Community schoolyards, also known as green schoolyards, are open to the community after school hours and are designed by students, teachers and neighbors as nature-rich hubs for outdoor play, community health and climate resilience. They can include outdoor classrooms, gardens, stormwater capture, traditional playground equipment, nature play areas, trails, trees, water features, and more.
More than 20 years ago, Trust for Public Land (TPL) began working with cities and school districts to reimagine what schoolyards could be. TPL starts with a participatory design process that involves students in the creation of a green schoolyard. This allows students to learn about environmental challenges and contribute to the solution. Through curriculum based on state education standards, students practice real life skills and civic engagement while becoming invested in the long-term success of the schoolyard.
TPL has built more than 250 schools in a dozen communities across the country. In 2019, TPL launched an Atlanta Public Schools (APS) pilot project in partnership with Park Pride and the Urban Land Institute Atlanta office. At the end of 2022, TPL and partners at APS will have opened their 10th community schoolyard.
Community Schoolyards provide the benefits of the outdoors not just to students, but to the community as a whole. Seeing access to nature as a fundamental human need, TPL works to ensure that all community members live within a 10-Minute Walk of a park. One in three Americans – nearly 100 million people – lack access to a park within a 10-Minute walk of home.
By redesigning schoolyards and making them open to the community after hours and on weekends, TPL is striving to put a great park within a 10-Minute Walk of 19 million Americans. TPL has mapped out park access in all urban areas across America, using data based on income, number of children and diverse households to prioritize where they work.
TPL believes that time spent learning and playing in nature benefits the whole child and can help children reach their full potential. Access to safe, natural areas can enhance children’s physical and mental health, from improving cardiovascular vitality and weight management to reducing stress and ADHD symptoms. In addition, regular access to high quality green space inspires strong connections to the natural world.
TPL proposes a Scope of Work comprised of two phases: Phase I –Development of Approach and Phase 2 – Development of Consensus-Based Master Plan (Attachment A) at a combined cost between $50,000 and $70,000. If funding is made available through the FY 2024 budget process, the Administration would work with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to refine this scope. TPL estimates that it will take between 10 and 15 months to complete Phase I and Phase II.
Phase III (construction) costs for similar projects developed by TPL are approximately $325,000 which excludes any stormwater considerations. Stormwater components could increase Phase III costs to as much $2M.
Once the master plan is developed, and if approved by the Commission, Phase III of the project would be subject to availability of funding in the FY 2025 or FY 2026 budget process, and implemented by the City's Capital Improvements Office
TPL is committed to raising private funds to support student engagement and participatory design for Phase I and Phase II. They also will work with local partners to explore other opportunities for private investment in capital improvements.