The Golden State Warriors, Trust for Public Land (TPL), Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), and Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) have revealed a newly-refurbished basketball court and living schoolyard at Markham Elementary School, it was announced today. This marks the Warriors Community Foundation’s 88th refurbished basketball court since the Foundation’s inception in 2012.
Warriors player Juan Toscano-Anderson and Oakland Unified School District Chief Systems and Services Officer Preston Thomas were in attendance for the court and schoolyard reveal ceremony. The court dedication was followed by a Warriors Basketball Academy clinic for local youth.
“The Warriors Community Foundation’s mission is to strive for educational equity, and we strongly believe access to safe playing spaces and basketball courts is critical to healthy youth development,” said Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Schneider. “We are thrilled to be part of this incredible project that was orchestrated in conjunction with the Trust for Public Land, Oakland Unified School District, and PG&E. As we continue to rebound from the pandemic’s challenges in the educational sector, it is projects and partners like this that are crucial to ensure a bright future for the next generation.”
The renovation of the Markham Elementary School basketball court included the resurfacing of the entire playing area with new lines, center court graphics and logos, new hoops and backboards, and a new mural designed by Favianna Rodriguez, an Oakland-based artist. The newly transformed Markham Elementary Living Schoolyard, completed by the Trust for Public Land in collaboration with the Oakland Unified School District, removed 21,000 square feet of asphalt and replaced it with natural play areas, 84 new trees to cool the yard and provide shade and seating areas for students, a turf field and bioswales to capture stormwater runoff, an outdoor classroom space, new seating and outdoor tables, an expanded vegetable garden and orchard, a new basketball court mural and play structure.
"In an urban school district like Oakland Unified, many students don't have access to nature the way that many of their fellow students in suburban or rural districts do," said OUSD Chief Systems and Services Officer, Preston Thomas. "So, when it's hard to get kids to nature, we should bring nature to the kids, and that's exactly what we are doing in partnership with the Trust for Public Land. We have already unveiled green schoolyards at numerous OUSD schools, and we are excited to unveil another one at Markham Elementary. The natural additions will cool down the school yard, help students learn about the environment, and give young people a better understanding of our world and their place in it."
Markham Elementary, which serves 350 students, is located in Oakland’s Eastmont neighborhood where there is a critical shortage of green, open space. The planning of the living schoolyard at Markham Elementary began over four years ago by engaging the school community to take part in the design process was funded with support from the California State Coastal Conservancy and other private funders.
“With few safe, outdoor play spaces in the community, every element of the reimagined Markham Elementary schoolyard was designed for students and the community to learn, engage, and experience the joy the outdoors can bring,” said Trust for Public Land Senior Program Manager, Annie Youngerman. “Our Living Schoolyards program is helping build healthier, more resilient communities across Oakland and we’re proud to partner with OUSD and the Warriors Community Foundation to bring this space to life.”
“At PG&E, we know that the youth in our hometowns are among our most important assets, and our responsibility to help nurture. Providing safe, green spaces for young people to play, learn and grow is essential,” said Executive Director of The PG&E Corporation Foundation, Stephanie Isaacson. “We are proud to be a part of this wonderful project with the Warriors Community Foundation in Oakland, our new PG&E hometown headquarters, and look forward to seeing families in the Markham Elementary neighborhood enjoy this new green space for generations to come.”
The Markham Elementary School was refurbished in partnership with the Warriors, PG&E, the Trust for Public Land and Project Backboard, as part of the Makin’ Hoops program, created 25 years ago by the Warriors Community Foundation and the Good Tidings Foundation, which has restored more than 85 basketball courts in the Bay Area.
In 2017, OUSD partnered with Trust for Public Land and Green Schoolyards America to launch a Living Schoolyards Initiative in Oakland to transform asphalt covered playgrounds into vibrant nature-based schoolyards. The vision for the initiative is to transform asphalt-covered school grounds into spaces that promote children’s health and well-being, while creating green and ecologically rich community parks that connect children and their neighborhoods to the natural world outside their classroom door. In April 2021, TPL and OUSD celebrated the opening of the first completed schoolyard at the Cesar Chavez Education Center in the Fruitvale District.