Greening Chicago Schoolyards


In cities across the country, schoolyards have been transformed into dynamic centers for health and fitness, teaching and learning and environmental literacy and community life. Public-private partnerships have been developed to support schools and communities as they build and maintain these schoolyards and identify innovative funding sources.

Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards, a partnership led by Openlands and Healthy Schools Campaign, is an innovative program to transform Chicago schoolyards into spaces that provide students, their families and the broader community with opportunities for active play and outdoor learning, space for physical education classes, gardening and environmental literacy, and engagement with art. Research shows that schoolyards provide children with opportunities to improve their physical health and social emotional learning. 

These green schoolyards will have the added benefit of reconnecting communities with their local public schools, providing much needed green space in otherwise heavily urbanized neighborhoods, and contributing to a significant reduction in stormwater runoff across the city.

Beginning with four pilot schools that will break ground in summer 2014, Space to Grow’s ambitious longer-term plan is to build green schoolyards in elementary schools across the city.

Space to Grow engages county and city government agencies and Chicago Public Schools. Other partners will include school garden organizations, landscape architects, researchers and arts organizations.

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