This August, as six million students were making their way back to barren, concrete school campuses throughout the state, thousands from the TreePeople community joined our call for California to go big and invest in school greening. With the help of local champions in the legislature pushing to fund greener campuses for California students, Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg, and Assemblymembers Luz Rivas and Lisa Calderon, California put forth $150 Million towards school greening over the next two years.
On Thursday morning, just hours after Governor Gavin Newsom signed the historic investment into law, CA Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Assemblymember Luz Rivas, LAUSD Board President Kelly Gonez, and TreePeople CEO Cindy Montañez gathered at Pacoima Middle School to celebrate and speak about this momentous investment. The action approved by the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom comes as the longest and hottest heat wave to sweep across the state this year. The state’s unprecedented increased investment, administered through CALFIRE, will provide additional resources to protect kids, teachers and the school community from extreme heat and the highly dangerous “urban heat island effect”. Shade from trees alone can lower surface temperatures by up to 45 degrees and cool the air around them, lowering air temperatures by up to 9 degrees.
“This investment will increase the pace at which we can green schools,” said TreePeople CEO Cindy Montañez.
Greening campuses goes far beyond providing just cooling benefits. Studies have shown time and time again that greener campuses, especially those with trees, can provide a multitude of mental health benefits for students, including anxiety relief and anger reduction as well as improve learning outcomes by helping create more engaged and attentive students.
“We have to do more and do more quickly to protect our communities from the impacts of climate change,” said Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “We need to make sure our kids our safe from these rising temperatures.”
We know nature based solutions must have a huge role to play in that goal and TreePeople is committed to planting a greener future for our students across Southern California. To learn more about TreePeople’s school greening program, visit www.treepeople.org/green-our-schools.