applications from 28 schools, and is proud to announce that every school that applied will receive funding. Of these schools, 12 are classified as Title 1, which include high numbers of students from low-income families.
- Five schools will work with the Ghisallo Cycling Initiative on bicycle safety, repairs and how to grow into becoming lifelong, safety conscious riders: TA Brown Elementary, Josephine Houston Elementary, Russell Lee Elementary, Bailey Middle School and Burnet Middle School.
- Watt Watchers of Texas, an online program designed to help schools and families save energy and money, will help five schools monitor their energy efficiency actions during class and track energy savings: Walnut Creek, Cowan, Becker and Pillow Elementary Schools, and Lively Middle School.
- PEAS (Partners in Education Agriculture and Sustainability) will provide curriculum that helps build community through vegetable gardening, tree care and identification, native plant care, and more to ten schools: Cunningham, Rodriguez, Mertz, Maplewood, Boone, Sunset Valley and Sanchez Elementary Schools, O’Henry and Burnet Middle Schools, and the Whole Life Learning Center.
- EcoRise will help a new generation of leaders to tackle real-world challenges by teaching sustainability, design innovation and social entrepreneurship at ten schools: Becker, Govalle, Walnut Creek, Andrews, Dawson, Gullet and Anderson Mill Elementary Schools, as well as the Austin Discovery School, Foundation Communities, and IDEA Austin.
Funding for the Bright Green Future Grant program is provided by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, Urban Forestry Program, Austin Resource Recovery, Watershed Protection Department, and Austin Transportation Department.
About Bright Green Future Grants
Sponsored by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, 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. To date, more than 300 projects at local K-12 schools have been funded with Bright Green Future Grants; these projects have saved 1.2 million gallons of water, produced 40,000 pounds of vegetables, and avoided 16.2 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions through miles traveled by bike instead of by car. Nearly 70,000 students have participated in implementing Bright Green Future Grant projects. For more information, visit www.austintexas.gov/brightgreenfuture.
About the Office of Sustainability
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability works to ensure a thriving, equitable, and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin. The Office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a healthy and just local food system, resource efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, and a resilient and adaptive city. Find out more at www.austintexas.gov/sustainability.