Green Spaces in LA Public Schools
Climate change is severely and disproportionately affecting communities of color. Green LA Public Schools for Healthier Students would encourage and advance necessary changes to convert school campuses in high-density, low-income neighborhoods into green campuses, which not only work to combat climate change but have shown to improve health factors such as stress and anxiety and improve attention restoration. Having green campuses would also enhance the learning and working environment for everyone involved.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Green Space, Park Access, and Trees
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Fernando Valley
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
Research has proven what community has long known and experienced; the severe impacts of disinvestments in communities of color. Given the impacts of climate change, worsening Urban Heat Islands, heightened awareness of these impacts, and growing will to address the cumulative impacts of our environmental decline, the time to create climate resilient communities is now. The Los Angeles Living School Yard Coalition has leveraged the work of environmental orgs and created creative solutions to climate resilience issues. This work has shown increased access to green spaces has health benefits such as improved attention restoration, moderated impacts of stress and improved behaviors and symptoms of pre-existing mental health conditions like ADHD and anxiety. ABC has long worked to improve K-12 public education in LA and will work with the existing coalition to bring the health and education lens to the work of climate change in the community where schools can be key to finding solutions.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
The program goal is to create healthy environments in San Fernando Valley (SFV) and South LA school grounds by increasing green space and infrastructure. Program implementation will start by recruiting and training 30 parent community leaders on Climate Truthing in schools. Climate Truthing is setting a criteria that acknowledges climate disparities and informing the community on truth. Trained parents would survey schools collecting data on how schools are/are not addressing climate change effects on their students’ health and wellbeing. Data findings would influence a case study/policy report set to grow development of green space and infrastructures on campuses. Developing parent leaders who can advocate on the necessity of green spaces and the connections to health benefits contributes to this program’s uniqueness in addition to increasing community oversight on city and county spending. Additionally, our program will join existing environmental coalitions furthering the holistic lens necessary to address climate change. SFV and South LA were chosen to ensure available public funding is equitably allocated to greening schools and to help address various health issues our students are facing. The impacts of increasing green infrastructure on campuses would improve the learning environment for students with health conditions, address learning loss which has been heightened due to COVID-19, and improve the working environments for faculty and classified employees.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
The need to have a cultural understanding for our communities of color and leadership tools will be imperative to continue to advocate for community-driven solutions. Through our work and the work of the established coalition ABC would support a cohort of environmental health promotoras that would be able to continue to build community solidarity and call for proper allocations in already formulated public policy and government budget solutions. In the immediate, we would see a positive investment in green spaces and other key environmental resources for our communities to support both mental and emotional wellbeing. Long-term, ABC will activate elements of the Latino/a Scorecard Report aligned to green space. A policy recommendation is the creation of healthy environments in the SFV and South LA areas to promote more livable communities with access to more green spaces. Supporting long-term community greening will help the community thrive and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
The LA Living School Yards Coalition led a one-time project in an affluent northeast neighborhood that produced measures of success in their report. We would like to support Angelenos in low-income communities to have access to more green spaces. In LA,1.5 million residents do NOT live by a park or rec area within 10 mins of their home. LAUSD serves over 600,000 students and over 80% qualify for free/reduced meal programs. The needs in our region are high and diverse and the pandemic demonstrated how we need responsive and creative solutions. ABC is proud to implement data-driven, community-centered solutions to respond to needs. ABC knows data collection and effective program planning and implementation. Recently, ABC disbursed $1M in cash grants to residents, created a Summer Response Program for over 500 students and their parents, and many other programs followed by advocacy efforts. ABC activates partners to work collaboratively and would use similar models for this effort.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 30,000
Indirect Impact: 120,000