A huge THANK YOU to the State Farm® Youth Advisory Board for awarding ECS a $100,000 grant to fund a Youth Ecology Center on our new Middle School (ECMS-G) campus opening in Gardena in 2013.
Having received more than $68 million in requests, the State Farm® Youth Advisory Board selected our Youth Ecology Center as one of the best and most innovative projects that demonstrated a deep connection to classroom curriculum through clear articulation of innovative, school-based service learning.
“This project reflects a vision of service learning that embraces community collaboration to foster healthy youth development,” Suffet added. “ECS will work with partner organizations to achieve this vision and aims to enrich the community by providing free, public educational sustainability programs.“
The project is a cross-age, student-led effort in which teams of Environmental Charter Middle School students, mentored by Environmental Charter High School (ECHS) students, will work with construction and landscape professionals to develop environmental learning spaces, community workshops and digital tools. “The Youth Ecology Center will empower students with the knowledge, skills and practical experience to lead their peers and local community to adopt environmentally sustainable practices,” reports ECS Founder and Executive Director Alison Suffet Diaz. “The result is increased opportunities for youth enrichment and leadership and an improved quality of life for families in the community.”
More than 700 young people will participate in this project annually, with 390 of our middle and high school students directly involved. Thirty select ECHS 11th and 12th graders will receive intensive leadership and project management training to serve as peer mentors to 360 ECMS-G 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Many more local youngsters will benefit through the public workshops and activities. ECS will seek out additional opportunities to partner with other local schools and youth-serving organizations to expand the project’s reach and impact.
The high school and middle school students will work together on teams – with assistance from volunteer professionals – to design and build environmental learning spaces and to create community workshops. When the learning spaces are completed, students will work with film professionals to create a video tour of the school campus and Youth Ecology Center project to introduce ECMS-G to a broader audience and encourage more visitors.
Stay tuned for more details about the formal presentation of the State Farm® Youth Advisory Board Grant to take place as part of festivities celebrating the ECMS-G Grand Opening in March 2013.