Seattle Public Schools

Summer Self Helps Projects

Volunteers Work with Self Help Project Team to Make Schools Shine 

Summer was anything but lazy for our Self Help Projects team and hundreds of volunteers who tackled many schools’ wish lists during Seattle’s sunnier months. 

Here are a few of their recent accomplishments.

South Shore and Dunlap

South Shore PreK-8 and Dunlap Elementary had nearly 100 volunteers from Deloitte on June 10 to paint play areas, fill approximately 30-yard waste bags, spread seven yards of arbor mulch, build and fill two new garden beds, and remove litter. Deloitte volunteers also held a supply drive for both schools and donated the supplies on Sept. 2. 

Four men work on a project on a school playground

Rainier View

Rainier View Elementary had roughly 50 volunteers from the Seneca Group on Aug. 4 to create four new raised garden beds, build a new garden tool shed and gravel pad, fill more than 40-yard waste bags, removed litter, spread 10 yards of arbor mulch, and compost, and used more than 16 gallons of colorful paint to add a new world map and hopscotch flower design to the school yard. 

Four women paint on a sidewalk on a playground


Meany Middle School received attention from more than 50 volunteers from the Seattle Mariners organization, who were hosted by the Self Help Projects team on Aug. 17. Volunteers filled more than 50-yard waste bags, moved more than nine yards of arbor mulch, removed litter, and beautified three rain gardens in need of stewardship. 

School courtyard with tools

Roxhill and Emerson

Roxhill @ EC Hughes Elementary welcomed City Year’s 45 volunteers on Aug. 19. Volunteers moved three yards of arborist mulch, filled more than 50-yard waste bags, and beautified the grounds surrounding the school by tackling blackberry plants, clearing plants from windows, and adding color to the play area map of the U.S. 

Emerson Elementary also benefited from City Year’s help with 25 volunteers from Pitchbook. On Sept. 6, volunteers filled about 30-yard waste bags, weeded two learning garden areas, spread three yards of mulch, added colorful paint to the four-square court, and created a “hungry caterpillar” alphabet game in the Pre-K area. 

A painted caterpillar on a school sidewalk in the playground

Graham Hill

The Self Help Projects team recently was able to squeeze in one more project during Seattle’s extended summer weather at Graham Hill Elementary on Sept. 24. The school collaborated with Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) and 40 volunteers to design and build items to support their outdoor learning garden space and kindergarten play area. Volunteers helped MKA’s designs become a reality by creating a new 60-foot mural, designed and built new garden boxes, a covered outdoor classroom, a bike path, sensory wall, and tool/trike storage. 

Two volunteers work together on a project in a school courtyard

Self Help Projects Program

Self Help Projects Program Manager Colleen Weinstein and Operations Specialist Thabisa Mazur are appreciative of these volunteer groups who work with the district to host projects at our schools and those who are stewards of our sites on an ongoing basis by providing weekly or monthly care by tending school gardens, filling tree watering bags in the summer months, and removing invasive plants as needed.  

“Many of the schools we send our large volunteer groups to have a long wish list of volunteer improvement projects and often lack the volunteer resources to accomplish them,” Mazur said. “We’re able to provide these groups team-building and community service opportunities with projects that impact the environment where SPS students learn and play.” 

For those interested in improving school buildings or grounds, visit the Self Help Projects webpage for more information. 

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