AUSTIN (KXAN) – The City of Austin wants to give your child’s teacher money. It’s all part of the Bright Green Future School Grant program that’s encouraging kids to learn more about sustainability. Multiple projects are chosen each year and can receive up to $3,000. The grant isn’t just given to Austin Independent School District schools, but to public, private and charter schools throughout the area.
“It’s six simple questions,” said the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability’s Conservation Program Coordinator Mary Priddy. “You don’t have to be a professional grant writer in order to qualify.”
How has the Bright Green Future School Grant helped schools?
In 2011, Mary had a good problem. “We thought, well, we have this money. What’s the best way we can utilize it in schools? And surprisingly, all the teachers said, give it to us.”
Since then, the grant has funded 411 projects ranging from rainwater harvesting to bike trails. Schools are allowed to apply for the grant several times. Cunningham Elementary was one of the first recipients of the grant. They used it to build a small garden that has expanded greatly over the past few years.
The benefits of getting children outdoors
Austin ISD’s Outdoor Learning Specialist Anne Muller says students spend 90% of their time indoors. “We know that children who learn and play outside are healthier, happier and smarter,” Muller said.
“If a Bright Green Futures Grant has funded an outdoor classroom or a garden space, kids can take their learning and do it in a space that provides fresh air and sunshine.”
Lower income schools aren’t left out of the program
Not all schools are regularly able to provide opportunities for children to play outdoors, but the grant has been able to help. “We want to try to benefit those schools that may or may not have such a robust or involved PTA,” Mary said.
Who gets the grant is decided through a point system. Title One, or low income schools, get two additional points off the bat. “We want to try to give them those opportunities, so they actually stand a bit of a better chance,” Mary said.
One hundred eight of the 411 projects funded by the grant have been given to Title One schools.
Applications are due by midnight on Oct. 1. You can learn more about the Bright Green Future School Grant on the City of Austin’s website. Since 2011, the grant program his impacted more than a 100,000 students in Central Texas, according to the City of Austin.