Trust for Public Land Awarded Nearly $10 Million in Funding for Norwood Elementary Greening Project in El Monte from the County of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California – Trust for Public Land (TPL) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded $9.8 million in funding from the Los Angeles County Safe Clean Water Program for the Norwood Elementary Greening Project in El Monte, California. This transformative project, led in partnership by TPL, with the El Monte City School District (EMCSD), and Active San Gabriel Valley (ActiveSGV), aims to create a multiple-benefit 6-acre park that will provide recreational opportunities and access to green space for children and families in the community while demonstrating how you can manage stormwater in an environmentally friendly way that delivers added recreation benefits to the community.
“We are thrilled to receive this significant funding from the Los Angeles County Safe Clean Water Program for the Norwood Elementary Greening Project. This investment illustrates how you can deliver multiple benefits that allow us to transform an unused schoolyard into a vibrant park that will serve as a much-needed recreational space for the El Monte community all while mitigating 8.3 million gallons of stormwater annually,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, CA Director for Trust for Public Land. “Multiple benefit projects require strong partners, and we extend our sincere gratitude to, the El Monte City School District and Active San Gabriel Valley, for their invaluable collaboration on the Norwood Elementary Greening Project. Their commitment to improving the lives of children and families in El Monte has brought this vision to life.”
The expansive 6-acre site includes two softball fields, multiple basketball courts, picnic tables, shade structures, a cafeteria, and several classrooms. With the proposed improvements, TPL, EMCSD, and ActiveSGV envision a revitalized space that will cater to the needs of the community.
The key improvements planned for the Norwood Elementary Greening Project include preserving the softball fields and primary buildings for community service purposes, removing a temporary building and a parking lot, and reducing the amount of paved surface. Additionally, the project will introduce walkways, a playground, an edible garden, trees, and native plant landscaping, as well as implement a water capture system to cleanse and infiltrate water from the surrounding streets, replenishing underground aquifers.
In addition to the environmental and social elements of the Greening Project, EMCSD has major plans to revitalize the Norwood campus to be an early childhood development center, focusing on supporting families with children ages 0-5.
“El Monte City School District has always put community at the forefront of all of our efforts,” said Dr. Maribel Garcia, EMCSD Superintendent. “Our families deserve safe spaces where their children can play, explore, and socialize in their local community. We are proud to join Trust for Public Land and ActiveSGV in an effort to enact transformative changes to how school facilities can evolve with the community’s needs.”
EMCSD’s main goal is to expand access to early childhood education, working directly with families to ensure their children are given equitable access to the educational structure needed to succeed.
“Our district has been collecting data since 2013 to monitor early childhood outcomes and as a result, we are identifying programs and services that will best serve our future students,” explained Dr. Garcia.
Norwood Elementary is situated in close proximity to a large population, with nearly 6,900 residents living within a 10-minute walk of the site, 25% of whom are children under 20 years old. Remarkably, there are no other public green spaces within a half-mile radius, underscoring the urgent need for accessible recreational facilities.
“ActiveSGV is proud to contribute to a transformative project that will improve the lives of children and families in El Monte,” said ActiveSGV Executive Director David Diaz. “The Norwood Elementary Greening Project embodies our vision for the San Gabriel Valley, where people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to thrive, and investments address pressing challenges like climate change and environmental inequality. This collaboration with Trust for Public Land and the El Monte City School District showcases the power of strong partnerships. Furthermore, it demonstrates Active SGV’s commitment to building healthier and sustainable communities for all. We are excited to witness this park serve as a recreational space and a testament to the positive impact of investing in equitable and sustainable public spaces for generations to come.“
El Monte is classified among the top 10% most disadvantaged communities in California, facing challenges such as poor air quality, low-income levels, polluted water basins, limited access to healthy food, high rates of obesity, and a scarcity of recreational open space. Currently, the City of El Monte only has 0.4 park acres per 1,000 people, falling significantly short of the County’s goal of 3 acres per 1,000 people.
“By creating accessible green spaces in a much-needed region of LA County, we are not only improving the quality of life for residents but also addressing the ever-growing environmental and health challenges we face today. This project exemplifies TPL’s commitment to creating equitable and sustainable communities for all and we are proud to have played a part,” continued Rodriguez.
The Norwood Elementary Greening Project emerged from the collaborative efforts of the Link Initiative. The Link Advocates, Governments, Families, and Parks initiative (Link) aims to build healthier communities for children and families by engaging residents, advocates, and government partners in a community-driven planning process that secures local infrastructure funding. Through outreach conducted by ActiveSGV and TPL, multiple community priorities were identified, including the need for public access, greening, and recreational amenities at Norwood Elementary School. Simultaneously, the school district had been actively working with stakeholders to plan for the future of the Norwood campus.
“The Link Initiative has played a pivotal role in identifying community priorities and fostering meaningful engagement. This project demonstrates the transformative power of partnerships and the positive impact they can have on our communities. Norwood is just one school included in 28×28, a TPL lead initiative to leverage the funding and influence coming to Los Angeles for the 2028 Olympics, to bring new and critical green spaces to schools across the county,” said Robin Mark, Los Angeles Program Director at TPL.
The benefits of the Norwood Elementary Greening Project are manifold. From an environmental perspective, the park will serve as a buffer against the effects of climate change, cultivate the next generation of environmental stewards, and protect natural resources in an urban setting. In terms of health, the park will provide a space for recreation and exercise, support mental health and wellbeing, safeguard clean drinking water, and mitigate air pollution.
“I am proud to see the County of Los Angeles award the Trust for Public Land with critical funding to realize a transformative green space for our El Monte community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. “I have made it a priority to make parks and open spaces accessible for our families without access. This is about equity and ensuring that we’re safeguarding public health by investing in sustainable projects that improve our environment. The Norwood Elementary Greening Project is a clear example of a resource that will impact future generations to come.”
Thanks to the generous funding provided by the Los Angeles County Safe Clean Water Program, Trust for Public Land, in collaboration with the El Monte City School District and Active San Gabriel Valley, is poised to transform the Norwood Elementary site into a vibrant and inclusive community park. With support from the River & Mountains Conservancy, ActiveSGV led the community creation and concept design, including the engineering, necessary for today’s successful funding of the future Norwood Greening Project. This project will not only enhance the quality of life for residents but also serve as a shining example of sustainable and equitable park development for communities across California.
For more information about Trust for Public Land and this project along with TPL’s work in the City of El Monte, please visit here. To learn more about the Norwood Elementary Greening Project, please visit here.
About 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.
Since Southern California’s first school was constructed here in 1852, El Monte has honored the education of its children and has grown into a thriving community. We currently serve 7,000 students at 14 schools that have earned national recognition for our music education and arts programs from the California School Board Association and the National Association of Music Merchants. El Monte City School District serves students of over 20 different language backgrounds and our programs and services reflect this heritage. Our goal is educating the whole child by providing long lasting educational experiences designed to address their needs and set them up for success.
Active San Gabriel Valley (ActiveSGV) is a community-based organization committed to realizing a more sustainable, equitable San Gabriel Valley and the lead organizer of 626 Golden Streets. ActiveSGV offers a wide array of FREE year-round programming, including the SGV Bicycle Education Center (bike skills park, bike safety/repair classes) and physical activity programming (e.g., yoga classes, community rides). For more information and updates, please visit activesgv.org or sign up for ActiveSGV’s monthly newsletter at activesgv.org/newsletter.