Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Milwaukee Public Schools, together with generous funders and community partners, has announced a multimillion dollar investment in Milwaukee schools and neighborhoods. As part of an ongoing cycle, the District is beginning work that will reduce pavement and increase green space at four MPS schools, adding to about ten previous projects completed or in progress. Improvements will include installation of bioswales to manage storm water, the addition of outdoor classrooms, tree plantings, areas to serve as school gardens, and plans for curriculum that will incorporate ecology, sustainability, and freshwater sciences. The improvements will impact neighborhoods, provide community access, and improve the quality of life in the city.
At a kickoff event on July 10, Mayor Tom Barrett, MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley, and Executive Director Kevin Shafer of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, along with students and community members, took part in a ceremony to update city residents on the upcoming improvements.
MPS and partners have embarked on an ambitious plan to develop many schoolyards across the city through the Greener Healthier Schools Program. Building from previous project successes, four schools are launching projects this month. An additional five schools are slated for schoolyard redevelopment projects in following years.
Fundraising is underway to raise $3.4 million, with approximately $1.7 million raised to date. An additional $1.7 million is needed within the next six months to support projects in 2020. Major project partners currently include Milwaukee Public Schools, the MPS Foundation, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the City of Milwaukee, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation—Sustain Our Great Lakes Program, Fund for Lake Michigan, Reflo, Funders’ Network—Partners for Places Grant, the Burke Foundation, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, private donations, in-kind contributions, and school fundraising.
Children who learn and play in green spaces, especially urban children whose environments are primarily asphalt and concrete, are shown to exhibit many benefits to academics and well-being.
• Spending time in nature advances children’s academic performance, focus, behavior, and love of learning.
• Green schoolyards enhance mental health and well-being and promote social and emotional development.
• Green schoolyards offer a variety of active play options that engage children of varying fitness levels, ages, and genders.