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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Community Grows

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: CommunityGrows cultivates healthy youth through growing gardens in low-income, diverse neighborhoods.

Results: "I wasn't expecting to open my mind so much,” Eluis, a 2016-17 BEET said. “BEETS has opened my mind to new daily habits with food and helping out the community. I eat less meat and more fruit and veggies." CommunityGrows has provided community development services to the Western Addition neighborhood since 1994. That is when the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group was founded to reclaim Koshland Park from rampant criminal activity. Having been successful, we created the Koshland Park Community Learning Garden and Western Addition Peace Wall. Since then, we have built, renovated and maintained eight other community gardens in San Francisco.

Target demographics: low-income youth and youth of color in San Francisco

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,300 youth

Geographic areas served: Western Addition, Bayview-Hunters Point, Outer Mission/Excelsior

Programs: Since 1994, we have provided garden-based youth development programs which combine environmental, nutrition, and health education with job skills training to help low-income youth and color in San Francisco become healthy leaders in their communities. - Garden Education Program: teaches science, eco-literacy, skill building and teamwork low-income children and youth, ages 5-14, in partnership with 2 public schools and 12 community-based organizations. These classes take place in school, after school, and during the summer. Participants increase their respect for their garden and the environment; gain new knowledge about the environment and science; and learn teamwork by maintaining a garden. -Seed to Mouth Cooking & Nutrition Program: teaches youth about nutrition and healthy eating through weekly after-school and summer cooking classes at community centers and local housing developments. Staff encourage youth to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits, discuss where food grows and how to create delicious, nutritious meals. Youth in the program report increased consumption of and greater interest in healthy foods, improved cooking skills, and greater openness to trying new foods. -BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) is a paid job experience program for youth , ages 15-19. Students learn basic gardening, life and job skills, and leadership as they teach younger students; organize in their communities; and build and maintain gardens in low-income neighborhoods. BEETS youth improve their job readiness; make a positive impact in their community; grow as environmental stewards; develop teamwork skills and build supportive relationships. As BEETS steward their gardens they become stewards of their own lives.

Community Stories

13 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A wonderful program. Helping urban kids make connections between the environment, nutrition, exercise, and their health is so important. We need hundreds of small community-based groups like this in neigbhborhoods across the county.

36

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I moved recently to SF from NYC. Didn't really know anyone and unlike NYC you don't run into people all the time. Started taking my dog to Daniel Koshland Park in the morning and found an awesome community that's really sweet and caring. They make my days start so much better. The day I found a tick on my dog, I freaked out and ran to the park and found folks to help me out. I also found a new home for a poor dog whose owner had passed away and had been trapped in a home by herself for a month. Thank you to the parks group for creating such a wonderful environment!!!

26

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Hayes Valley parks are jewels in our neighborhood thanks to the efforts of HVNPG. Many thanks to all behind the scenes, most notably Barbara Wenger for making it all happen. It's a blessing for us to have safe, well-kept community areas available. I'm personally grateful not only to have Koshland Park at hand to do my Qigong and Tai Chi in but also to Barbara for initiating our group's original qigong class meetings at the park. They've led to an ongoing qigong and tai chi study group (newcomers are always welcome to drop in at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday mornings.) From the opportunities provided to local kids via the Learning Garden, to the chance to compost kitchen scraps, to the wonderful and inspiring Peace Wall we're all much richer for the under-provided-for HVNPG!

25

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS is an invaluable part of our community. Where there was nothing, now there are beautiful parks and a lovely neighborhood destination. There work raises the spirit of the whole neighborhood, from passers by to the students they work with.

25

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

While I don't live in this neighborhood I have frequent occasion to be in the area of Koshland Park. I have seen it evolve to a down trodden place to an thing of beauty. It is quite heartening to be in the park and watch all the activity that goes on there. I find it especially pleasing to see all the children and young people who are planting, playing, and otherwise enjoying the benefit of nature in the middle of the city. The tiled wall couldn't be more pleasing to the eye.

25

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The hayes valley neighborhood parks group does great work. My favorite is the mural on the park wall. Great job involving neighborhood. BEAUTIFUL addition. Beautifying and instilling greater sense of community. BRAVO Sharon Brooks

28

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Barbara Wenger is an outstanding parks representative since she is both an outstanding neighbor and community liaison. She is interested in all things that contribute to the improvement of Hayes Valley. Personally, she has provided excellent advice and counsel to neighbors who want to see the former UC Extension returned to the public as a historic monument that is used for higher public good. She is generous, thoughtful and a very good leader. I hope she is successful with her efforts to achieve a great nonprofit review!

27

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

they make good connections - with school kids, neighbors, the local zen center, restaurants and businesses; the park itself is a gem. i wouldn't want to imagine the neighborhood without their presence.

Previous Stories
28

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

important connecting with the elementary school, the zen center, the park, neighborhood restaurants and other businesses, and neighbors; the park itself is a gem in the neighborhood, and the participation of the students from the nearby school in caring for the garden within the park is just icing on the cake! hvnparks group is filling an important role in bringing everybody together. i can't/don't want to imagine the neighborhood without their presence.

23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Ever spend time in a City neighborhood and need a quiet, nurturing space for your thoughts and reflections? A space where you can spend a few minutes with a book or notebook or an organizer? A space that, because it supports gardening and children and folks in wheelchairs and welcomes each person who wanders through, supports your life too? Graciously planted and maintained Hayes Valley Neighborhood park space is also a place to sit with a friend or chat with a neighbor, a place to walk your dog on leash, a place to admire and learn about urban gardening.

22

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They did the most fantastic job to transform not just this one garden but the whole area so it is actually now save, fun and educational to use this park. Every time I am in the park I want to bow down in front of these people to let them know what fantastic work they did. Thanks, Rene

22 allison

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I worked with HVNPG getting them set up with GNP last year, and during my correspondence with them was lucky enough to be able to go and see them at work during a community night in the area. I saw the great impact that they're making in Hayes Valley, especially regarding the youth. They run gardens and teach kids who participate in their programs about sustainability and conservation, and they really make everything that they do a community effort. The people that I spoke with really felt the impact of HVNPG on an individual level, in that it made them engage with the community and have more of a stake in their neighborhood, and their youth programs help keep local kids off the streets and doing healthy, environmentally friendly outdoor activities. All in all, I think they're doing a great job. Keep up the good work!