New Community Schoolyard Opens at Add B. Anderson School

PHILADELPHIA – Today, Trust for Public Land (TPL) and partners celebrate the opening of a new Community Schoolyard at Add B. Anderson School in West Philadelphia. The revitalized schoolyard will provide roughly 10,000 residents park access within a 10-minute walk of homes and the renovation will also yields other environmental and climate benefits, with dozens of new trees producing shade and stormwater management features soaking over a half a million gallons of runoff annually.

“The educational, health, and community benefits of this schoolyard should be enjoyed by everyone, in every neighborhood,” said Owen Franklin, Pennsylvania State Director for Trust for Public Land. “Too many communities, particularly communities of color, lack access to high quality outdoor space. We are excited to work with so many committed partners to address this inequality.”

Through the student-led process, important features were identified and incorporated into the design, including trees and gardens to create shade and reduce heat impacts, as well as up-to-date play equipment, a multi-use turf field, running track, and basketball court. These tree plantings and use of stormwater management designs will help reduce approximately 600,000 gallons of stormwater runoff from entering nearby Cobbs Creek and the Schuylkill River.

“Accessible outdoor space brings so many benefits to communities, from mental and physical health to reducing impacts from climate change, and every Philadelphia neighborhood deserves these benefits,” said Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia. “We’re thrilled and grateful to partners including Trust for Public Land, the Philadelphia School District and Water Department for working together to bring this wonderful community space to the Anderson school community and Cobbs Creek.”

Trust for Public Land has partnered with the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Water Department, L.L.Bean, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia 76ers, and others to close the equity gap for students at Anderson Elementary, as well as the wider community. WSFS Bank and Hersha Hospitality Trust also teamed up to give $50,000 to TPL for completion of the Anderson schoolyard.

“Giving students the tools and resources they need to succeed goes beyond just what’s in the classroom and this new schoolyard allows Anderson to be a space for outdoor learning, play, and exercise,” said Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D., superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia. “We’re thrilled to see more students and the entire Cobbs Creek community enjoy this beautiful new natural area for years to come.”

“At the Sixers Youth Foundation, we’re committed to serving Philadelphia’s youth and using the power of sports to bring communities together,” said Marjorie Harris, Chair of the Sixers Youth Foundation. “We are very excited about our partnership with Trust for Public Land, the City of Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia, which enables us to bring the children and families of Anderson elementary school a safe place to learn, play and build lifelong friendships.”

The Philadelphia Water Department provided approximately $200,000 for the green stormwater infrastructure component of the Anderson schoolyard project through its Stormwater Grant program, which helps fund the design and construction of stormwater retrofit projects on non-residential properties in Philadelphia.

Ninety-five percent of Cobbs Creek neighborhood residents are Black, and communities of color and of low-incomes are more likely to experience a lack of access to green space. The neighborhood has also seen an increase in gun violence which has caused tremendous challenges around safety for kids and families, and this schoolyard space will offer a safe space for residents to gather.

Trust for Public Land has a robust portfolio of schoolyard projects in Philadelphia, with nine schoolyards completed and, including Anderson, six in development. Nationwide, Trust for Public Land has transformed more than 300 schoolyards into nature-rich parks designed to address inequities in education, health, and climate impacts. According to research from Trust for Public Land, open access to all public schoolyards across the country during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of more than 19.6 million people, including 5.2 million children, who currently lack access.