Urban Youth Implement Green Solutions to Environmental Challenges in Cities across the Country

Los Angeles, CA | October 22, 2015

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The Nature Conservancy, through its innovative Nature Works Everywhere gardens program, is piloting a program to empower students to implement solutions to local environmental challenges through urban school gardens.

In partnership with Lowe’s and the Environmental Charter Middle School-Inglewood (ECMS-I), The Nature Conservancy conducted a one-day garden build Wednesday on the school’s campus in Inglewood, Calif. The garden was built by ECMS-I students, teachers and Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers using drought-resistant plants native to southern California, allowing the school and its students to take action to address the drought in California.

This is one of nearly 50 grants that will be awarded to urban schools around the nation to help students tackle urban environmental challenges like drought, food deserts and water pollution in their communities. Lowe’s donated $1.25 million to The Nature Conservancy this year, bringing its total giving to more than $10 million over the past 10 years. This year, Lowe’s made a cornerstone commitment to advance the Conservancy’s school gardens program and other youth initiatives.

Thanks to this generous support, Nature Works Everywhere will be able to triple its impact this school year, bringing the benefits of nature to more urban schools and communities nationwide.

“Building a garden with drought-resistant plants native to Southern California gives these students, teachers and community volunteers the opportunity to implement a natural solution to an environmental challenge – in this case drought – that affects them and their community right in their own neighborhood,” said Brigitte Griswold, director of youth programs for The Nature Conservancy.

The school and its students are not just doing something good for their environment. Ongoing access to the garden also will have significant positive impacts on the students. Studies consistently show that access to nature and green space can help students be more successful in and outside of the classroom, improving concentration, problem-solving skills, self-esteem and even test scores.

“Lowe’s believes the involvement of youth in these environmental projects gives students the opportunity to experience the outdoors in new ways and become advocates for nature,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “The Nature Works Everywhere garden projects not only help address environmental challenges in urban communities, they also provide immediate health and well-being benefits to students in urban schools nationwide.”

Environmental Charter Schools are located in South Los Angeles, and more than 80% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Most will be the first in their family to go to college.

“Just steps away from some of the most congested freeways in Los Angeles, our school is creating an inspiring and interactive living campus that brings learning to life while also serving as a model of sustainable living and ecological design for the entire community,” said ECMS-Inglewood Principal Beth Bernstein-Yamashiro. “The Nature Conservancy is helping our school create a living campus that serves as a safe, healthy and vibrant oasis for our students to learn in, while strengthening their local community. Our hope is to inspire other schools across the country to implement green solutions to the social and environmental challenges facing the world today.”

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About Lowe’s in the Community
Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 50-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. Since 2007, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed more than $225 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. To learn more, visit Lowes.com/SocialResponsibility and LowesInTheCommunity.tumblr.com.

About Environmental Charter Middle School-Inglewood
ECMS – Inglewood (ECMS-I) is a free, public middle school in South Los Angeles that offers students a small, caring educational environment while placing an emphasis on social responsibility. Supporting their transition from elementary school, the rigorous academic program prepares students for a college-prep high school. ECMS-I is one of three campuses of Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), including Environmental Charter Middle School – Gardena (ECMS-G) and Environmental Charter High School (ECHS) in Lawndale. A network of free public schools in underserved communities of South Los Angeles, the mission of Environmental Charter Schools is to create and deliver vibrant, innovative, interdisciplinary learning opportunities using the environment to engage students and connect them to the wider world. For more information, visit www.ecsonline.org.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.