The Dynegy Trees for Growth initiative will add 125 trees to the school campus and community
PHILADELPHIA, April 22, 2021 --- Dynegy, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and the Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, part of the School District of Philadelphia, on Thursday formally announced a two-year partnership to significantly increase the tree canopy of the North Philadelphia public school campus and its surrounding community.
Local officials, Dynegy and PHS leaders, and members of the Bethune community planted 13 trees along the Ontario Street side of the school campus as part of the Dynegy Trees for Growth program, which will add 100 trees to the school campus and another 25 trees on streets adjacent to or near Bethune. Prior to this project, the census tract that includes Bethune had tree canopy coverage of 6.79 percent, far below the city of Philadelphia’s goal of 30 percent in every neighborhood.
“By adding 125 trees in and around Bethune, Dynegy Trees for Growth is helping to mitigate extreme urban heat and its direct and indirect impact on this North Philadelphia community, while supporting the city of Philadelphia’s goal to reach 30 percent tree canopy,” said Brad Watson, senior director of community affairs for Dynegy, which invested nearly $100,000 in this project. “The immediate benefits include more shade relief in a neighborhood where temperatures are regularly 4 degrees higher than Philadelphia’s average. Long-term, we are hopeful that growing trees will also grow young minds, as studies show greening has the potential to help advance academic achievement in urban schools.”
This partnership began in summer 2020 when more than a dozen members of the Bethune School community, including students, teachers and local neighbors, participated in tree planting and stewardship workshops to become a PHS-certified Tree Tender.
“Our PHS Tree Tender program provides the framework for a collaborative and inclusive project that ensures the long-term stewardship and sustainability of this expanding tree canopy,” said Tim Ifill, PHS associate director of Trees. “The Dynegy Trees for Growth initiative is a critical step within our larger efforts in North Philadelphia, including the Nicetown and Tioga neighborhoods, where PHS continues to work with communities on the cleanup and maintenance of vacant lots, as well as helping to plan future public green spaces to include trees.”
“Enlarging the tree canopy on campus benefits Bethune scholars, staff and faculty, and our community,” said Principal Aliya Catanch-Bradley. “The addition of the 100 trees helps us to literally begin to breathe again both physically and mentally. This project will support the ability of our children to play in shade and encourage our children to have more outdoor activity, which they need desperately. The Bethune Bears are proud to support and be supportive of the efforts to build our local tree canopy through Dynegy Trees for Growth.”
The Earth Day tree planting event at Bethune follows the December 2020 planting of seven trees at the school. The Bethune planting is a signature event for PHS, which is planting 950 trees in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania during this Earth Month and leading into Arbor Day. Working with more than 75 of its regional Tree Tender groups and community organizations in addition to hundreds of neighborhood volunteers, over 80 unique tree planting events will span the five-county region.
Since 2002, Dynegy, and its parent company, Vistra, have partnered with cities, counties, schools, and nonprofits to provide more than 300,000 trees through Dynegy Trees for Growth. Through these donations, the company has helped generate environmental savings and health benefits for municipalities and residents valued at approximately $37 million annually throughout the life of the trees.
About Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization founded in 1827, plays an essential role in the vitality of the Philadelphia region by creating healthier living environments, increasing access to fresh food, growing economic opportunity, and building deeper social connections between people. PHS delivers this impact through comprehensive greening and engagement initiatives in more than 250 neighborhoods; an expansive network of public gardens and landscapes; year-round learning experiences; and the nation’s signature gardening event, the Philadelphia Flower Show. PHS provides everyone with opportunities to garden for the greater good as a participant, member, donor, or volunteer. For information and to support this impactful work, please visit PHSonline.org.