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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

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Board Member

Rating: 5

Some of the things I worry about the most: the environment, food security, poverty and its impacts of families, community breakdown and violence, not enough support and help for our kids, education—all of these things are solved by this little neighborhood group with the big impact. I keep wishing this organization could win millions of dollars and expand their program to thousands of kids. Teaching kids to plant food in the community garden, then to harvest it and cook healthy meals. It sounds simple but it is the basic building block of a healthy society—it could be the start of a peaceful revolution!


Board Member

Rating: 5

The program is awesome, allows youth to give back to the community and learn about the environment, as well as nutrition (eating healthy, living gardens)