IDEA Public Charter School

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1027 45th St. NE, Washington, DC 20019 Phone: 202-399-4750
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Environmental Entrepreneurship

Scholars, Staff, and Community Dig and Plant Living Classroom 

When the IDEA community got down in the dirt to finish planting a new garden behind the school containing more than 1,000 native plants and trees, it was a major milestone in a project that began two years ago, but it's just the beginning of exciting growth to come. 
RiverSmart Schools, an initiative of the DC Department of Energy and the Environment, sponsored the creation of the garden after IDEA applied to become a RiverSmart School. Nonprofit Casey Trees supplied the plants and trees along with experts to guide volunteers in how and where to plant them. Natural Resources Design, under the leadership of Lauren Wheeler, served as designer and general contractor for the project.
The garden will help improve the health of the Anacostia River and the Anacostia and Potomac Watersheds by alleviating storm runoff from the neighborhood that typically flows into the river, bringing with it pollutants. Instead, the garden will absorb and divert that water. 
Pollinators--many of which have decreased dangerously in numbers in recent years, threatening our country's food supply--will have another source of plants from which to derive pollen, which helps our region to grow produce. IDEA's own Beekeeping Club has hives on the school roof whose bees have been struggling to make honey. We also maintain fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens outside in greenhouses and raised beds--constructed by our own Academy of Construction and Design scholars--that will benefit from pollination.
Not only will the garden benefit the local community and the broader environment, but it will also serve as an evolving living classroom that IDEA scholars and staff can use to study biology, environmental science, ecology, and more. And as the trees and plants mature, the garden will simply provide shade and a leafy green oasis in the middle of a city block. 
DC Department of Energy & Environment Awards RiverSmart Schools Grant to IDEA 

December 15, 2016--IDEA will grow even greener in 2017, thanks to a recent RiverSmart Schools grant from the DC Department of Energy and Environment. Funding from the grant will enable IDEA to transform the asphalt parking lot and alley into an eco-friendly area, including green space where we can plant more kitchen gardens and fruit trees. 

DC Students Construction Trade Foundation partners have agreed to demolish the asphalt at no cost to IDEA, and we will replace some of the surface with permeable tiles that prevent stormwater run-off that damages the Anacostia River. 

Casey Trees, which has collaborated before with IDEA's Green Club, has agreed to donate and help plant trees in the new green space.

Benefits of the grant will multiply for the school and community, as the new projects will improve the school environment, involve students in designing and building the new space, decrease the amount of IDEA's water bill so that money can be used for student projects, and ultimately help protect the Anacostia Watershed. 

Click here to learn more about the RiverSmart Schools initiative.
ACAD Students Install New Cistern on Handmade Base to Collect Rainwater to Irrigate Gardens

December 15, 2016--After building the base in construction class, Academy of Construction and Design students installed a 1,500-gallon cistern outside the school building to collect rainwater. The cistern will serve two purposes: use the rainwater to irrigate the gardens that students have created and maintain to feed students and the community, and divert stormwater run-off that pollutes the Anacostia River.