Weingart Foundation donates $200K towards ECMS Gardena Renovation

(Photo above: ECS is transforming this space into a community village that will be open to all)

We are so thankful for the Weingart Foundation‘s continued support and look forward to our unveiling of the new building.

In 2013, ECS completed phase one of a building project to create 12 classrooms, a play space and offices for for our about 300 middle schools students in Gardena. During the 2013-14 year, ECS raised the additional funds needed to complete the restoration and renovation of the formerly abandoned property, which is now home now home to Environmental Charter Middle School-Gardena.

In this second phase, ECS will convert a second blighted building on the property into the ECS Community Village – a much needed resource to be used by the existing middle school during the day and for after-school programs and community workshops on the weekends and evenings. The 4,575 square foot single story building will be converted into a two story building that will house two large student project areas, community office space, and a large multipurpose assembly area. In addition, two 500 square foot green houses will be added to the second floor of the academic building and 7,500 square feet of outdoor learning spaces will be designed and engineered to provide hands-on instructional resources and features, such as green walls, a solar demonstration, a bicycle-powered audio system, raised bed gardens, and a living stream.

The ECS Community Village will be open to all middle school youth in the Gardena/Harbor Gateway neighborhood for after-school and summer programs, in addition to outdoor recreation on the new playground and outdoor learning centers. ECS will collaborate with select organizations to create the Village including EmpowHer Institute, Social Justice Learning Institute, MESA, YMCA Gardena Carson and the Boys and Girls Club. These partnerships will result in a “collective impact” to improve the lives of the children served by addressing the continuum of educational and social needs. The ECS Community Village will also be home to ECS’ award-winning Green Ambassadors Program, a youth empowerment and leadership program. The space will be used to train students, host student-led community workshops, and for professional development courses for educators.

The completed facility will meet LEED certification – an internationally recognized standard of excellence for building and design strategies aimed at achieving high performance in human and environmental health – and thus will serve as a model school and demonstration site, providing the community with an asset and source of pride.