Heal the Bay Launches New Initiative to Maintain Marine Education Resources
In the face of drastic state cutbacks, Heal the Bay today announced a new fundraising initiative to provide ongoing marine education resources to underserved teachers and schools in Los Angeles County, dubbed "Get on the Bus."
Unfortunately, many school-kids living in Los Angeles have never smelled salt air, felt the wash of the ocean, or heard the sound of waves crashing. That's because many families and communities lack the resources to make a day at the beach possible for their children. School field trips are in danger of becoming a thing of the past for many strapped districts.
Heal the Bay has historically helped fill this gap by facilitating marine science-based field trips, bus transportation, teacher training and curriculum development for dozens of underserved Title 1 schools in Los Angeles County each year. However, state budget cuts have curtailed funding for these types of K-12 education enrichment activities.
In response, the "Get on the Bus" campaign seeks direct community financial support to offset government cutbacks to its award-winning education programs that assist schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. For example, nearly 20,000 students (65% from Title 1 schools) travel to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium each year on buses provided by Heal the Bay.
For fifth-grade teacher Marcella Carrillo, an educational field trip to the Aquarium serves as an essential supplement to her work at Rowan Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles.
"These are inner city kids and most of the parents are low income families who don't have time or money for something as simple as taking their children to the beach," said Carrillo. "The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is a really big resource, teaching conservation and recycling, allowing them to touch the animals. Unfortunately, there's no way that I could provide this experience for my students without the funding."
The "Get on the Bus" campaign allows supporters to underwrite these trips. For example, a $500 donation would allow 65 students from a Title 1 school to come to the Aquarium for a two-hour, hands-on marine science education program. The "Bus" initiative hopes to raise at least $30,000 by the end of the traditional school year.
Among the additional at-risk Heal the Bay educational programs focused on K-12 students:
Key to the Sea, a free environmental education program for L.A. County K-5 teachers, which annually provides training to 450 teachers and 177 beach and aquarium exploration trips, and reaches about 8,000 students a year- 90% Title 1;
Speakers Bureau, a classroom education program that reaches 20,000 students - 95% Title 1;
Lunch and Learn, which provides beach education to 500 Title 1 students per year; and
Healthy Neighborhoods/Creek 101 high school programs that give students field experience and environmental science and advocacy education. Last year we served students from five Title 1 high schools in South L.A. and the Compton area.
Why are these programs so critical? On the most recent fourth-grade science exams compiled by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, California students ranked at the bottom level along with Arizona, Mississippi and Hawaii. Statewide, the California Science Project's funding to train teachers has shrunk to $1.2 million from $9 million in 2002-03 -- half of which were state funds.
A variety of studies have shown that experiential, interactive, and hands-on learning is an effective tool in increasing student comprehension and engagement. Engagement and comprehension are tied to both student retention and performance.
Heal the Bay's educational programs are consistent with California science standards and result in students gaining an understanding of watersheds, aquatic biodiversity and habitats, marine conservation, and pollution prevention.
In order to sustain these impactful programs, Heal the Bay is asking supporters to contribute to the "Get on the Bus" campaign by visiting Donate Now.
For more information on the range of Heal the Bay's education programs, visit For Educators.