Located just steps away from Sprouts Farmers Market Store 126 (Henderson, Texas) is Solar Preparatory School for Boys, whose mission is to inspire boys from grades PreK – 4 to live with passion and purpose. As the first public all-boys elementary school in Texas, Solar Preparatory strives to provide students with age and gender appropriate boundaries, high expectations and opportunities to reach their full potential. Eager to expand and support experiential learning, their administration was excited when presented with the unique opportunity to partner with Out Teach to construct a new outdoor learning space.
“We chose to partner with Out Teach because we want to go from explanation to exploration with our scholars. Our scholars are Solar Explorers, and our boys learn best through exploration. They need opportunities and learning environments that they’re able to engage with and that enrich their learning.”
– Derek Thomas, Solar Preparatory School Principal
With Solar Preparatory’s teachers and administrators on board, Out Teach turned to longtime supporter, Sprouts, to help bring the garden to life. Through an $80,000 investment from the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, materials for the project were purchased, but the Sprouts team knew they could not do the build alone. And so they recruited the help of high school volunteers, and their mothers, through the local Young Men’s Service League (YMSL), an organization that works “to assist, serve, and support those who are in need in our community, develop leadership skills among our membership and promote mother-son relationships.”
Kristen Blum, Chair of the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation and Board Member of Sprouts Farmers Market, regularly volunteers with her son through Young Men’s Service League, and she jumped at the opportunity to connect her favorite organizations in support of the school. “I’m really excited as a member of Young Men’s Service League to partner with the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation,” said Blum. Reflecting on Sprouts’ involvement, she notes “It just brings that extra emphasis on how this is done right and how this contributes to the community. I think the young men are learning a lot from having the Sprouts Healthy Communities partnership.”
With the garden plans in place, 150 young men and their mothers and 25 Sprouts team members came together on a chilly Saturday morning to construct the new classroom, donating 550 service hours in just one day! Together, the volunteers transformed the empty space into a thriving garden complete with an outdoor classroom, sensory foot path, root viewers, bird houses, a little library and more.
Thanks to the Young Men’s Service League and Sprouts volunteers, 350 students now have access to outdoor learning every day and 30 teachers have access to Out Teach’s curriculum and support, helping them unlock student performance. We look forward to the new garden space empowering children with the knowledge, tools, confidence, and desire to access fresh, healthy food and providing nutrition education that will last a lifetime.