28×28 Green Schoolyard Initiative by Trust for Public Land Kicks off at Castellanos Elementary School

Today, Trust For Public Land (TPL), in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District, and Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, unveiled a new green schoolyard, TPL’s first of 28 projects converting asphalt playgrounds in Los Angeles County into vibrant, nature-filled green spaces.

Guillermo Rodriguez, Trust For Public Land’s California State Director and Vice President – Pacific Region shared, “With our partners at LAUSD and Camino Nuevo, Castellanos Elementary in the Pico-Union neighborhood is the first of many schools in LA County to be transformed into a green schoolyard. We know that access to green space is a human right, yet most people, particularly people of color, don’t have that access. What better way to close this gap than to start where students already are – their school campuses. We have raised over $36M in public and private funding to build 10 more green schoolyards toward our goal of 28 green schoolyards by 2028. We look forward to working collaboratively with students, parents, teachers, and our community-based partners to do this work.”

TPL’s “28×28” Initiative aims to green 28 schools in Los Angeles by the 2028 Olympics. More than 1.5 million people in Los Angeles, which includes over a third of the city’s children, people of color, and residents of low-income households, do not live within a 10-minute walk to a park. In a city where space is at a premium, transforming schoolyards into community green space helps close that gap so everyone has a great place to get outside close to home. Green schoolyards improve the physical and mental health of children, all while boosting their academic performance.

“Our students need and deserve sustainable learning environments to maximize their engagement and learning,” Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said. “Los Angeles Unified is committed to investing in infrastructure upgrades and greener schoolyards to minimize our carbon footprint and create healthy learning environments for our scholars, their families and the communities we serve.”

Envisioning what an innovative green schoolyard can be, starts with student-led design. Working with Ms. Garcia’s 4th-grade class, TPL spent 10-weeks teaching students about the environmental and sustainability benefits that could be incorporated into their design, for example, installing California native plants and managing stormwater on-site through the use of bioswales. The school site, once covered with asphalt with little shade canopy, now has 26 new native trees, over 500 native shrubs as well as a new play structure and shaded outdoor classroom thanks to support from California Natural Resources Agency’s Urban Greening Grant Program.

Dr. Rocío Rivas said, “Seeing these vital campus greening projects realized plants a seed of hope that we can create welcoming, sustainable, healthy spaces across our district, so that our students and communities can reap the benefits these spaces provide. As chair of the Greening Schools and Climate Resilience Committee, I will continue to lead on this work, facilitating effective partnerships and making sure that groups such as the Trust for Public Land have a seat at the table.”

The CEO of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Adriana Abich, shared that she remembered growing up with “blacktop” for her play area. “It definitely wasn’t a place where I felt inspired, creative, or as if my learning was continuing outside of the four walls of my classroom. Most days, I remember trying to find shade for those very hot days or wishing for anything that might spark my imagination. Our project with Trust for Public Land will change this for our students at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy by giving them a brand new space to play, run, and bring learning to life outside of the classroom,” Abich said.

The new Castellanos Elementary schoolyard was supported by The Boeing Company, California Natural Resources Agency’s Urban Greening Grant Program, The California Wellness Foundation, The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, Flora L. Thornton Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Molina Family Foundation, Nike, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, The Rose Hills Foundation, S. Mark Taper Foundation, Trust for Public Land’s California Advisory Board, Union Bank, The VF Foundation, and Wells Fargo.

“We are proud to contribute to a space where sport, sustainability and kids’ imagination are nurtured.  Through our partnership with the Trust for Public Land in the Community Climate Resilience Program Nike is helping to support physical and environmental health. This investment, which sits at the intersection of social and environmental progress, is a testament to the power of community and collaboration,” shared Vanessa Garcia-Brito, Chief Social & Community Impact Officer, NIKE, Inc.

In addition to The Castellanos Living Schoolyard Project, TPL is working with Community Coalition, Active San Gabriel Valley, and Promesa Boyle Heights to complete the 28×28 initiative as a part of the Governor’s Extreme Heat Action Plan and continues to work on green schoolyard projects across the U.S.

About the Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.