The City of Austin will fund 45 student-led sustainability projects in the 2021-22 school year
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability announced today that 41 Austin-area K-12 schools will receive funding to implement 45 sustainability projects that are expected to benefit 15,000 students. Nearly half of the schools receiving a grant qualify for Title 1 funding, which include a larger percentage of students from low-income families. These projects will offer hands-on learning opportunities, make school campuses greener, and provide tangible benefits to surrounding neighborhoods.
Projects were selected from every Austin City Council District, representing schools in Austin ISD, several private schools, and a few schools in Eanes, Leander, and Round Rock ISDs. Each project will receive up to $3,000 to implement their project. This year, nine schools will create spaces for outdoor learning.
“The pandemic has not gone away, and it’s now more important than ever to have safe outdoor spaces for student learning,” said Lucia Athens, Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Almost every project funded this year will bring students outside.”
The Office of Sustainability received 75 applications from 53 schools. The following projects were awarded funding through a competitive process:
- Outdoor learning spaces help students stay safe and healthy. In addition, research has shown that children who spend time outdoors are happier and perform better academically. At Blazier, Menchaca, Becker, Linder, Patton, Highland Park, and Rodriguez Elementary Schools, Bowie High School, ABH Community School, and the Harmony School of Excellence, students will connect with nature and breathe fresh air in outdoor classrooms.
- Bicycle clubs improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve health by getting students out of cars and on bikes. This year’s clubs will teach students about bike safety and maintenance at Allison, Langford, Sanchez, Hart, Perez, Houston, Rodriquez, St. Elmo, Reilly, Harris, Oak Springs, Ortega, and Overton Elementary Schools.
- Rain garden projects at Magnolia Montessori For All and Mills, Lee, Cunningham, Anderson Mills, Sunset Valley, and Grandview Hills Elementary Schools will help conserve water, provide education about native plants, and minimize soil erosion.
- Growing vegetables in school gardens at Linder, Campbell, Zilker, and UT Elementary Schools, the Mendez STEM Academy, Bailey Middle School, Bowie High School, and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy will help students learn about healthy food options while reducing the carbon impact of transporting vegetables from farm to grocery store to table.
- Barton Creek and Brentwood Elementary Schools, and St. Ignatius will plant and maintain a wildlife garden to provide habitat for various native pollinators and birds. An aviary at Govalle Elementary will help students understand the critical role bees play in our environment.
- Students at Austin Discovery School, Alternative Learning Center, and Maplewood Elementary will create recycling and composting programs for students and their families.
Funding for the Bright Green Future Grants program is provided through a collaborative effort among six different City of Austin departments, including:
- Office of Sustainability
- Austin Resource Recovery
- Austin Transportation Department
- Austin Water
- Development Services Department – Urban Forestry Program
- Watershed Protection Department