News From the Nonprofit Accelerator: Green Our Planet

Nov. 28, 2016

Growing up and out, Green Our Planet has been cultivating STEM knowledge in Las Vegas schools and helping fund green projects

By Brian Garcia

November 28. 2016

Las Vegas, NV – Who would have thought, in a city based in the middle of the Mojave Desert, in a school system that has some of the lowest test scores in the United States, and in a desert metropolis nicknamed “Sin City” that a local nonprofit would have quietly built the largest school garden organization in the Western United States? An organization that has not only tripled the number of school gardens in Las Vegas in the last three years bringing the total number of school gardens they have built to 100 but that has also pioneered Las Vegas’ first student-run farmers’ markets and has gotten hundreds of CCSD teachers to teach their classes not inside but in the out-of-doors? And who would have thought that an organization currently helping more than 60,000 students in Southern Nevada learn about conservation, the environment, food and science in an entirely unique way would have been founded by a pair of Emmy-winning documentary filmmakers?

“In 2013, we were looking for a few projects to try out on a crowdfunding platform we had just built,” said Ciara Byrne, Co-Founder, and Co-CEO of the locally-based nonprofit, Green Our Planet. “A friend of ours at a farming company suggested that we try raising money for a few schools that had an interest in getting a school garden—but had no money.”

Three years and 100 school gardens later, with more than $1.5 million dollars raised, Green Our Planet now runs not only one of the largest but also one of the fastest-growing school garden programs in the United States. Green Our Planet could not have made any of these accomplishments without help from the NCLI. Before partnering with the NCLI, Green Our Planet was having some issues with raising money and gaining exposure. Executive Director Ciara Byrne stated, “Just having the space (at the NCLI) helped us out by being able to hire more people, and having a physical address”. Ciara also mentioned that the Historic 5th street school location allowed them to have a place to host meetings and it helped add legitimacy to their organization. Another positive impact that Ciara mentioned was being able to partner with John Wagner, and the contacts that the NCLI was able to help their organization make, really helped with their ability to raise money.  Another benefit for Green Our Planet has been the partnership that they gained with UNLV, specifically with Jenny Pharr from the health science department, who helped them measure the impact of their work. Through these efforts, they have been able to use the data to prove their impacts, which has, in turn, helped them raise more money through grants.

 

Green Our Planet has made great strides to growing their cause and awareness for their organization. Regarding their future goals Ciara says they, “aim to continue to increase their presence in schools here in Clark County, eventually hoping to have one in every school that wants one”. With a waiting list of 55 schools that are seeking a garden Green Our Planet is an excellent example of the up and out model that the NCLI is cultivating. Their school garden initiative and their fee free crowd funding for green projects prove that with care and attention anything can grow, even in the desert!

 

For more information about Green Our Planet or starting your own green project please visit http://www.greenourplanet.org/