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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: CommunityGrows is an environmental education program serving high-needs youth, especially those living in public housing in San Francisco.  Youth acquire the necessary skills to live a healthy life through garden education, nutritious cooking and eating, and green jobs training.

Results: Renovation of Rose-Page Mini Park-1999 Renovation of Koshland Park-2002 DPH-7 Principles Project-Infant Mortality Nutrition Grant-2003 Environmental Adventures-Urban kids Outdoors-2004-2005 Community Learning Garden-Koshland Park Upgrades-2007-2008 San Francisco PEACE WALL Installation-2007 John Muir Elementary School Green Schoolyard Project-1996-present BEET Rangers-Teen Stipended Envir Ed & Green Jobs Training-2007-present LetUsGrow Summer Camp-2006-present Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Classes at housing development and at Modern Tea Restaurant-2006-present Park Monthly Workdays-1994-present

Target demographics: low-income, high needs youth, especially those living in public housing in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhoods

Direct beneficiaries per year: 500 youth and 400 adults (from John Muir School, Hayes Valley North & South Redevelopment, YMCA Beacon Center, Park stewards and volunteers for five parks/gardens, families receiving produce, participants at events, workshops, celebrations).

Geographic areas served: Western Addition/Hayes Valley San Francisco

Programs: Koshland Park Community Learning Garden This garden is located in the lower part of Koshland Park, on the corner of Page and Buchanan Streets in San Francisco, CA. The garden is ground zero for most of our programs and serves hundreds of youth and neighbor each year. It is a 54- plot garden shared by the students of John Muir Elementary School and community gardeners. The primary goals of the Community Learning Garden are to help at-risk youth in the community to develop an understanding and passion for nature, to build core academic and interpersonal skills, and to create a sense of community and caring between neighborhood youth and adults. Environmental Education Classes • John Muir Elementary School-Western Addition Beacon Center and Hayes Valley Youth Center Our environmental education classes with John Muir Elementary School offer the Science Content Standards to all students. These classes help students improve their learning through hands-on experience and activities in the outdoor classroom at the Koshland Park Garden. Students also have an opportunity to continue their learning in our afterschool and summer programs. • Garden Workdays with groups, high schools and youth organizations Numerous groups, high schools and youth organizations work with CommunityGrows on a regular basis, bringing their youth to the Koshland Park garden for classes in gardening, composting and park maintenance. BEETS-Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens We are also hoping to continue our successful BEETS Program (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employed Teens), a green jobs training program for low-income, underserved teens in the Western Addition. This is a six-month stipend program that meets every other Saturday for six hours and every Wednesday after school (for 1.5 hours). Some of the activities include workshops on recycling (Norcal Transfer); nutrition (Next Course): composting (Garden for the Environment); bike maintenance (SF Bike Kitchen). There is also organic gardening, harvesting and cooking nutritional foods. There are field trips to Marin Headlands, Crissy Field, Alemany and Green Gulch Farms. SF Recreation and Park Department teaches participants how to use tools and assists them in maintain five local parks. LetUsGrow Summer Camp Begun in 2005, our environmental summer camp, LetUsGrow, offers youth and teen counselors, three weeks of garden fun. Camp started each day with breakfast donated by Kate’s Kitchen, which was followed by fieldtrips, gardening and arts activities and ending with a healthy lunch. Some of our adventures are trips to Green Gulch Farm in Marin County, Alemany Farm in San Francisco, the Arboretum, the Civic Center Farmers Market, painting watercolors of our garden, gardening, composting, and a graduation with our parents. Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Classes Begun in 2005 with weekly classes at Modern Tea Restaurant in Hayes Valley and at the Hayes Valley Housing Complex, CommunityGrows offers neighborhood youth and their families, opportunities to prepare delicious, healthy meals with produce harvested from the Koshland Park Garden. Western Addition Peace Wall at Koshland Park This project, started in 1998, brought together over 1,000 people, members of churches, schools, and community based organizations to learn a peace empowerment process that culminated in painting tiles of what peace means to each person. Through the integration of the visual arts, a curriculum and program was taught that focused on tolerance, understanding, and non-violence, and collectively learned ways to develop positive and proactive solutions to resolving conflicts and defusing anger. The project has been developed and implemented by residents for residents—a true community endeavor.

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

24

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am thankful to be a part of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS Group. From time to time I volunteer with them and enjoy working with the kids that they mentor. I've done two sessions with their Rangers group and I've seen the kids interact creatively with each other, be it working individually or as a team.

31

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I think it is great Barbara's group is stepping up it's focus on youth programming. Under HVNPG stewardship the neighborhood parks have been turned and are looking great again. Now the task is to develop leadership skills in the youth to keep the momentum moving forward.

25 Gatekeeper

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Koshland Park and the other parks that comprise the Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS Group. I live on the same block as Koshland Park, and walk my dogs there in the morning and most evenings. About 3 or 4 years ago, Barbara Wenger asked if I wanted to volunteer and open the terraced part of the park in the morning, and relunctantly I agreed. Since then, I've been opening Koshland Park nearly every morning, and take pride in my role. I enjoy providing this service to my neighbors and the neighborhood! Opening the park makes me feel part of a larger community as so many of us enjoy Koshland Park differently. Over the years, I have met many people and have made some good friends too! In the morning, I open the park for my fellow dog-walkers and their beloved furry friends. I also open the park for some neighbors who practice Tai Chi. Occasionally they will break their pose to say goodmorning or pat a dog on the head. The gardeners who have plots in Koshland Park are also very pleasant and have often given me flowers or herbs to show their appreciation for my role as "gatekeeper". In general, HVNPG brings neighbors of all walks of life together. Our parks are great for communities, neighbors, families and visitors. They serve as our backyards and withouth HVNPG the quality of life in Hayes Valley would not be as rich. Thanks again HVNPG!

24

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A terrific resource in my neighborhood. It enriched my life tremendously. This group helps our neighborhood to stay clean, provides a safe park where I can sit and relax and listen to the birds.

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group brings beauty to our community while also providing a great place to grow your own food and learn from others. They are so open with information and tips about gardening and it feels great to be a part of making this area a better place for everyone to live in.

23 gail

Volunteer

Rating: 5

With Barbara's leadership over the years, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS Group has made a major impact on the lives of the people who live here. Our children are finding purpose in their lives by nurturing seedlings and gardens. The gardens the residents maintain as volunteers fill them with pride. All residents, young and old, are finding common ground and ownership in taking back our neighborhood from years of neglect. This HVPG organization has played a key role in showing the way how to provide a vision, create the plan, and lead the people. May other city garden orgaizations learn from the master!! BRAVO!! Gail Baugh, Hayes Valley

22

Volunteer

Rating: 4

One thing to add, I only recently moved to Hayes Valley and wanted to know who was "in charge" of the Patricia's Green to that I could make it "my own" too. HVNPG was one of the handful of community based groups that encouraged me to "take charge" and facilitated my contacts with the city's Rec and Park department and other players. Last month, with help, I organized a Patricia's Green Clean Up and have scheduled two more through November. At this past event there were twenty members of the neighborhood and their friends with the full cooperation of Rec and Park gardener. And as somewhat of a bonus (as surprise to me) also present was the Rec and Parks volunteer coordinator, two custodial workers, two department supervisors, tools, plants, mulch for everyone's enjoyment. The best part of the deal was pruning of the palm trees and a much needed power washing of the paving and furniture. And all for making a few phone calls!

27

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer here on Citizen Patrol and I also do a clown, Curly the Clown, for different nonprofit community events, like play days in the parks and things like that. *This review collected during the 7th Annual Western Addition National Night Out and entered by GreatNonprofits staff on behalf of the reviewer

21

Volunteer

Rating: 4

HVNPG was charged with encouraging the rebirth of a group of Hayes Valley Parks when the surrounding SFHA projects were slated for redevelopment. The group has transformed three parks nearest to Hayes Valley North and South housing developments to lovely spaces accessible to everyone in the case of Koshland Park and Page St. Park and provided private garden plots to serious greenthumbers in what was once an empty lot close to John Muir School. Young kids from the school have science classes conducted in the learning garden and older kids, the BEET Rangers, are provided H.S. credit and stipends to maintain a regular work schedule maintaining the garden landscaping.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got involved with the Koshland Garden and they try to keep up, cleaning up. Right now they;re trying to do a peace wall and open up the park. I help in the garden, tidy up and do the maintenance, and I like to get involved. They try so many different activities and different things. Barbara [of HVNPG] is a great person, doing whatever she can for the community. *This review collected during the 7th Annual Western Addition National Night Out and entered by GreatNonprofits staff on behalf of the reviewer