Fast-growing initiative aims to impact racially and economically diverse K-12 schools; Partnership expected to reach 25,000 students by 2018
ANN ARBOR, MICH. – General Motors and the National Wildlife Federation have now reached 11,800 children across the country in science, technology, engineering and math projects since launching their Eco-Green partnership in 2015. The program has tripled its reach over the last year.
The Eco-Green partnership pairs one of the largest automakers in the world with the nation’s largest conservation organization to provide children with authentic learning experiences. The goal is to help communities reduce their environmental footprint and foster global change while exposing students to STEM careers through GM employees, suppliers and dealers who serve as mentors.
“The National Wildlife Federation is partnering with General Motors to connect a network of K-12 Eco-Schools with GM employees and beyond,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Together we are putting in place exciting new local sustainability projects across the United States and helping to foster the next generation of environmental stewards.”
To continue the progress, both organizations are working with the Ann Arbor STEAM at Northside Elementary in Michigan to create an outdoor classroom that can be replicated at schools in other communities across the nation.
“The Eco-Green collaboration helps GM serve communities beyond the cities where we have manufacturing operations,” said Mari Kay Scott, executive director of Global Environmental Compliance and Sustainability at GM. “The support and volunteerism of many of our employees, dealers and suppliers will help us in our goal to reach 25,000 students in 50 schools by 2018.”
The program aims to reach racially and economically diverse communities to afford children of all backgrounds with environmental opportunities. Nearly half of the schools are designated Title 1 schools—schools that have high percentages of children from low-income families.
“This program opens so many doors for children,” said Jennifer Dowd, the National Wildlife Federation’s manager of K-12 education programs. “We look forward to helping provide experiences for children and communities that connect them to a vibrant outdoor world.”
In the first two years of the program, student-led projects have helped to reduce waste and consumption; promote recycling; save energy; and create outdoor habitat for wildlife.
“When we have learning opportunities outside, student engagement and curiosity seems to peak,” said Jeanie Wilson, a 6th grade teacher at Ann Arbor STEAM at Northside School. “Students are excited about what they are doing, and they seem connected to their work. This outdoor classroom is an incredible launching point for moving our project work outdoors. We are so grateful for the people that have made this possible!”
Ann Arbor STEAM at Northside partnered with GM and Forward Design, an Ann Arbor construction company, to help get children outdoors for learning that positively impacts the natural environment. They were instrumental in the creation of the outdoor classroom at the school.
“We are thrilled to be able to support Ann Arbor STEAM in advancing STEM and environmental education for the students,” said Shelly Hoffmann, Ann Arbor STEAM parent and GM sponsor for the school’s Eco-Green program. “It was fun to have many of the students help us build the classroom and great to see first-hand how excited the children are to have outdoor learning opportunities.”
More about Eco-Schools: Since 2008, NWF has been the official U.S. host for Eco-Schools, an international green schools program created by the Foundation for Environmental Education. Through Eco-Schools NWF organizes school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers. NWF's Eco-Schools USA combines effective "green" management of the school grounds, the facilities and the curriculum; truly providing students with a unique, research and application based learning experience. More information can be found at http://www.nwf.org/eco-schoolsusa
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