Osborn Neighborhood to Transform Vacant Lots into an Outdoor Education Center

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Osborn Neighborhood to Transform Vacant Lots into an Outdoor Education Center

American Forests and Bank of America Support Environmental Stewardship Efforts by The Greening of Detroit and Osborn Neighborhood Alliance

Washington, D.C. (April 22, 2016) — The Greening of Detroit, in partnership with Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, is creatively repurposing four vacant lots into an outdoor education center at Mapleridge and Schoenherr streets on Detroit’s east side. The project is funded by American Forests and Bank of America.

Osborn residents, youth from Osborn neighborhood schools, and volunteers from Bank of America and American Forest will install the natural ecosystems along with The Greening’s staff on May 4-7. Participants will learn about the vegetative materials planted, the habitats being created, and the benefits of the installation.

Engaging community members in the development of the site will help create a sense of commitment to caring for the space.  Volunteers will also learn the skills to activate other natural low-maintenance community gathering spaces on vacant land across the city. This site will become a nationally-certified pollinator and natural habitat space.

In coordination with the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance and Detroit Public Schools, The Greening of Detroit will offer up to 20 environmental education courses in the first year. These courses are designed to increase appreciation of natural spaces, emphasize the uniqueness and restorative effects these spaces have on people, and help improve their connection to the environment in which they live. The Greening’s natural resource professionals will also teach ecosystem stewardship courses at the outdoor space to promote natural maintenance practices.

A land analysis performed by The Greening indicated the city of Detroit has a low percentage of natural open-space parkland compared to designed recreational parkland. Cultivating the next generation of environmental stewards requires exposure to the natural environment.

The outdoor education center is located in close proximity to Brenda Scott Academy and Osborn High School.  “We are very excited about this project, particularly because it has the potential to stimulate interest in learning more about the environment and our natural ecosystems,” said Dean Hay, The Greening’s director of Green Infrastructure.  “I hope the outdoor center will also introduce urban youth to some of the opportunities in the green job sector.”

“Bank of America is dedicated to environmental sustainability and believes that global change requires local community action. That’s why we’re working together with American Forests, The Greening of Detroit and the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance on this great urban project,” said Matt Elliott, Michigan market president, Bank of America. “Transforming vacant lots into an outdoor education center demonstrates our commitment to revitalize Detroit and will provide benefits to the city for years and generations to come.”

The new outdoor education space is meant to provide access to supplemental education opportunities that meet Michigan Grade Level Content Expectation minimums at all age levels, especially for earth science and career-based learning. The space will offer opportunities for connecting people to a restorative natural space that encourages safe exploration and ecosystem-based learning, as well as exposure to natural resource career experiences.

“This Outdoor Education Center illustrates the many environmental, economic and social benefits that well-designed, active green spaces can provide a city,” said Scott Steen, President and CEO of American Forests. “We’re very excited to continue our partnership with the citizens of Detroit, helping this great city become a visionary model for green cities worldwide.”

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ABOUT AMERICAN FORESTS

American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the first national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many key milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems as well as leading literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. Working in forests in all 50 states and in 45 countries, American Forests planted its 50 millionth tree last year. The impact has resulted in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at americanforests.org.

ABOUT BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

At Bank of America, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is critical to fulfilling our core purpose of making people’s financial lives better. A commitment to growing our business responsibly is embedded in every aspect of our company, from our policies and practices to our services, products, governance and employee benefits. An important part of that commitment is forming strong partnerships across sectors, including nonprofit organizations serving community needs, bringing our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. We’re proud of our employees’ volunteer efforts, support of diversity and inclusion, and environmental and social responsibility. Across our company, we’re focused on simplifying banking and investing, advancing better money habits and making an impact in communities around the world. Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/about and follow us on Twitter at @BankofAmerica.

ABOUT THE GREENING OF DETROIT

Inspiring sustainable growth of a healthy urban community through trees, green spaces, food, education, training and job opportunities. We have been growing a healthier, greener Detroit for 27 years.  Find out more at www.greeningofdetroit.com.

MEDIA CONTACT

Christopher Horn | Director of Communications | 202.370.4517 (direct) | 913.549.0769 (cell) | chorn@americanforests.org

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