Community Partners: The Biome School
Just a muddy field–that’s what The Biome School had as an outdoor learning and play space for its students. No matter how often the school attempted to re-sod the area, it was quickly destroyed by the wear and tear of active children, according to president and CEO Mark Kent. “We called it the dust bowl or the mud pit depending on the weather,” he says. That was in 2018. With the help of the Veiled Prophet Organizaiton’s Community Service Initiative (CSI), the charter school in Midtown now has a vibrant, usable green space and playground for its students to enjoy.
Established in the Central West End in 2015, The Biome School serves children in kindergarten through grade five. “We have around 170 students, and our focus is on families from low income communities,” Kent says. “Our mission is to provide a high quality education with strong core academics, a STEAM focus and project-based learning.” The charter elementary school’s dedication to providing the best education possible means the majority of its funding, whether from the state or donations, goes into its classrooms. That makes completing projects like restoring its outdoor space difficult for the school to fund on its own.
The school relies on community partners, like the Veiled Prophet, to make special initiatives possible. “We were able to connect with the VP because a member also was involved with our nonprofit, The Biome Foundation,” Kent explains. “We discussed the issues with our outdoor space, and the VP decided to fund the project.” CSI provides volunteer opportunities to VP members and their families, including the young women who walk in the VP Ball. For The Biome School project, volunteers assembled playground equipment, helped landscape the area with native plants and more.
Along with offering manpower and providing important fiscal support, the organization helped connect the school with critical services and resources that ensured the project ran smoothly. “The VP was really what made this restoration work,” he says. “Its members not only volunteered, but many of them provided services through their own businesses.”
The finished space includes a playground for students to enjoy and an outdoor classroom for lessons. Astroturf was installed so the area is no longer in danger of becoming a mud pit on rainy days. The Biome School has its roots in youth gardening programs, so a garden wall also was included. “The entire renovation was just fantastic,” Kent says. “We now also have a beautiful track that circles the entire property.”
The entire restoration project cost more than $100,000, according to Kent. Without help from community partners, The Biome School would not have been able to complete it on its own. “We’re a small school, and our budget has little room for projects like this, despite how important they are to our students and faculty,” he notes. “It is thanks to partnerships with organizations like the Veiled Prophet that The Biome School can do what it does and focus on its mission to help children learn and grow.”
Photos courtesy of The Veiled Prophet Organization