April 23, 2003

Toyota Canada and Evergreen provide schools with grants to naturalize their grounds

Toronto, Ontario – This year, 89 grants of up to $1,000 each are being distributed to Canadian schools as part of the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program. In addition, 10 schools will receive an Award of Excellence worth $2,500 each. The schools receive the grants to start or expand school ground naturalization projects.

Evergreen is a national non-profit environmental organization with a mandate to bring nature to cities through naturalization projects. Toyota’s partnership makes it possible for Evergreen to offer grants and awards to all 16,000 schools across Canada. This year, Evergreen received 163 applications.

“Many of our schools offer students cold, concrete school yards with chain link fences that make schools look more like prisons,” says Geoff Cape, Executive Director, Evergreen. “By transforming the school ground to include nature, the learning opportunities literally come alive. These grants are key to helping schools redesign their play space to provide students with a healthy and safe place to play, learn, and develop a genuine respect for nature and each other.”

“The partnership between Evergreen Canada and Toyota Canada and its Dealers represents a shared commitment to make positive contributions to school grounds, the environment and the emotional and physical development of Canada’s future…. our children,” says Mr. Tomikawa, President and CEO for Toyota Canada Inc. “Much more than a beautification program, Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds encourages students to take responsibility for the environment. It is a lesson we hope they will carry with them forever.”

To evaluate the grant applications, Evergreen staff worked with a team of professionals from across Canada who volunteered their time. Five objectively reviewed the grants, and six more (from BC, AB, ON, QC, NS) evaluated each school’s native plant choices. Reviewers included professionals from the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority, Green Teacher magazine,
horticulturists, botanists, landscape architects and teachers.

Each application was evaluated separately. All reviewers followed an established marking scheme and evaluation form. Each question on the application form was given a weight and the marking scheme provided guidelines for grading each component. An estimated 400 hours were volunteered in conducting the review process.

Toyota Canada and Evergreen also announced that their partnership has been renewed and will continue until 2006.

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