Congressman Kennedy was successful in securing a $280,000 federal appropriation to help jump-start the four-year initiative. The program is a collaboration between RICAPE, the University of Rhode Island College of the Environment and Life Sciences (URI/CELS), and the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association (RINLA).
“As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, it gives me great pleasure to assist in bringing back federal dollars to Rhode Island for educational programs,” said Kennedy. “Creating gardens and learning more about nature is a valuable experience for students and community members of any age. But this campaign reaches beyond that immediate goal. It’s also about building pride in your community and establishing new relationships with others.”
The Children’s Garden Network Team from RICAPE and URI will coordinate the campaign. The Network will provide information, guidance and services to Rhode Island’s schools and garden teams. It will also link schools and youth organizations in sharing knowledge and experiences from their garden programs. The CGN will be accessible via the website www.childrensgardennetwork.org due for launch in Spring of 2007.
Stu Nunnery, RICAPE Director, believes that a garden at every school will have a lot to do with growing the next generation of children and the one after that. “These gardens will give us common ground, a centerpiece for capacity building and good will, in every city, town and village from one end of Rhode Island to the next. They will nurture children’s awareness, confidence and connections to the natural world, promote hands-on, lifelong learning and foster literacy about many things. Connected to the classroom, gardens in every school will be an exciting platform for learning.”
Original funding to RICAPE for this initiative comes from a $280,000 Federal appropriation through the office of Rep. Patrick Kennedy by way of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) in collaboration with the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association (RINLA). Long-term, RICAPE will be engaged in a variety of fund development strategies to secure grants, donations and the creation of an endowment to provide funding to reach the goals for 2010 and beyond.
During 2007, seven schools/youth organizations will be selected by Mid-March 2007 to receive grants, twelve-month training, technical assistance and other services to assist them to build successful and sustainable garden education programs. As one of the requirements of the program, winning schools will have to “pay it forward” to ensure that other schools receive the benefits of their know-how and experiences from the program.
Any school or youth organization in Rhode Island is eligible to apply for participation in this year’s program whether or not a garden is currently maintained or planned. Garden ideas of all types, shapes, and sizes will be considered. Simply request an application from RICAPE via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 401-213-6420 or by regular mail, to CGN c/o RICAPE. PO Box 40940, Providence, RI 02940