Hope Park, which stands across from the old Cody High school in Detroit, is perfectly named. On a recent winter morning, however, it looked anything but hopeful, covered in snow and empty, like the streets around it. But this “little park that could” has been experiencing a rebirth over the summer and fall 2020 that will continue to help Detroit students learn sustainability, energy conservation and urban farming.
The Hope Park project is part of a larger umbrella Americorp EcoWorks program through Detroit Public Schools and the Detroit Public Schools Education Foundation. DFCU Financial recently made a $10,000 donation that will help keep EcoWorks and Youth Energy Squads (YES) of 1,000 students going.
“This groundbreaking program engages these students around sustainability activities including water and energy conservation, food security and nutrition,” says Co-Director Latia Leonard of the YES initiative. These squads go on “energy audits water to find water or energy leaks at schools and homes in the Detroit area, create food and rain gardens in communities.
“These students help identify where lights are left on in empty buildings and where prominent water leaks are to help save money,” said Latia. “They are also encouraged--and successful--to make these changes at their own homes with their own families.”
For 10 years, EcoWorks’ team of AmeriCorps Green School Coordinators has facilitated Green Teams at over 70 DPSCD schools, engaging more than 3,600 students in hands-on sustainability projects that explore topics such as recycling, energy, water, gardens, and nutrition. Their work has supported more than $1.2 million in reduced utility costs for the district, in addition to many notable achievements in STEM learning, youth leadership, and community engagement.
Working with The Greening of Detroit, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, and Detroit Department of Transportation, this program helps students learn important local engagement practices including community gardens, tree planting, conservation workshops, and much more.
As part of its commitment to Detroit and surrounding neighborhoods, DFCU Financial is proud to partner with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.
“We are so thankful for DFCU’s continued support,” said Amy DeWys, Director of Development for the Foundation. “It is an amazing effort on the part of so many involve and these students are making an impact that will be felt for years to come!”