Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute earns $20K Parks Build Community grant

Project coordinator Justin Hellier with Rainier Vista youth last year.

 

In April, we asked you to vote on which Seattle Parks and Recreation project should receive a $20,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association, and the results are in. Seattle voters selected the Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute as their top project.

“Seattle is a community that is committed to the environment, committed to equity and committed to developing young leaders,” project coordinator Justin Hellier said. “The Rainier Vista Youth Environmental Leadership Institute is an opportunity to bring all three of those commitments to life this summer.”

The Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute will connect diverse, low-income youth to nature by engaging them in a six-week summer employment program focused on urban farming, urban forest restoration and community leadership development. The youth will work with a variety of community partners including the Seattle Housing Authority, Solid Ground and Earth Corps. The program will make tangible physical improvements to several local parks and will build the capacity of participating youth to connect to nature and serve as environmental leaders. The program will culminate in a community volunteer event led by the youth.

“Young people in Rainier Vista are the most diverse youth in our city, and in my experience they are creative, passionate, and looking for a chance to make a difference in their community,” Hellier said. “This project will give them an opportunity to spend time in Cheasty Greenspace restoring our urban forest, at the Seattle Community Farm growing food destined for the Rainier Valley Food Bank and developing their skills as community leaders. It doesn’t hurt that they’ll earn a pay check and build their resume, too!”

The grant was awarded through an initiative called Parks Build Community.  During Earth Month, the National Recreation and Park Association and Disney | ABC Television Group and ESPN collaborated to invigorate park and recreation programs and facilities across the U.S.  through Parks Build Community — an initiative that gives back to the places that shape so much of our lives. One of three Seattle Parks projects was eligible to receive a $20,000 grant – and Seattleites got to choose which one.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to continue this program into the future,” Hellier said. “We’ve already written a second grant proposal to support it next year. I have a dream of a generation of Rainier Vista young people, year after year, becoming environmental leaders through hands-on stewardship of their neighborhood forest and farm.”

To see all of the Parks Build Community grant recipients, visit http://www.parksbuildcommunity.org/.

You choose: Which Seattle Parks’ projects should receive a $20,000 grant?

A detailed look at the nominees

Last week we announced that three Seattle Parks and Recreation projects are nominated for a $20,000 grant through an initiative called Parks Build Community, and we’re asking the public to vote for the recipient.

This Earth Month, the National Recreation and Park Association, Disney | ABC Television Group and ESPN are working together to help fund park and recreation programs and facilities across the country through the Parks Build Community grant. Now through April 30, you can vote for which Seattle project you’d like to see made possible through this effort.

Here’s an in-depth look at each of the nominated projects to help you choose:

PROJECT 1: Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute

The Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute will connect diverse, low-income youth to nature by engaging them in a six-week summer employment program focused on urban farming, urban forest restoration and community leadership development. The youth will work with a variety of community partners including the Seattle Housing Authority, Solid Ground and Earth Corps. The program will make tangible physical improvements to several local parks and will build the capacity of participating youth to connect to nature and serve as environmental leaders. The program will culminate in a community volunteer event led by the youth.

The youth will spend:

  • Two weeks improving the Seattle Community Farm’s ability to grow fresh produce for neighbors in need.
  • Two weeks improving Cheasty Greenspace through restoration and trail-building.
  • Two weeks coordinating a major community volunteer event.

At the end of the program, the youth will receive $600 stipends.

The Rainier Vista community is one of Seattle’s most diverse and low-income neighborhoods. Many of the youth come from immigrant and refugee families from all over the world, mostly representing Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Vietnam, Cambodia and China.

PROJECT 2: Central Seattle Good Food Garden Expansion and Beautification

The Central Seattle Good Food Garden Expansion will focus on the Garfield and Homer Harris Park Good Food Gardens. The two gardens are located in Central Seattle. The multi-cultural neighborhood’s demographic is about 30 percent African American, 10 percent Asian and Pacific Islander and 7 percent Latino. About 18 percent of people living in the community have a household income below the poverty level. The two gardens were established to address a critical need for access to public land for food production in low-income communities of color.

This project would upgrade the existing garden beds and plant structures with improved materials to better meet ADA standards and would add new sustainable landscaping features, a covered seating area and on-site tool storage. Staff would install educational/interpretive signage to provide a self-serve educational resource. The signs would allow passersby to access information on their smart phones about the landscape features, plants and nutritional information.

PROJECT 3: Meadowbrook Teen Life Center upgrades

The Meadowbrook Teen Life Center is the smallest of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s three teen life centers. It is visited by about 100 teens daily for activities, sports and social recreation. The facility often reaches capacity at peak hours and often times there is not enough space to offer a variety of sports and activities. Currently, the facility can only utilize its gym and classroom for programming. The large concrete lobby is unsafe for activities.

This project would enhance programming at the center by reconfiguring the lobby into a multi-use space. Funds would be used to:

  • Purchase and install an operable sliding room divider system.
  • Purchase rubberized flooring to create a workout room for martial arts, boxing and gymnastics.
  • Purchase portable wood flooring and create a mirror wall to allow for aerobics, dancing, cheer classes, yoga and bar workouts.
  • Remove the front desk and redesign the office space.
  • Repaint the facility.
  • Repair and replace faulty kitchen equipment.

Decide which project means the most to you and your community and then visit NRPA.org/beinspired to cast your vote!

Vote for your favorite Seattle Parks’ project this Earth Month

One of 3 parks projects has the chance to receive $20,000!

Through an initiative called “Parks Build Community,” one of three local parks and recreation projects will receive a $20,000 grant – and Seattleites get to choose which one.

This Earth Month, the National Recreation and Park Association, Disney | ABC Television Group and ESPN are collaborating to invigorate park and recreation programs and facilities across the U.S. including projects right here in Seattle through Parks Build Community — an initiative that gives back to the places that shape so much of our lives.

Seattle Parks and Recreation aims to make Seattle a better place to live by providing places and programs that encourage people to be active and healthy. That’s why from April 1 to April 30 we’re asking residents to vote on which project they’d like to see receive $20,000 in grant funding.

The project choices are:

  • Central Seattle Food Garden Expansion: This project would expand and beautify the Central Seattle Food Garden by upgrading the garden infrastructure and adding new multimedia educational signage in Seattle’s Central Area neighborhood.
  • Meadowbrook Teen Life Center Upgrade: Meadowbrook Teen Life Center, located in northeast Seattle, hosts about 100 teens daily for recreation activities. This project would upgrade the facility with flooring for exercise classes, newer kitchen equipment and a fresh coat of paint.
  • Rainier Vista Youth Environmental Leadership Institute Program: This project would support a six-week summer job program to teach young people on-the-job skills while working on projects involving urban farming, urban forest restoration and community leadership development in the Rainier Vista neighborhood.

By visiting NRPA.org/BeInspired, you can vote daily for your favorite project. At the end of April, the park project with the most votes will receive grant funding.

“Parks have immense power. They help families live healthier lives, connect kids to nature, increase kids’ access to sports and so much more,” said Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO of NRPA. “Parks Build Community is a great opportunity to share the power of parks during Earth Month while bringing essential funds to critical local park projects.”

This Earth Month, show how parks build your community and vote to improve local parks.

For more information and to vote, visit NRPA.org/BeInspired.

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The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 47,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.NRPA.org.  For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.