If the current state of the union has you more than a little dismayed, take solace in the fact that things will hopefully get better as future generations step up with a more compassionate, understanding outlook for our world. But there’s no need to wait to see these future generations in action, because some local groups are making strides to improve our world as it is today.

One City of Austin program helps to highlight and support students’ efforts to make sure that our environment isn’t totally destroyed. The Bright Green Futures program, administered by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, recently released its list of grant recipients. The sustainability programs that these students have planned — including work around water conservation, waste reduction, growing healthy food, and learning about bike safety — will help to inspire them to become lifelong environmental stewards.

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The grant is sponsored by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, Austin Resource Recovery and the Watershed Protection, Public Works, and Transportation Departments. The competitive grant is a competitive program that was launched in 2012 to recognize and support innovative sustainability programs. To date, 155 projects at local K-12 schools have been funded with the grants.

“Kids are passionate about Austin’s bright green future,” Lucia Athens, the City of Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer said. “These projects allow students to learn about environmental responsibility in a real-world application that has long-term benefits for the entire community.”

This year’s grant pool totaled around $63,000 distributed to 29 projects across local elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as community partners. Funds will soon make their way to the campuses, and projects will begin this spring. Most projects will be wrapped up by the end of the school year, with a few running into the summer.

Want to get involved? Of course, each campus’ program is its own, but we doubt any of them would turn down the offer of added funds or volunteer hours to help support these efforts. 

 

The following projects are this year’s recipients of Bright Green Futures Grants:

 

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS:

Cycle Academies at Blackshear, Cunningham, Hart, Houston, Langford, Pecan Springs, Perez, Reilly, and St. Elmo will teach students how to safely ride their bikes.

The Rainwater Redistribution project at Sims will capture rainwater from buildings and use it to water gardens and trees.

Educating students about the importance of water conservation will be the main goal of the Rain Garden at Brooks.

Recycling and composting will be the focus of the Green and Healthy Classroom at Foundation Communities.

Dobie Pre-K’s Outdoor Learning Center will teach students about how to grow native plants and vegetables.

At the Athena Montessori School, the Carbon Footprint Project will teach students bike safety and the importance of Air Quality.

The Whole Life Learning Center hopes to promote a healthy habitat for plants and animal species with the Pond Restoration project.

PEAS Community (Partners for Education Agriculture and Sustainability) will be installing a Community Garden at Lucy Read Pre-K.

Boone students will be able to conduct classes outside at the new Peace Pond Outdoor Learning Space.

Installation of the WaterWise Garden at Oak Hill will provide a drought tolerant school garden to address limited freshwater resources.

Maplewood’s Compostable Campus, will provide recycling bins for classrooms, as well as compostable bags for the Lunch Bunch that eats outside.

A 1.5-acre wooded lot will be transformed for students to explore “the world in their backyard” at the Laurel Mountain Natural Play Rain Garden.

Located in an area classified a food desert by the USDA, KIPP Academy’s Aquaponics Greenhouse will provide an area to grow fresh vegetables using little water.

The Rainscape at Metz, will collect rainwater runoff from the school roof that has been eroding the school yard.

 

MIDDLE SCHOOLS:

The Community Garden at Mendez will provide a food forest for the community, and the Compost Happens project will educate students about ways to reduce waste and provide compost for the garden.

The Integrity Academy’s Bike Program will encourage students to donate bikes that are no longer used to be repaired and donated to those in need.

Partnering with the American Honey Bee Protection Agency, Wholesome Generation’s Honey Bee Apiary will provide pollinators for the campus garden and teach students about the importance of bees.

Covington’s Build a Greenhouse project will provide an area for seedlings to grow, as well as safe storage for garden tools and supplies.

The Bailey Tree Farm will plant native trees with the highest quality root system, to establish quickly with minimal water usage.

 

HIGH SCHOOLS:

Griffin School’s Waste Diversion Plan is the first step toward the school’s goal of zero waste; students will initiate an educational social media campaign to provide information and resources for the community.

Educating students and their parents about appropriate waste stream management is the central point of the NYOS Fall Fest Recycling project.

 

These projects are all downright awe-inspiring, and we wish them the best of luck with them! Stay tuned for an update on some of them after they wrap up at the end of the school year.


Featured photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons licensed

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