Atlanta Community Schoolyards Program Pilot Schools Announced

The Trust for Public Land, Atlanta Public Schools, Urban Land Institute Atlanta and Park Pride Bring Access to School Playgrounds During Non-school Hours

ATLANTA – The Trust for Public Land, Urban Land Institute Atlanta, Park Pride and Atlanta Public Schools are excited to announce the Atlanta Community Schoolyards program pilot sites: John Wesley Dobbs Elementary and L.O. Kimberly Elementary.

Reimagining community schoolyards is one proven strategy designed to help cities reach the goal of having every resident live within a 10-Minute Walk of a park.  Nationally, The Trust for Public Land has worked in dozens of cities to transform hundreds of schoolyards and make them available to the general public during non-school hours.

While access to parks in Atlanta continues to improve, 29 percent of residents do not live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The Atlanta Community Schoolyards program aims to improve that number by reimagining schoolyards for public use during non-school hours. Public school districts are among the largest landowners in almost every city and town across the United States. There are approximately 100,000 public schools in the U.S., but only around 10 percent of schools currently provide the general public with formal access to schoolyard sites.

Park Pride and The Trust for Public Land are managing the planning and community engagement in transforming the schoolyards into epicenters for community, a community grant of $40,000 from The Trust for Public Land’s 10 Minute Walk Campaign earlier this year helping to support these efforts. ULI Atlanta is studying the sidewalks, crosswalks and roads around the pilot schools to recommend ways to improve access so that the 10-minute walk is a safe one. Equitable access to walkable and connected communities within a half-mile radius of the schools is paramount to this vision.

The Atlanta Community Schoolyards program has support from partners in the corporate and philanthropic communities as well. Delta Air Lines has committed to contributing $500,000 over three years and will be actively engaged in planning and implementation.  The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has generously contributed a $1 million grant over three years to support The Trust for Public Land’s Community Schoolyards program in Atlanta. This work would not have been possible without the support and partnership of the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation.

“The Trust for Public Land’s experience transforming schoolyards into parks for communities across the country, combined with local knowledge of our partner organizations, will ensure Atlanta’s program will create safe and inviting schoolyards for all,” said George Dusenbury, Georgia state director for The Trust for Public Land. “We are thrilled to help hundreds of families within a 10-Minute Walk of these schools benefit from greater access to safe outdoor recreation areas.”

“We are thrilled to be included in this partnership,” said Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen. “Our schools are a major part of the neighborhoods in Atlanta, and so it is fitting that the school yards and playgrounds at Dobbs Elementary School and L.O. Kimberly Elementary School, along with eight other schools that will participate in the pilot program, will be made accessible to community members after school hours.”

“At Delta Air Lines, giving back to the communities where we live, work and serve is part of our culture, and we also believe play is an essential part of learning.  That’s why we are proud to support The Trust for Public Land’s Community Schoolyards program while also supporting a school that is near and dear to our hearts through our partnership with Atlanta Public Schools’ Dobbs Elementary School,” said Tad Hutcheson, Managing Director of Community Engagement at Delta.  “Connections made while playing, whether that is at school or in a neighborhood park after school, create opportunities for kids of all ages to learn necessary social skills that are difficult to attain in other settings.”

“I’ve always believed that having access to greenspace and parks brings a level of connection to the outdoors, other people, ourselves, and our community that is so vitally important to our overall well-being,” stated Arthur M. Blank, Chairman, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “We are happy to support the Trust for Public Land in their efforts to enhance an underutilized asset to increase those opportunities for more individuals around Atlanta.”

“Great parks and park-like spaces meet the needs of the communities of which they’re a part,” explained Andrew White, registered landscape architect and Park Pride’s Director of Park Visioning. “We can’t wait to work with the kids, the school leadership, and members of the neighborhood to hear their ideas for schoolyard improvements that will bring people together and be enjoyed by everyone.”

“ULI members are lending their expertise to make sure that more people have access to good mobility options, including sidewalks and safe street crossings. Not only should the walk be accessible and safe but having a park or other place to walk to is key,” explained Janet Bozeman, a local ULI member and real estate attorney. “Walkability adds value to the community in so many ways, including providing safe access for students walking to school, persons walking to transit stops, providing options for recreation and social engagement, and promoting pride of place.  We look forward to watching these communities’ park access transform under this project.”

GIS data was used to identify schools in the city’s most park-poor communities. APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen invited those schools to participate, and two were chosen as pilot sites for the Atlanta Community Schoolyards program.  Over the next six months, schoolchildren and residents from the surrounding communities will design and implement improvements to create inviting, accessible and safe spaces for school-day play and after-hours recreation.  Construction will take place next summer.  All told, ten schools will participate in the pilot program over its three-year lifespan.

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About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

About Urban Land Institute Atlanta

ULI Atlanta is a District Council of the Urban Land Institute. With more than 1,400 members across Georgia, Alabama and eastern Tennessee, ULI Atlanta is one of the largest and most active ULI District Councils worldwide. The mission of the Urban Land Institute is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities.

About Park Pride

In 2019, Park Pride celebrates 30 years of engaging communities to activate the power of parks! Working with over 150 local Friends of the Park groups, Park Pride provides leadership, services, and funding to help communities realize their dreams for neighborhood parks that support healthy people, strong neighborhoods, vibrant business districts, a robust economy and a healthy environment. Park Pride is active in greenspace advocacy and educating both civic leaders and the public about the benefits of parks, and annually hosts the Parks and Greenspace Conference. Learn more about Park Pride at parkpride.org.

About Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 52,000 students across 87 schools. The District is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 58 traditional schools, 18 charter schools, six partner schools, two citywide single-gender academies and three alternative programs. To learn more about Atlanta Public Schools, follow us on social media – Twitter (@apsupdate), Facebook (Atlanta Public Schools), and Instagram (apsupdate) – or visit us online at www.atlantapublicschools.us.