Keep Chicago Beautiful, Chicago, IL

Vicky Kleros, the principal of Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School, believed that if she could create a space that was quiet, beautiful and special, her students would be better readers. So Ms. Kleros created a “Reading Garden” on school grounds. She was very successful. However, the funds to increase the scope and shape of the small garden were not available. But with a little help from Keep Chicago Beautiful, the school has increased the size of the garden and filled it with new native plants. The plants were supplied by KCB, but the students served as the gardeners and enjoyed every minute!

Captain Planet Foundation, Atlanta, GA

Thanks to the Keep America Beautiful & Lowe’s Community Grant Program, The Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) successfully installed the Captain Planet Learning Gardens (CPLG) Program in 8 Ventura County elementary schools, impacting a grand total of 7,425 students!

CPF provided the schools with all necessary Learning Garden Tools to launch the program, including garden installation, interpretive garden signs for self-guided learning, garden-based lesson plans tied to standards (three lessons per grade K-5), lesson supply kits for each lesson, supplies needed to teach lessons outdoors, a mobile cooking cart, 2-day professional development/teacher training workshop, a plan for summer garden maintenance and a ‘Sustainability Toolkit.’

By participating in this program, students came away with a better understanding of their everyday connections to nature, a deeper understanding of food origins, and a heightened interest in fresh foods. When CPF chose Ventura County as a location to host a California Pilot of the CPLG Program, we wanted to:

– Increase the visibility and awareness of Keep America Beautiful within a county where there is currently no KAB affiliate
– Help children in this underserved county make the connection between the food they eat daily and the agricultural basin in which they live.

Through this program, students learned core subjects in the context of a garden, were able to taste and consume fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the garden, and participate in cooking demonstrations facilitated by the mobile cooking cart. Teachers reported that students were extremely receptive to trying new fruits and vegetables and were eager to spend more time in the garden!

Through a series of surveys we collected, we learned that even the teachers benefited a great deal as well! Many of our target educators felt inspired and engaged, felt that the professional development workshop hosted by CPF was one of the best they’ve attended, and in some cases, teachers began to write their own garden based lessons beyond those included with the Program.

Thank you Keep America Beautiful & Lowe’s for allowing CPF to bring our successful Learning Gardens Program to California! We hope to work with you again soon!

Keep Clinton, MS Beautiful – Clinton, MS

In 2013, Keep Clinton, MS Beautiful received a grant from Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Waste Management Inc. The grant enabled us to construct a Community Garden located at the Clinton Community Christian Corporation. This garden will provide fresh vegetables for low to moderate income residents. It will also aid in the education of the value of fresh vegetables and good health. In a state with a significantly high obesity rate, this garden underscores the importance of healthy lifestyle and food choices. The garden will create an environment by which obesity and hunger are combatted through community partnerships and healthy lifestyles. Classes and cooking demonstrations will continue in coordination with the ongoing maintenance of the garden. The garden is a significant investment in the future of our communities’ ability to meet the needs of our residents while also providing a transformative experience for the children and families benefitting from the garden.

Keep Sevier Beautiful, TN

As part of our Good Earth Community Gardens, Keep Sevier Beautiful offered free public education gardening classes throughout the year. The classes covered topics from plants, bulb & seed selection; composting; winter gardening; pest and weed management and ended with a lesson on a live demonstration of farm to table.

To offer the Farm to Table Class, KSB partnered with the Walters State Community College. Chef Joe Cairns, shared valuable tips on how to prepare fresh vegetables from gardens. Throughout the presentation, Chef Joe made Rosemary Lemonade, Agua Fresca, Roasted Corn Salsa, Grilled Vegetable Salad and Watermelon Arugula Feta Cheese Salad for the crowd to sample and see how quickly a full meal can be prepared fresh from your garden!

All the classes throughout the year in addition to the community gardens were funded through a partnership with Lowe’s. Not only did they fund the gardens and the classes, but Lowe’s Heroes help build the garden beds!

Dow Volunteers Help Transform a Playground with Keep Houston Beautiful

In March, 195 young professionals from Dow’s Propel to Excel learning and talent development program transformed a small playground at Gabriela Mistral Early Childhood Education Center in Houston, Texas, into a nature-based outdoor learning center. Community service is a key component of Propel to Excel, which introduces new manufacturing and engineering employees to the Dow culture. The project at Gabriela Mistral Early Childhood Education Center was the perfect way to engage participants in a valuable community project.

Dow volunteers painted a mural, planted trees, and built benches, tables, planters, as well as a puppet theatre. Educators at the school are using the new space to give students a hands-on approach to learning about nature. The event was conducted in partnership with Keep Houston Beautiful, as part of the Great American Cleanup.

As a part of the company’s Contributing to Community Success initiatives, Dow has been a sponsor of the Great American Cleanup since 2008. Dow sites across the U.S. have been collaborating with local organizations and volunteers in cleanup, recycling, beautification, and education events to improve their communities and create a more sustainable future.

“Propel to Excel was thrilled to partner with Gabriel Mistral and Keep America Beautiful to help improve the children’s learning environment,” said Paul Mefford, Dow global operations learning and talent development leader. “This project is one example of how Dow is living out its citizenship commitment, by improving our communities and leaving a positive impact for years to come.”

During the 2014 Great American Cleanup, more than 1,000 Dow employees and their families and friends are expected to volunteer at upwards of 60 beautification events across the county.

Watch this short video to see how the Dow volunteers transformed the playground in a just a few hours.