Green Schoolyards

Partnerships and Pilot Programs

Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities

The transformation of school grounds into nature-rich environments where children and families can play and learn outdoors is a critical component of improving community health. With just a small fraction of public schoolyards in the U.S. providing any kind of natural area, creating access to green space on schoolyards—the only public lands specifically allocated for use by children—will have lasting impact on children’s health and well-being, particularly the most vulnerable children.

The Children & Nature Network is launching a three-year project to support cities and schools in increasing the prevalence of green schoolyards across the U.S. In this project, C&NN will:

  • Create a national strategy and leadership team to refine the vision and increase the number of green schoolyards in America.
  • Establish a strong evidence base and metrics in support of green schoolyards as a strategy for improving community health.
  • Increase capacity to educate decision-makers with nationally coordinated public information campaigns.
  • Support strong city/school partnerships to implement green schoolyards, in alignment with Cities Connecting Children to Nature, a joint initiative of the Children & Nature Network and the National League of Cities.
  • Work with city demonstration sites to develop community action plans that advance the policies, partnerships, and funding needed to foster green schoolyards.


Jaime Zaplatosch, Director, Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities

Download the full Children & Nature Network Green Schoolyards Report:

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Download the Green Schoolyards infographics in full color or black and white.

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Green Schoolyards and Academic Outcomes

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Green Schoolyards and Beneficial Play

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Green Schoolyards and Physical Activity

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Green Schoolyards and Mental Health Benefits

Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities Initiative Highlights

  • Engaging schoolyard and cross-sector experts nationwide through  site visits and focus groups in 16 U.S. cities and through interviews with more than 75 professionals to understand the landscape of the field.
  • Convening  cross-sector leaders from around the world at the Children & Nature Network 2015 Conference (April 2015) and at the National Green Schoolyards Summit in Chicago (May 2015) to generate  green schoolyard strategies for deeper and broader community impact.
  • Synthesizing existing green schoolyard models and practices into components of successful implementation in order to consider broad replication and scale of successful local models.


Evidence supporting nature-based, place-based education or experiential learning (as this approach is variously called) has been building for decades … In many districts, technology does continue to rule the school day. Rejecting digital tools isn’t the point. These tools are useful. But so is nature. Green schools are growing into a strong counter trend — as even some technologists question the underlying assumptions leading us to techno-overkill.Richard Louv, Chairman Emeritus, Children & Nature Network


Natural schoolyards can strengthen the social fabric of the wider community. During the school day, they provide opportunities for children to play and learn in nature; and when these green oases are opened to the public after hours and on weekends, families spend more quality time together, elders enjoy walking paths and sitting peacefully outdoors among neighbors, and children enjoy more active and independent play in safe places.Richard Louv, Chairman Emeritus, and Margaret Lamar, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Children & Nature Network


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