Green Our Planet Grows Through the Sands Cares Accelerator
Through the Sands Cares Accelerator, we help fast-track nonprofit organizations toward the next stage of their operational development. Member organizations receive financial support to aid in their capacity building, as well as mentoring and other assistance through the duration of their three-year engagements with the program. Member Green Our Planet, in year two of their membership, is making great strides in achieving their organizational goals.
Operators of the largest school garden program in the United States, Green Our Planet is dedicated to advancing STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) for students around the country. With a history of teaching students to love and care for the planet we all call home, and a track record of delivering innovative programming and learning tools to students, especially those from low-income and at-risk areas, they joined the Accelerator to help grow the reach of their already-impactful work.
Work that includes a truly novel hydroponics program, through which students learn to grow sustainable food sources using up to 90% less water than traditional agricultural methods – ideal for those living in less-forgiving climates. “Teaching more students how to grow food in this sustainable manner helps improve the overall health of their communities,” said Ciara Byrne, Green Our Planet co-founder and co-CEO. “These methods use less resources and less space than traditional agriculture, but can produce ten times the amount of food.” With funding and assistance from the Accelerator, the hydroponics program has been able to expand its reach all around the country.
They have also made great strides in launching and expanding other programs, as well. Pranav Jamponi, executive director of sustainability at The Venetian Resort, joined Green Our Planet as a board member and helped develop their HydroHealth program, which connects Green Our Planet with various corporations, and will help develop a sustainable, long-term revenue stream. They have also been able to launch a Virtual Academy which delivers STEM, nutrition and conservation films to teachers and students.
Long-term, following their graduation from the Accelerator, Green Our Planet will expand their team to include a full marketing department, and will establish self-sustaining businesses around the HydroHealth and Virtual Academy programs that will help generate permanent, long-term revenues. “We’re growing as an organization right now, but we’re also setting ourselves up for success in the future,” Byrne said. “Sands’ overall support and our membership in the Accelerator is helping us dramatically build our capacity, so we can reach more students and improve the health of more communities.”