South Philly High School's Greening Plan

  • South Philly High School's Greening Plan

Quick Pitch

South Philadelphia High School has the potential to transform its concrete-dominated 5.5 acre urban campus into a beautiful and dynamic green environment, but we need your help!

The development of a campus-wide Greening Master Plan and the employment of a Garden Coordinator are the first steps in enabling this historic institution to transform itself and establish a bold new precedent for public schools in Philadelphia. In the face of a crumbling public school system, you have the power to help us create innovative outdoor educational opportunities for South Philly High's diverse student body and the greater community. Improvements will include an educational rooftop farm, outdoor classrooms and ground-level improvements like rain gardens and tree plantings aimed at empowering students and residents and fostering innovation. The community-driven project will demonstrate sustainable campus design strategies that address stormwater management, fresh food access, healthy eating and outdoor education. Thank you for your support!

About The Project


South Philadelphia High School (SPHS's) urban location and commitment to neighborhood collaboration since 1907 make it an ideal candidate for a community-driven sustainability initiative. Affectionately called 'Southern' by locals, the school successfully functions as both an educational and community hub. The one-square-block campus, located on Broad Street, is accessible to all visitors, although it lacks the usable green space characterized by parks and gathering spaces in adjacent neighborhoods.

From the rooftop to the parking lot, the new Greening Master Plan and garden coordinator will set the stage for a complete retrofit of the campus to happen – promoting stormwater management, outdoor education, healthy eating, community involvement, and curriculum-building opportunities.

As a highly visible pillar of the South Philadelphia community, SPHS will demonstrate to other schools and communities that being a steward of the environment and addressing sustainability issues can create aesthetically-pleasing, interactive and practical spaces for the entire community.


This project represents a collaboration between SPHS and the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association (LoMo), a local neighborhood advocacy group. SPHS is a racially and ethnically diverse public high school with a large English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program and roughly nine hundred students. LoMo is a community-based, volunteer driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, whose mission is to improve the quality of life in their South Philadelphia neighborhood. Since 2009, LoMo and SPHS have routinely partnered on neighborhood and school improvement projects, such as planting berry bushes and street trees, organizing art installations, and building the school's two vegetable gardens. It's vital that students continue to experience the lessons of building a network, setting an example, and cultivating pride in themselves and their community as they decide whether to pursue graduation, college and careers.


Working closely with both SPHS and LoMo, the Garden Coordinator will be in charge of designing, promoting and implementing a student-led agriculture program. Collaboratively-grown vegetables and fruits (using chemical-free practices) will be used in the school's Culinary Arts program, sold at low-cost farm stands and donated to the community.

Further solidifying the partnership between LoMo and SPHS, the coordinator will work with teachers to incorporate the garden into their curriculums, lead hands-on garden lessons for students and community members and engage both the school and neighborhood in envisioning increased greening and beautification on campus.


The Greening Master Plan for the entire campus will be undertaken by Roofmeadow, an innovative Philadelphia-based design and engineering firm. Roofmeadow will engage students and teachers during the process of site survey, which will be used to create a conceptual campus plan. The plan will then be shared with the community through open meetings, where the public can share their questions, comments, concerns, and ideas.

The rooftop plan will involve food production zones, perennial beds, extensive vegetation zones, gathering spaces, outdoor classrooms, and solar panel arrays. The roof is one of the neighborhood's largest vacant surfaces, and possibly its most under-utilized resource. Greening this space will fulfill critical environmental priorities by managing stormwater, improving water quality, and cooling the air above the school. In addition to the environmental benefits, this space will function as an educational tool. Students and teachers will be an integral part of the planning and design process to create an outdoor classroom that fits their needs. The rooftop will be open to the public via workshops, tours, community programming, and events.

The ground-level portion of the plan will involve pavement removal and the installation of rain gardens, perennial plantings, street trees, and increased vegetable garden infrastructure. Students, teachers, and neighbors have already begun to plan for a native species arboretum. Linking the arboretum, vegetable gardens, and school building will be a series of veneer landscapes, linear tree islands, porous pavement, cisterns, and seating.


In light of this desire to move forward despite budgetary constraints, we need generous donations from others to make this project a reality. Projexity's crowd-sourced fundraising will build an even bigger community around our project, school, and neighborhood. We hope that this heightened sense of community inspires the students at SPHS to learn critical skills and strive for greatness.

From a sustainability standpoint, this project is both cutting-edge and extremely important. Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter is determined to make Philadelphia the greenest city in America, and our square block project can serve as a model for residents, commercial building owners, universities, businesses and other K-12 schools to follow. While our site may seem unique, the roof, parking lot and minimal existing green space is common throughout the city. South Philadelphia in particular is dominated by impervious surfaces and has few large parks.

By making the design process public and the completed space open, people can learn from LoMo and SPHS and apply lessons to their own projects no matter what the scale is. We are not aiming to spear-head an exclusive new project; we are inviting the city to tackle sustainability issues, neighborhood beautification and civic pride with us. Thanks for your support!


Sponsorship Info

How could we reach our goal?
2,630 sponsors giving $10
263 sponsors giving $100
132 sponsors giving $200
53 sponsors giving $500

About LoMo Civic Association

LoMo Civic Association

The Lower Moyamensing Civic Association (LoMo) is a community-based, volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is improve the quality of life in our neighborhood. LoMo was formed in February 2007 by neighborhood residents to serve our focus area between Snyder to Oregon Avenues, Broad to Eighth Streets in South Philadelphia

show me more