What is the Living Schoolyard Grant Program?
The 2022-23 San Mateo County Living Schoolyard Grant Program supports school communities with up to a $5,000 grant to either start or maintain a living schoolyard effort. This program provides one-time funding that is only available in the 2022-23 school year. The application process has closed for this opportunity.
What is a "Living Schoolyard?"
For this grant program, a “Living Schoolyard” is defined as a feature or element that supports student learning, diversifies play opportunities, and enhances the ecological benefits of a school grounds. This grant program recognizes that developing living schoolyards is an equitable way to provide regular access to high-quality green spaces for every child at that school.
Research has demonstrated that living schoolyards increase educational and health equity for all students. Additionally, living schoolyard elements can increase local biodiversity, benefit natural habitats, and integrate natural systems into the built environment.
Grant Program Requirements and Objectives
The grant program's objectives are designed to ensure the longevity of living schoolyard initiatives and elements. Through research and experience, it is clear that the most impactful initiatives include the following: well-designed and planned elements, prioritization of student involvement, connections with community-based partner organizations, and efforts to share the stories and impact with the broader community. With that in mind, the grant program has been designed to achieve the following objectives for each site.
Eligibility and Prioritization
Eligibility and prioritization has been based on the following criteria:
- This grant can only be used at a public school (including charters) within San Mateo County.
- Priority has been given to schools in districts with a high Equity Index, a multiple measure score that reflects funding gaps, student performance, and panel recommendations.
- Priority has been given to schools with gardens or outdoor learning programs that are less than five years old (started no earlier than 2017-18).
Awardees in 2022-23 are the following school communities:
- Cabrillo Unified School District: Agricultural Science at Cunha
- Cabrillo Unified School District: Farallone View Elementary Outdoor Classroom Revitalization
- Jefferson Elementary School District: Garden Village Elementary School
- Jefferson Elementary School District: Woodrow Wilson Elementary School
- Jefferson Elementary School District: John F. Kennedy Elementary School
- Jefferson Union High School District: Westmoor Extension of the Don Delbon Native Plant Garden
- Jefferson Union High School District: Oceana Garden Classroom
- Menlo Park City School District: Oak Knoll Elementary School Acorn Alley
- Redwood City School District: Henry Ford Outdoor Education Garden Program
- San Bruno Park Elementary: Portola Outdoor Learning Spaces
- San Carlos School District: San Carlos Charter Living Schoolyard Expansion Project
- San Mateo Union High School District: Bridge Biodiversity and Sustainability Garden Project
- San Mateo Union High School District: Hillsdale Community Garden (in support of Hillsdale Peace Pantry)
- Sequoia High School District: Phase II Redwood High School Grounds for Change
Final Report Overview
By May 14, 2023, grantees will be required to submit a report that will include a summary of how the grant funds were applied to advancing living schoolyard efforts at the site and how they were utilized for student learning. The report should include photos as well as testimonials and quotes from teachers and students. Content from this report will be used for a 2023 Living Schoolyard Month feature article written by the San Mateo County Office of Education.
To learn more about Living Schoolyards and their great benefits for academic, social, and physical health, visit the following resources:
- SMCOE Toolkit: Sustainable Land Ecosystems on School Grounds
- Green Schoolyards America: Living Schoolyards Overview
- Children and Nature Network: Green Schoolyards