APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
As MGR moves towards an expansion of the GREEN Community Schools model, they will be working closely with the National GREEN Community Schools Advisory Board to determine the best method for expansion. The Foundation has reached out to various cities across the United States to gauge interest. When considering program expansion, they take into account 2 main factors before committing to a city. 1) Environmental needs. MGR's goal is to reach out to the cities in greatest need of environmental reform. 2) Partnerships. By assessing the viability of quality and committed partnerships, MGR is able to evaluate the potential success rate for a city. MGR intends on implementing GREEN Community Schools at one school per city, creating a comprehensive community-based model for the region.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Over the next 5 years, MGR intends on serving an additional two schools per year in different cities, implementing a total of 10 schools by the spring of 2015.
2010-2011: Chicago, IL & Detroit, MI (total of 2 programs)
2011 - 2012: Minneapolis, MN & Philadelphia, PA (total of 4 programs)2012 - 2013: New York, NY & Pittsburgh, PA (total of 6 programs)
2013 - 2014: Locations TBD (total of 8 programs)
2014 - 2015: Locations TBD (total of 10 programs)
During each school year, MGR will follow a similar process for establishing the GREEN Community Schools program in each city. Below is a school year timeline that will be repeated in the following 5 years.
July - September:
Meet with school districts in partnering cities to determine which underserved schools would be best suited for the GREEN Community Schools program. Meet with city officials to garner local governmental support. Work with local corporations, foundations, individuals, and governmental agencies to secure financial support and commitment.
Recruit a dedicated GCS Resource Coordinator who will be located directly in the school as an employee of the MGR Foundation to oversee all activities. This person will function as the critical communication bridge and organizer between all GREEN Community Schools stakeholders, students, parents, teachers, school personnel, external partners, and community members.
October - December:
Form a local Advisory Board and Leadership Council. The Advisory Board will include students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members that will have the responsibility of overseeing program planning, guidance, and promotion through the use of data from needs assessments, energy audits, and program evaluations. The Advisory Board will meet once a month and will work closely with the Resource Coordinator as well as the visionary leaders from MGR, including Jayni Chase. The Leadership Council will include external community partners such as committed individuals, corporations, government agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations.
The GCS Resource Coordinator will work to establish partnerships with local organizations and individuals, utilizing the many effective programs already established. She/he will work with the school's teachers and administrators to integrate these programs into the curriculum.
The Leadership Council will work with the GCS Resource Coordinator in acquiring resources, media promotion, networking and support for the GREEN Community Schools program.
January - June:
Students and community members will be able to access opportunities related to environmental education. These offerings will fall within MGR's three focus areas including: 1) Curriculum Integration, 2) Out-of-School Offerings, and 3) Community Building. These activities might include campus energy/food/water audits; improvement of school feeding programs; GIS mapping of healthy food options; experiential learning activities; internships; skill based professional training programs; life skills development; service learning experiences; vacant lot transformations; soil testing; enrichment programs for parents/community members; etc.
At the end of the year, all progress will be independently assessed and programs will be adjusted accordingly.
Schools in the United States are in desperate need of 'greening.' The problem is so vast and the issues so wide, it will take a coordinated effort to address every problem. The GREEN Community School model was design specifically to confront the many facets of this complex matter.
US children are spending their days in unhealthy buildings, often breathing indoor air pollutants. Most of our school buildings have outdated technologies which are not energy efficient and require more funds for electricity, heating, lighting, and cooling than should be necessary. School food service companies too often provide foods that are high in sugars and fats and low in nutrition. Additionally, school foods often travel long distances and are not fresh. It is important to make fresh, local foods available to students. Urban schoolchildren spend very little time outside in natural environments. Studies show that experiences in nature are vital to feeling connected with and responsible for natural resources. It's vital for quality of life and overall health, including mental health, for human beings to spend time outdoors. The hours spent in front of televisions or computer monitors have increased significantly, keeping our youth inside and sedentary. (<http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Be-Out-There/Why-Be-Out-There/Special-Rep... )
Related to the consumption of sugary and fatty foods, there has been a huge increase in childhood obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. According to the Center for Disease Control, this is the first generation of children who are expected to have shorter life expectancies than their parents; schools may be partly to blame for this health crisis. Using the environment as the integrating context is a good way to build capable, healthy, and connected future generations.
During the 2009-2010 school year, GREEN Community Schools was able to gather a multitude of resources to address many of the issues listed above. For example, students participated in trips to local beaches for Cleanup Days and to the Indiana Dunes for environmental immersion. Their science, math, and literacy curriculum was integrated with environmental study units. Students lead facility energy audits, raised thousands of dollars to bring solar power to the school and created a community garden to support local food and community development. Focus groups were lead with community groups to identify the most important environmental issues and over 20 partnerships were formed to address these issues. By placing a GREEN Community Schools Resource Coordinator in the building, MGR was able to motivate many helping hands to tackle the enormous problems facing local schools.