Tag Archives: CommunityGrows

Stanford University Honors CommunityGrows!

IMG_1951On Tuesday, June 7, 2016 CommunityGrows staff Barbara Wenger, Melissa Tang and Cha’Shay Woldridge joined Advisory Board members Leah Cerri and Abby Miller at Stanford University to receive a $20,000.00 grant through the University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.
The university offers a class “Theories of Civil Society, Philanthropy, and the Nonprofit Sector” taught by Dr. Bruce Sievers. The class is in receipt of funding from The Once Upon a Time Foundation, a philanthropic foundation promoting the values and practices of philanthropy.
In common with similar programs operating in universities throughout the country, the class and the associated funding enable students to learn about philanthropy through hands-on grant-making, distributing funds to Bay Area nonprofit organizations in their chosen field.
Students in the class divided into four teams. One team composed of students Celinda Sandoval, Jamie Stark and Montana Morgan, here with Professor Sievers, IMG_1820 choose to focus on an environmental priority. They were particularly concerned with empowering low-income communities to build sustainable food systems. Their goal was to select a nonprofit which fosters a generation that has a deeper appreciation of food and its impact on the environment. The team invited a select group of nonprofits to apply.
CommunityGrows submitted a general operating proposal that supported our three interconnected youth programs. Together, the programs provide a continuum of environmental, garden, and nutrition education, job readiness, and leadership development opportunities for low-income and underserved youth ages 5-19.
It was wonderful to be part of this celebration with other nonprofits, including Youth Radio, Operation Access and Causa Justa::Just Cause and the National Center for Youth Law.
The CommunityGrows staff celebrated afterwards with lunch at the Left Bank Restaurant in Menlo Park before heading back to San Francisco! Great honor and celebration! Thank you!TwoPhotos-SFW

Environmental Literacy Reports: LEAP, ChangeScale and the Environmental Literacy Blueprint.

2011-Conference-Logo-600pixelsFrom 2013-2015, CommunityGrows participated with 17 Bay Area youth leadership and environmental stewardship organizations, all grantees with the S.D. Bechel Jr. Fund, under the consultation of LFA (Learning for Action) and the LEAPS (Leadership and Evaluation to Advance Programs Success) for Environmental Literacy Initiative. As a result of this work three cluster studies were generated to better understand how to most effectively: engage adolescents in supportive early employment experiences; foster meaningful engagements with the environment; and create safer and welcoming spaces for youth populations traditionally underrepresented in the environmental movement. Here is a document on what we learned.

LEAPS Cluster Studies Lessons Learned_06 30 15 by blwenger

CommunityGrows joined the Student Conservation Association, Youth Radio, Rising Sun Energy Center, to help produce the report on Workforce Development. We utilized workforce development models centered on cultivating youth leadership and voice in local environmental and social justice issues as platforms for preparing youth for future job opportunities, and fostering greater connection with the environment. For the development of our models we adapted to our local communities, engaged many different partners, and drew from diverse funding sources. Here is the Workforce Cluster Report.

LEAPS Workforce Development Cluster Study by blwenger


Two other reports were generated by our S.D. Bechtel Jr. Fund grantee cohort which are offered here:

  LEAPS Meaningful Engagement Cluster Study by blwenger

  LEAPS Safer Spaces Cluster Study by blwenger

In August 2015 CommunityGrows presented at the ChangeScale  Convening on Workforce Development with one of our grantee partners, Rising Sun Energy Center. CommunityGrows has also been a partner of ChangeScale and has promoted its objectives to build on the Green 2.0 conversation. This conversation started at the Environmental Education Congress where this report was generated. You can read the report The State of Diversity in Environmental OrganizationsState-of-DiversityPublication-SFWChangeScale also strives to dive deeper to provide practical tips and tools that organizations and individual can enact to create a culture of inclusion and equity. ChangeScale provides a venue for networking and collaboration among the field of Environmental Education providers in San Francisco and the Monterey Bay Areas. At a recent ChangeScale meeting in Mountain View, CommunityGrows staff and other participants were introduced to the California Department of Education’s new publication entitled A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy: Educating Every Student In, About, and For the Environment. BlueprintPublication-SFWThis report was produced by the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s statewide Environmental Literacy Task Force (ELTF). The Blueprint is a plan of action, unifying us with focus and purpose as well as concrete next steps. This is the definition of Environmental Literacy that is used in the report: An environmentally literate person has the capacity to act individually and with others to support ecologically sound, economically prosperous, and equitable communities for present and future generations. Through lived experiences and education programs that include classroom-based lessons, experiential education, and outdoor learning, students will become environmentally literate, developing the knowledge, skills, and understanding of environmental principles to analyze environmental issues and make informed decisions.  CommunityGrows is thrilled to be on the cutting edge of the Environmental Literacy movement and welcomes your involvement.

Harvest Celebration

IMG_5143CommunityGrows Advisory Board and Staff culminated many months of hard work and planning into a wonderful Harvest Festival at Stern Grove Trocadero Clubhouse on Thursday evening, November 5, 2015. Located in a redwood grove with trails, meadows, ponds, and eucalyptus trees all around, the Clubhouse was a beautiful setting. It gave a rustic feeling to the event, with strung lights and stone fireplace adding a magical touch.IMG_4284Delicious food was provided by La Méditerranée and Bi-Rite Catering, with wines and beers from local breweries and vineyards. Wonderful silent auction items included over-night stays, dinners and massages were beautifully highlighted and competitively sought after. Other great items were raffled off during the evening, including tickets to the CA Academy of Science, excursions, dinners and wines.IMG_4266The evening celebrated the programs of CommunityGrows, and featured three BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) alum, Tanea Lundsford, Asante Munson, and Cha’Shay Woldridge. Each spoke about their experiences with the BEETS and CommunityGrows and share what they are doing now.
IMG_5148Music was provided by Benje Graham, a well-known North Beach Flamenco guitarist. A photo room/booth with a beautiful garden backdrop and props was provided for selfie and group pictures. Judith Keenan offered her assistance as the photographer, who’s photos are displayed in this blog.
IMG_5089IMG_5094IMG_5091Thank you to our sponsors, Kaiser-Permanente, DPW-Public Works Department, and the Tides Center for all their support. IMG_5116Thank you to our amazing Advisory Board and staff for such a successful and memorable evening. For more photos from the evening, check out our Flickr Photostream here.

Staff Presents at ChangeScale

8.27.15-SFW_IMG_3117CommunityGrows staff Kelly ErnstFriedman, Melissa Tang and Cha’Shay Woldridge presented with Julia Hatton from Rising Sun Energy Center spoke at the ChangeScale August 2015 Convening: Creating a Culture of Equity and Inclusion. They reported on their work with other Bay Area organizations that made up a LEAPS (Leadership and Evaluation to Advance Program Success) cohort, funded for three years by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Fund. The cohort of seventeen environmental literacy grantees was brought together in 2012 by LEAPS, a group founded by Learning for Action. Participating organizations share commitment to supporting high-school aged youth to develop as leaders and environmental stewards in their communities.
These seventeen LEAPS organizations were engaged in ongoing technical assistance to develop their evaluation capacity since October 2012.
During the first phase of this initiative, organization representatives attended trainings focused on foundational evaluation and learning concepts: theories of change, logic models, evaluation plans, tool development, data analysis techniques, and communicating effectiveness. They also engaged in a range of leadership capacity building activities.
In the phase that followed and with continued support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr., Foundation, Learning for Action worked with clusters of organizations to develop shared measures around three cross-cutting areas of interest. The cluster study work arose out of an opportunity for the cohort to begin to document its collective story – which was further emerging after Phase I’s work – and the desire to advance organizations’ evaluation capacity through the hands-on, group learning experience this type of project would provide. Organizations worked together to define and form the clusters, collect data, and analyze the emerging stories.
8.27.15-SFW_IMG_3119Here is a little more about ChangeScale. ChangeScale is working to support and advance the cohesiveness, effectiveness, and prominence of the environmental education field. Funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. and Pisces Foundations, ChangeScale’s mission is to ensure that every generation is inspired with the environmental know-how to create healthy communities and a healthy planet. Formed in 2010 and comprised of Bay Area practitioners, academics, and funders, the group will create a strategic plan and road map to strengthen and build the field of environmental education, while helping to create a unified voice for the field.
Congratulations everyone for a job well done!
Here are some documents from our three years of work with the LEAPS Cohort:

LEAPS Cluster Studies Lessons Learned_06 30 15 by blwenger

LEAPS Workforce Development Cluster Study by blwenger

LEAPS Safer Spaces Cluster Study by blwenger

LEAPS Meaningful Engagement Cluster Study by blwenger

Vote for CommunityGrows Video!

7.8.15-BTW-NewLib_IMG_2205CommunityGrows entered their video in a Retale Community Garden Video Contest sponsored by Echo-Reducing Hunger, Improving Lives Worldwide. Please go on-line and vote for us here. We would receive $2500 towards our garden program! The contest picked ten gardens throughout the USA to choose from, and we think ours is pretty good!
You can vote a maximum of one time per day (refresh your browser if it says you voted already). Voting ends on September 4.
Thanks for your support!

Buchanan Mall Activation!

7.8.15-BuchananMall-Exploratorium_IMG_1763We are honored to be included as partners with neighborhood residents, Green Streets and the Exploratorium to reactivate Buchanan Mall. This narrow park is 6 blocks long on Buchanan Street in the Western Addition, between Grove and Eddy. Map of Buchanan MallRight now many housing development butt up against it, as well as the Rosa Parks Senior Center, the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center and the African American Arts and Culture Complex. It currently features playground equipment & is lined with benches, mostly not used and uninviting to residents. It has felt unsafe for over a decade, and thanks to a grant from the City, people are coming together to redesign the space as a greenway that everyone can enjoy. Here are some photos from our visit to the Exploratorium to look at the prototype of some of the ideas everyone came up with.7.8.15-BuchananMall-Exploratorium_IMG_17717.8.15-BuchananMall-Exploratorium_IMG_17917.8.15-BuchananMall-Exploratorium_IMG_1775More community meetings to plan and design are schedule. Stay tuned!

Come to our BBQ!

5.29.15-BBQ-Flyer-600pixelsOn Friday, May 29th from 4-6 PM we will be having a BBQ in Koshland Park to celebrate the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, great partnerships, great kids and great staff members. Please let us know by May 25th if you can attend, especially if you’re bringing groups of kids, so we can plan for food. You’re welcome to bring a dish to pass, salads, fruit, desserts. Please RSVP at info@communitygrows. Hope to see you there!
5.16.14-Nora-Goodbye-Party-KP_IMG_6487

Rosa Parks Talent Show Shines!

On Friday night, May 15, 2015 Rosa Parks Elementary School hosted a Talent Show for the CommunityGrows Garden Program. It was a smashing event featuring some amazing talent from students K-5th Grade, and was highlighted with the Con Brio Band headed by our own Ezekiel McCarter, Rosa Parks Assistant Garden Educator. Check out the video here:

There we singers, dancers, athletes, magicians, and piano players, as well as poets and rappers. It was a night to remember. Thanks to Serene Padilla, Rosa Parks Garden Educator, and Ezekiel McCarter, Assistant Garden Educator, as well as many teachers, staff, and CommunityGrows Advisory Board memebers, who made this wonderful event possible!5.15.15-RP-TalentShow_IMG_10265.15.15-RP-TalentShow_IMG_09825.15.15-RP-TalentShow_IMG_09945.15.15-RP-TalentShow_IMG_09775.15.15-RP-TalentShow_IMG_10715.15.15-RP-TalentShow_IMG_1098
For more photos see our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.

Celebrating our Partnership with Kaiser-Permanente

2.5.15-K-P_GranteeEvent_IMG_1642On Thursday, February 5th CommunityGrows was honored to join other 2015 Kaiser-Permanente-San Francisco Community Benefit Grantees for a social gathering with hospital leaders, physicians, and managers. The grantees in attendance represented three priority health needs identified in the latest Kaiser-Permanente Community Health Needs Assessment: to increase access to high quality health care and services, to insure safe and healthy environments, and to increase healthy eating and active living (HEAL).
2.5.15-K-P_GranteeEvent_IMG_1645One of the highlights of the afternoon was meeting the the members of the Kaiser-Permanente community and Gina Gregory-Burns, MD, Co-Chair of the Community Benefit Advisory Committee, Chief of Diversity at Kaiser-Permanente-San Francisco, and a physician in the Spanish Primary Care Unit. Dr. Gregory-Burns talked about the joy she had reading grantee proposals and learning of the good work we are doing. Standing next to Dr. Gregory-Burns is James Illig, her co-chair and Community Benefit Manager for Kaiser-Permanente San Francisco.

CommunityGrows received a grant to increase access to and consumption of healthy food. We are seeking to reduce health disparities in the Western Addition by providing youth with access to free Seed-to-Mouth classes that increase their exposure to healthy foods and cooking. Offered once a week for two hours, classes take place over 30 weeks during the school year and 6-8 weeks during the summer. Cooking classes emphasize recipes that incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables that come directly from CommunityGrows gardens. Recipes are also chosen together by staff and youth, and reflect the cultural diversity of the students. Lessons about good nutrition and how it relates to physical health are incorporated into each class through games, songs and other teaching tools. Because many youth are cooking for the first time, the curriculum also includes lessons about kitchen safety and basic cooking skills. Occasionally, guest chefs from local restaurants donate their time to teach youth additional skills. At the end of each class youth receive the recipe explored that day, and at the end of the year students receive a cookbook with all recipes cooked during the previous months. These tools encourage children to take the healthy meals cooked and eaten in class and replicate them at home, with their parents and siblings.

Thank you Kaiser-Permanente for this honor and opportunity to serve San Francisco youth!
2.5.15-K-P_GranteeEvent_IMG_1644