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Browning Elementary School

Student smiling while standing in a greenhouse by growing seedlings.

2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Honoree

A catalyst in the rebirth of a community is one way to describe the impact students and staff at Browning Elementary School in Milwaukee have on the surrounding area.

About 20 years ago, the school was relocated to a longstanding food desert. With the COVID-19 pandemic and a large-scale neighborhood redevelopment greatly challenging the community as a whole, students and staff at the 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School stepped up in a powerful way. By bringing underutilized spaces in the community to life and rallying supportive partners with programming and resources, the school is truly living a green dream.

Bringing back a sense of community and identity that was lacking from the redevelopment of the neighborhood was no easy task, and students and staff at the school found many unique ways to accomplish their long-term goals.

The creation of a “Safe Routes to School” program helps improve student safety measures and encourages collaboration throughout the community. The school’s innovative “Walking School Bus” program helps unite those in the community, integrates the school further within it, and addresses attendance and morale challenges in a positive way.

Even after the creation of those community programs, though, students and staff knew they could do more to help. Knowing access to healthy food is a major challenge in the area, the school revitalized an underutilized greenhouse. Not only do students and staff learn firsthand about STEM programming and sustainability, the greenhouse has also become a staple in the community. Those who take advantage of the greenhouse often explore ecotherapy and other methods toward improving wellness, and additional outdoor spaces and gardens around the school promote meditation and other practices that continue to be a key for those struggling with trauma challenges. Browning Elementary School’s sustainability journey eventually led to the creation of a “Seed to Plate” program, helping tell the story of local food and why it’s important for ourselves, the environment, and the community.

Congratulations to Browning Elementary School for being named a 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School!