While K-12 education in the United States is both compulsory and free, the U.S. continues to face myriad issues when it comes to providing all children with quality education. Underfunded public schools and income disparity are among the chief obstacles students face today, along with a startling rise in school violence. Academic success is heavily determined by family income, with children from affluent families entering school more prepared than their less affluent peers.
In fact, though the United States spends more money per student, per year than other developed nations, it ranks among the lowest for math and science test scores. Public school teachers often put in time outside of their contracted work hours and use their own money to purchase classroom supplies, perhaps contributing to rampant teacher burnout and a growing lack of quality educators. According to dosomething.org, 14% of new teachers resign after their first year, 33% after their first 3 and nearly 50% resign by their 5th year. Additionally, while there is a growing demand for college-educated workers, college tuition continues to rise unchecked, forcing students to either skip college or take on significant debt in order to attain higher education.
PaperSeed is working with Groundwork Bridgeport to provide a much-needed learning garden and accessible natural space for the community. This garden will also act as an attractive habitat for pollinators (bees and other insects, as well as hummingbirds, bats, and other small mammals). As an urban setting, there are few spaces within the city of Bridgeport to support these pollinators, which are vital to all life on earth.
While Connecticut is overall considered to be an affluent state, the community suffers from high unemployment and other societal ills that often plague urban areas, and Bridgeport is one of the top ten most dangerous cities in the country. People in urban settings often miss out on the myriad benefits natural settings can provide and, while there are two major parks in Bridgeport, CT, there is a dearth of small, neighborhood natural spaces. Groundwork Bridgeport provides local students with both classroom and hands-on learning about botany, horticulture, and arboriculture. These positive after school activities are vital to the area’s youth, and provides them with tangible life-skills while helping to beautify and revitalize the city.
livestock and Farm Improvement- Vida Verde Nature Education
Vida Verde Nature Education continues to provide an excellent outdoor education program for urban students in the San Francisco Bay Area, 100% free of cost. For many of the 750 4th-6th grade students who visit Vida Verde annually, it is their first time seeing the ocean, picking vegetables, and meeting farm animals. This experience provides a vital connection to nature, and provides a tangible idea of where and how food is grown. Moreover, their visit to California's stunning coastline gives them a viable stake in protecting the environment, and increases their likelihood to engage in positive environmental behaviors at home.
Vida Verde's animal pasture provides a unique point of connection for students who may never have encountered a farm animal before. During their 3-day stay at Vida Verde, students get the chance to milk goats, make fresh cheese, and complete the learning cycle by enjoying their homemade cheese with fresh vegetables from the farm with dinner. By providing vital, long-term infrastructure improvements for Vida Verde's livestock, we are contributing to the holistic education of local students for years to come.
Keep California Beautiful: K-12 Recycling Challenge 2017
To enhance environmental awareness and recycling, PaperSeed supports Keep California Beautiful in a friendly annual competition and bench marking tool for school recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to students, families, faculty and staff. Participating classrooms, schools and districts will track and report how much recyclable material they collect for a chance to win prizes.
We are very excited for the opportunity to continue this initiative with the support of our partners in 2017.