The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is working to redevelop schoolyards to serve students and community members as parks outside of school hours. Roundhouse Foundation was pleased to support one of these efforts early in 2021, the Chiloquin Schoolyard Project.
With the support of the Klamath Tribes, residents, and school district, the schoolyard at Chiloquin Elementary is being redeveloped into a green schoolyard and community gathering space. The community’s goal with this project is to promote community building, healing, and health by transforming the elementary schoolyard into a vibrant space representative of the people, place, and culture of Chiloquin.
“The groundbreaking celebration was a truly inspiring event and marked a very important milestone with the schoolyard project,” says David Gorton, Director of Institutional Giving at the Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful for your support and appreciate your contributions to making the new schoolyard possible.”
Building on learning from the Chiloquin Schoolyard Project, TPL is developing a program to increase close-to-home access to nature in three additional high need communities in rural Oregon. Roundhouse Foundation has stepped in to support this program in a significant way starting in 2021.
“We are pleased to be able to make a contribution to furthering the Greening Schoolyard Project for Rural and Frontier communities across Oregon,” says Executive Director of the Roundhouse Foundation, Erin Borla. “Programs like these are indicative of the spirit of rural communities – but the connections, opportunities, and financial support for projects like these are so often reserved for more metropolitan spaces. We are pleased to help make rural communities a priority.”
The near- term goal of this work is to redevelop three schoolyards to serve students and provide community parks outside of school hours. Long-term, this is an opportunity to develop a case study to drive changes to how capital funding is allocated in Oregon and increase investments in schools serving rural communities, while providing a template for partnerships and collaboration to maximize the community impact of these projects.
While the next locations have not yet been identified, TPL’s Research and Innovation Team has developed criteria for identifying communities of greatest need in Oregon’s Rural and Frontier areas. To identify potential project sites, TPL will apply a prioritization framework using metrics for health, education, and equity. Project prioritization will align with TPL’s National Community Schoolyards Program but be tailored to local needs and opportunities in rural Oregon. TPL will use these and other research tools to determine where investment would make the most significant impact on the lives of underserved populations, while setting the stage for more systemic change in the state. The Schoolyards project will give special consideration to school districts serving Native American communities.
The success of the Oregon Schoolyards Program depends on having strong local relationships and effective community organizers. In Chiloquin, TPL’s partners include Oregon Health and Outdoors, the Ford Family Foundation’s network of Field Coordinators, and Oregon Community Foundation’s program staff. With the new program, TPL will collaborate with partners and community leaders to engage their networks in further refining the selection criteria.
“I would like to thank the Roundhouse Foundation for your investment in the Oregon Green Schoolyards program. Your support is truly inspiring, and we look forward to working with you to revitalize and reimagine schoolyards in three rural Oregon communities. Longer-term, we believe this work can shift how schoolyards are viewed in Oregon and build a case for increasing state funding for improvements to school grounds in rural communities,” says Gorton.
All photos from the Chiloquin Schoolyard groundbreaking celebration are courtesy of Trust for Public Land and Spayne Martinez.