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CitySprouts Inc

 1035 Cambridge Street, Suite 6
 Cambridge, MA 02141
[P] (617) 876-2436
[F] --
Jane Hirschi
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3521413

LAST UPDATED: 06/06/2019
Organization DBA CitySprouts
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes


Mission StatementMORE »


The CitySprouts mission is to cultivate wonder for all children with hands-on learning through urban gardening.


Mission Statement


The CitySprouts mission is to cultivate wonder for all children with hands-on learning through urban gardening.


FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Sept 01, 2018 to Aug 31, 2019
Projected Income $865,000.00
Projected Expense $865,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Middle School Youth Program
  • School Partnership Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement


The CitySprouts mission is to cultivate wonder for all children with hands-on learning through urban gardening.


Background Statement

CitySprouts began in 2001 when a group of Cambridge parents, teachers and a dynamic school principal came together over their deep concern for children’s lack of access to outdoor learning experiences and increasing evidence of food insecurity in their community. CitySprouts’ founders saw garden-based learning as uniquely suited to address the juncture of three urgent issues facing children and youth in urban communities: first, access to effective educational resources that engage students in core academic learning; secondly, support for life-long habits of healthy food choice and good health; and finally, consistent opportunities upon which to build a deep connection with the natural world.

A decade later, the CitySprouts program operates in all of the Cambridge Public elementary schools and in 11 Boston Public Schools, serving a population of more than 7,000 children and youth in high-need schools.

In 2008, CitySprouts was chosen as a Social Innovator by the Social Innovation Forum for its results-oriented approach to improving food security and nutrition for Children and Families. The CitySprouts program has been recognized as an outstanding example of environmental education for youth by the City of Cambridge (Cambridge First Day Award 2003) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Massachusetts Certificate of Excellence in Environmental Education in 2007). CitySprouts is active in the emerging movement taking place across the country to develop garden-based learning models that reach children most at risk and with the least access to the resources they need to thrive. CitySprouts director Jane Hirschi describes this work in her book, Ripe for Change: Garden-Based Learning in Schools (Harvard Education Press 2015).

Impact Statement

Our School Partnership Program metrics track a child’s journey through garden-based learning at school. They create a picture of the overall frequency of garden-based activity in each school, students’ access to the garden in educational contexts and the impact that that experience has on students’ learning goals. Program evaluation results show that the CitySprouts program is successful in fostering garden-based learning in the school environment, particularly in science.

CitySprouts is also making a positive difference in children's health. Students are given many opportunities to taste unfamiliar vegetables because evidence suggests that building knowledge and comfort increases the likelihood that they will expand their vegetable consumption in the future. In our summer program, we employ a vegetable preference survey tool to measure changes in participants’ openness to trying new foods, changes in their food preferences and frequency in sharing healthy eating practices or knowledge with family. results show that the CitySprouts program does indeed increase children's likelihood of trying new vegetables, and bringing then home from the school garden to share with their family. Teachers report that the CitySprouts program also positively impacts children's social emotional skills.

CitySprouts Middle School Program is increasing young people’s interest and engagement in science and engineering. We use the Dimensions of Success (DoS), an empirically-based tool that measures quality program practices associated with significant changes in student learning. DoS results consistently show that CitySprouts Middle School program is strong in utilizing the school garden as a learning environment. Our program activities build clear connections to district goals through our middle school curriculum. We create strong communities with the youth we serve through our summer program, reflected in adult-to-youth relationships and also youth-to-youth relationships.

Needs Statement

Garden-based learning has long been recognized as a powerful learning tool for children. Increasingly, evidence also points to the positive relationship between edible gardens and children’s healthy food choice. Thirdly, radical changes in our natural environment are also adding to the urgency to connect children with nature. School gardens have sprouted up around the country yet these are largely concentrated in well-resourced communities, by-passing those most in need of their benefits: under-resourced families living in dense, urban neighborhoods.

CitySprouts’ goal is to bring edible learning gardens to these very communities and further, to develop ways to ensure that garden-based learning becomes a sustainable practice. In Boston, almost 90% of the students in the schools we partner with are low-income. While Cambridge Public Schools is more economically diverse, more than 65% of the youth enrolled in our tuition-free summer program qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. In both cities, many students struggle for mastery of basic academic skills. They also have significantly less access to healthy food and food education than their well-resourced peers. Garden-based learning in CitySprouts’ program lowers the barriers to good health and engaged learning for children.

Fifteen years since the organization’s inception, CitySprouts’ programs now serve more than 7,000 students and 300 teachers in 23 public schools in Boston and Cambridge. CitySprouts is recognized as an innovative school garden program that crosses the boundaries of public education, health and local food systems. Yet clearly there is more to be done to achieve our vision. CitySprouts has prioritized four specific initiatives that we believe will lead to a stronger, more sustainable impact on children’s health and learning.

Establishing CitySprouts summer program in Boston

Building on our 2017 summer pilot at the Holmes School, CitySprouts anticipates establishing its popular summer youth program in Boston in 2018.

Early Education in the School Garden

The goal of this initiative is to build the capacity of early education teachers, families and garden coordinators to utilize the school garden for authentic science learning. Outcomes will impact students, teachers, families and the CitySprouts school garden model.

Evaluating our Impact

Recognizing that CitySprouts programs have grown significantly in depth and reach since we began 15 years ago, we are embarking on a project to re-examine our programs’ impact. We anticipate this will lead to a stronger rationale for our specific approach and a deeper understanding of the difference our interventions on the populations and communities served by CitySprouts.

CEO Statement

When CitySprouts began fifteen years ago, school gardens in public schools were experiencing a revival around the country. Long perceived as an effective experiential learning strategy for young children, the school garden movement re-emerged in the ‘90s with a focus on healthy food choice and nutrition. The establishment of the U.S.D.A. Farm-to-School office in 2005 and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Go campaign were two indications that school gardens were widely perceived as a promising vehicle for children’s health and nutrition. School gardens made new sense as part of public education’s 21st century health & wellness goals. However, these new school gardens -- largely run by parent volunteers and ‘inspired’ teachers -- faced two significant challenges:

1) To integrate learning time in school gardens, given the shifting academic goals mandated to schools

2) Lack of access to volunteers/resources to support school gardens in low-income, high-need urban neighborhoods.

With our unique approach and our strong school partnerships, CitySprouts is committed to meeting these challenges and developing systems for sustainable garden-based learning that reach all children.

Board Chair Statement


The work of CitySprouts is crucial. Children’s lives are now filtered through screens. The virtual world often takes them “away”: away from the present moment, away from the wonder of their surroundings, away from the development of their curiosity through some of their most primary mechanisms of discovery—touching, smelling, tasting. Today children’s experiential, tactile, and kinesthetic engagement with their world is essentially replaced with a sensory-diluted, highly curated orientation to their environments. In a time when even the titans of Silicon Valley are becoming concerned about how devices are impacting their children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, we need to consider a healthier balance between “the glow” of the screen and “the glow” of the sun.

Enter CitySprouts. For 18 years CitySprouts has delivered high-quality garden-based programs to urban youth to inspire a deep, hands-on connection to the natural environment and the food cycle. Over that time period, CitySprouts has consistently found ways to expand its offerings so more children could reap the many benefits of garden-based learning. CitySprouts’ programs now serve more than 7,000 students and 300 teachers in public elementary and middle schools in Boston and Cambridge. In 2018, realizing the importance of connection to nature for very young children, CitySprouts began offering Boston-based early childhood educators trainings and workshops focused on science for early learners.

Although CitySprouts has become a national leader in the school garden movement for early learners, elementary school and middle school children, it is not content to rest on its laurels. CitySprouts is fully committed to modeling a social justice oriented approach to garden-based learning. The CitySprouts STEM curriculum is delivered through a lens of social and environmental justice. Students learn about the roots of unequal access to healthy foods and the links between food, justice, and community. By partnering with several schools in under-resourced urban neighborhoods and building culturally sensitive curriculum, CitySprouts is demonstrating an interdisciplinary, social justice driven approach to hands-on learning.

As Board President, I’m proud to be involved with an organization that is forging new pathways in the field of education. We can no longer rely on the traditional ways of ‘delivering’ education to our children. Education starts with experience, with getting your hands dirty and tugging at the roots beneath your feet to see where they begin and where they end up. Our children’s learning should involve touching, tasting, and smelling, not just mindlessly swiping. And, education should not be ‘delivered’, it should be gained through first hand discovery and guided by the hands of those mentors planting, watering, and harvesting, alongside our children in their pathways of discovery.

Jeff Perrin, Board President

January 3, 2019

Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.

Cambridge, MA
Boston, MA

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Primary & Elementary Schools
  2. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  3. Environment -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Middle School Youth Program

CitySprouts Middle School Program provides a unique opportunity outside of the school day for young people ages 11-14 to learn first-hand about the natural ecology of their local environment, including their food systems, and to practice science.

In our tuition-free summer program, 100 Cambridge 5th, 6th or 7th graders are selected for a one month internship where they learn the skills to grow food in the school garden and to prepare delicious, healthy meals from the harvest. Youth-designed projects reinforce young people’s school-year academics, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), writing and communication skills. With our garden coordinator staff as lead teachers, CitySprouts summer program also incorporates college students and FoodCorps service members on the leadership team to create a ratio of five students to one adult leader at each of our four sites.

CitySprouts after school program takes place in our partner middle schools throughout the school year. Our after school curriculum reflects the same service learning “arc” incorporated in CitySprouts summer curriculum, with students exploring healthy ecosystems and healthy food systems to discover ways that they can actively and collaboratively make a positive change in their community. Each session culminates with youth-designed, service-learning projects that address real-world issues. Our after school program is taught by our FoodCorps service members.

Budget  $104,000.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

Participants’ knowledge and attitudes about food are measured through a pre- and post-survey given to all participating youth. In 2014, 71 (62%) reported trying at least one new vegetable for the first time; 67% of interns reported a positive opinion change and 51% of interns reported that they had taken a new vegetable home to share with their family. CitySprouts has begun the process of transitioning to include additional evaluation tools, the Common Instrument to measure changes in students’ STEM engagement and the APT-O and APT-Q to evaluate program quality.

Program Long-Term Success 

Our expectation is that the CitySprouts middle school program benefits young people by increasing an appreciation and understanding of the natural world. It gives youth the chance to engage in real world problems in a way that makes science feel relevant to them. It gives them valuable practice in problem-solving, observation, and critical thinking that will support success in school. Lastly, we expect that our garden-based program improves young people’s chances of life-long health through food education and the practice of making healthy food choices. Because our middle school youth program is relatively new, we have not yet accumulated long-term results from our annual evaluation.

Program Success Monitored By  We evaluate our summer program with an established data collection model that we have been using and refining for the last five years. Middle school students participating in CitySprouts after school program complete pre- and post-surveys to document changes in their level of 1) familiarity with and 2) knowledge of healthy food choices and the natural environment that occur as a result of participation in the program. We expect that middle school students in our after school program will demonstrate improved eating habits and increased environmental literacy over the course of CitySprouts program.
Examples of Program Success 

In CitySprouts summer youth program, more than 100 young people hone their skills of stewardship in the school garden and the broader natural environment as part of their focus on local food systems. More than half of these young people come from low-income households. “The best part of CitySprouts was having the responsibility of an organism’s life in our hands and getting to nourish it every day we come to the garden,” declared one of our interns this summer. In their visits to farms and their walks through the neighborhood, CitySprouts youth interns are ready to put their skills and knowledge to work.

School Partnership Program

From September through the school year, CitySprouts provides on-site support to 23 public elementary and middle schools in Cambridge and Boston serving a total student population of over 7,000 children. Our garden educators provide 10 hours of support to teachers each week through the school year: meeting with teachers in grade-level staff meetings as well as individually to help develop and implement garden-based extensions to teachers’ core units in science, English language arts, math and other subjects. 

Budget  510,000
Category  Education, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

First, we anticipate that children will have increased access to the school garden for learning after one year of CitySprouts' programming.

Secondly, as a result of participating in a CitySprouts program, teachers and/or children will report the following outcomes:

•Increase in children’s academic engagement.

•Increase in children’s interest in eating healthier food such as fruits and vegetables.

•Increase in children’s understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

•Increase in children’s practice of key social and emotional skills (such as patience, persistence and compassion).

•Improvement in children’s critical thinking skills.

•Improvement in children’s science practice skills.

•Improvement in teachers’ practice.

Program Long-Term Success 

We anticipate the following long-term outcomes from CitySprouts programming:  

•School gardens become part of the fabric of the schools that lead to a positive change in school climate.

•School gardens serve as an effective means to set children on a path toward life-long healthy food choices.

•Children develop more respect for the environment and nature.

•By supporting and engaging teachers’ use of the school garden for their students, children become more engaged in learning that’s critical to their success in writing, reading, science, social studies and math skills.

Program Success Monitored By 

We are confident that teachers are uniquely suited to report on how the garden impacts their students’ learning and well-being, and in what ways the CitySprouts program supports good teaching. We capture data through weekly records of our garden coordinators’ teacher interactions (Garden Coordinator Logs) and an annual survey of teachers. The combined data from these two sources track children’s access to the learning garden during school time and indicates how the garden and our program influence children’s learning, especially science learning. It also reflects how the garden experience impacts children’s health, specifically children’s interest in fruits and vegetables and how the garden influences a school’s social-emotional learning environment. Lastly, this data points to the impact that the garden and CitySprouts program have on teachers’ instructional practice. Data tables are available upon request.

Examples of Program Success 

CitySprouts program ensures that there are rich places to explore in the schoolyard, from an active compost bin, vegetable beds with plants flowering-fruiting-seeding, to a pollinator garden. Teachers take charge of the lessons and making curriculum connections from students’ experience in the school garden. Examples of children and youth gaining literacy in ecology through the school garden include a 1st grade class at the Cambridgeport School making a year-long study of living and nonliving things in the garden, including observing a worm bin in the classroom over the winter; a 6th graders compare "modern" and "ancient" grains by planting corn and teosinte in the school garden, and making observations from seed to harvest; a class of 4th graders taking their books outside to the garden for daily reading time. Through these kinds of experiences, children are both learning the state standards and building a first-hand relationship with the natural world outside their classrooms.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

CitySprouts is one of several organizations around the country pioneering garden-based education programs in high-need public schools. For the benefit of the schools we serve and for the larger field of garden-based education, we are keenly aware of the importance that CitySprouts and our peer organizations clearly identify outcomes and systems of measurement. With strong commitment from the public schools we partner with and new systems in place to document program use by students and teachers, CitySprouts is actively laying a strong foundation from which to broach on-going program development and impact evaluation.


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Jane Hirschi
CEO Term Start Nov 2000
CEO Email
CEO Experience

Founding Director Jane Hirschi currently oversees the organization’s program development and implementation. In spring 2015, her book on garden-based learning in high-need public schools will be released by Harvard Education Press. Ripe for Change: Garden-based Learning in Schools describes the need for integrating school gardens in urban, high-need schools. It describes five garden-based learning programs from around the country where edible learning gardens address both health and wellness goals and academic goals. Jane was selected as one of six regional Social Innovators by Root Cause Social Innovation Forum in 2008 for improving food security and nutrition for children and families.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Robyn Burns Program Director Program Director Robyn Burns has more than a decade of experience in the realm of urban food systems, food justice, community engagement, and youth empowerment, having worked previously with The Food Project in Boston and Grow Pittsburgh. She has a Master of Science in Sustainable Systems, holds a certificate from The Institute for Nonprofit Management & Leadership, and is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program.


Award Awarding Organization Year
Social Innovator: Improving Children & Families Health and Nutirtion Social innovation Forum 2008
Massachusetts Certificate of Excellence in Environmental Education Commonwealth of Massachusetts 2007
Cambridge First Day Award City of Cambridge, MIT 2003


Affiliation Year
-- 2011
Massachusetts Nonprofit Network --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


CitySprouts’ mission is deeply tied to our collaboration with the public schools we serve. Our ability to increase teachers’ capacity to integrate garden-based learning into their teaching practice, school culture and district curricula depends on active and engaged partnership between the schools and the organization. Our success reflects over a decade of effective collaboration with over twenty schools in two urban school districts. We also work closely with other community entities such as the Middle School Network (MSN) and Cambridge Youth Programs (CYP) in Cambridge and BoSTEM in Boston. At a national level, CitySprouts is a charter member of FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps initiative that places service members at host sites in high-need communities throughout the country to improve children’s education about and access to healthy, locally grown food. Two Commonwealth Corps service members serve each year in the CitySprouts program.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 12
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 200
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 70%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 6
Hispanic/Latino: 3
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 1
Other (if specified): Iranian-American
Gender Female: 9
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? No
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan Yes
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Exempt

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Bi-Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Dr. Jeffrey Perrin
Board Chair Company Affiliation Lesley University
Board Chair Term June 2016 - June 2019
Board Co-Chair Perrin
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Darren Baird Goulston & Storrs Voting
Meghan Burque Deloitte & Touche Voting
Tamirirashe Gambiza Cohn Reznick Voting
Angel Harris Madison Park Development Corporation Voting
Terrence Hayes Siena Construction Voting
Jane Hirschi CitySprouts Inc NonVoting
Bill Kane BioMed Realty Voting
Sean Kelly Cambridge Trust Co Voting
Daniel Langenthal Brandeis University Voting
Joshua Leclair KPMG LLP Voting
Kathy Loftus Whole Foods Market Voting
Michelle Lower Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. Voting
Maureen McCaffrey MIT Investment Management Company Voting
Emily Mueller De Celis Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Voting
Denise Mytko MIT, Office of Engineering Voting
Andrea Paciello Massachusetts General Hospital Voting
Jon Penterman CRISPR Therapeutics Voting
Jeffrey Perrin Lesley University Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Patricia Beggy Retired NonVoting
Dr. Lisa Dobberteen Cambridge Public Health Department NonVoting
Holly Fowler Northbound Ventures LLC NonVoting
Tom Hammill Redgate Real Estate NonVoting
Brian Kelley Cambridge Trust Co NonVoting
Ryan Kim Castle Island Partners LLC NonVoting
MaryAnn MacDonald Cambridge Public Schools --
Victoria Maguire MassDevelopment --
Brendan McCarthy Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. NonVoting
Jeannie Parkus Cambridge Public Schools --
Steve Postal Commonwealth Restaurant --
Carl Spector City of Boston NonVoting
Henry Vandermark Solar Wave --
Peter Welsh Peter Welsh Strategic Consulting Services --
Sara Zrike Boston Public Schools NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 16
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 9
Male: 9
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • --
  • --
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance
  • Governance and Nominating
  • Program / Program Planning

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Revenue $761,689 $580,808 $641,368
Total Expenses $729,187 $583,450 $536,231

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $213,000 $155,000 $148,561
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- $15,000
    Local -- -- $133,561
    Unspecified $213,000 $155,000 --
Individual Contributions $526,329 $405,724 $483,571
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- $5
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $22,360 $20,084 $9,231
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Program Expense $557,712 $437,376 $391,114
Administration Expense $76,240 $71,080 $42,774
Fundraising Expense $95,235 $74,994 $102,343
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.04 1.00 1.20
Program Expense/Total Expenses 76% 75% 73%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 13% 13% 16%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Assets $334,219 $299,621 $302,487
Current Assets $281,973 $272,375 $300,241
Long-Term Liabilities -- $0 $0
Current Liabilities $17,935 $15,839 $16,063
Total Net Assets $316,284 $283,782 $286,424

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 2.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 15.72 17.20 18.69

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's audited financials. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

CitySprouts’ vision is that learning gardens in public schools become a reliable point of access for children’s hands-on learning in core academic subjects, in health and food systems, and in building a community of environmentally literate citizenry. We are committed to building on our successful partnerships with public school communities to extend food, health and learning initiatives for children in out of school time as well as during the school day.

Our objectives in the next three to five years are to: 1) reach a higher percentage of youth and children in need; 2) expand the community of teachers practicing garden-based teaching (and therefore the number of children and youth with access to the school learning garden); and 3) develop a model for a successful, district-wide garden-based learning program connected to the emerging national network of school garden programs.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Our strategy to make garden-based learning available to all children in a sustainable way is through the institution of public education, and more specifically through classroom teachers. We scaffold garden-based learning in schools by supporting teachers through planning, assisting in the garden, and extending the garden experience back in the classroom; developing and maintaining school gardens as learning environments, including edible education. We encourage teachers’ continued training and investment in garden-based learning by facilitating a community of practice for teachers’ garden-based practice.

CitySprouts also creates garden-based learning opportunities for children and youth in out-of-school time. We do this formally, through our summer and after school program specifically for middle school youth (who historically have fewer in-school opportunities in the learning garden). CitySprouts also employs this strategy in more informal ways through work day events for families in the school garden; supporting school garden harvest celebrations in the neighborhood; and making the school garden accessible to other community groups in the school or neighborhood.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

CitySprouts’ method for systematically supporting both experiential learning and core academic standards has the potential for deep impact as new education standards are implemented in Massachusetts. Boston kindergarten teachers, for example, utilize their CitySprouts learning gardens in a new district-wide kindergarten curriculum, Focus on K2. In our annual survey, teachers noted the value of the school garden for special populations, especially English Language Learners and special education students for whom sensory and highly visual learning is especially important.

Our approach is resourceful and impactful, building on the expertise of teachers and leveraging the existing infrastructure of the schoolyard. Our partnerships in Boston, for instance, incorporate whenever possible the outdoor classrooms designed by Boston Schoolyard Initiative (BSI). Cambridge Public Schools have begun to include learning gardens in their new facilities, with CitySprouts’ guidance in an advisory capacity.

CitySprouts has developed valuable partnerships over the past fifteen years that allow us to maximize service with minimal resources. Our success at partnering with public schools is the most notable example. Our five year partnership with FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps initiative, is another. CitySprouts is committed to building strong partnerships with other community organizations as well. 

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

CitySprouts tracks four metrics to measure the success of our programs:

§ 1. The number of teachers who use of the garden for instruction

§ 2. Changes in children’s increased knowledge and awareness of vegetables and fruits

§ 3. Changes in children’s academic engagement

§ 4. Changes in children’s environmental awareness

A strong body of research bears out the effectiveness of school gardens in improving science test scores (American Institutes for Research, 2005; G. Lieberman and L. Hoody, 1998), particularly for English language learners, a growing demographic in public schools nationally.

CitySprouts is not only invested in meeting the academic challenges facing schools; our program also furthers the health and wellness initiatives so critical to students’ success. Opportunities to make healthy food choices, a climate of healthy eating, and building a relationship with good food starting from an early age are equally important factors in life-long health (New York Times, April 17, 2012).

Lastly, Citizens of the 21st century face formidable environmental challenges. In order to understand the problems they will face, children must develop an early affinity with the natural world (R. Louv, 2005). Learning gardens in schools give urban children sustained opportunities to experience nature starting in the earliest grades, teaching life-long practices for environmental stewardship.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Children are growing up in a world made increasingly precarious by environmental and social changes. These pressures affect how they learn in school, the quality of food they eat and the places where they play. It is an especially acute situation for low-income children. Yet even as the need increases, a confluence of opportunities is emerging that have the potential to address these issues in deeper, more comprehensive ways than ever before. We are confident that CitySprouts has valuable contributions to make to this work nationally as well as in our communities.

In an outside evaluation of CitySprouts program conducted in 2012 (CitySprouts and Cambridge Public Schools Science-in-the-Garden, Schiavo, 2012), key findings revealed that teachers viewed the gardens as providing a learning experience which helped students understand science concepts more deeply and fully, with specific reference to students with special education plans and English language learners. Further, interview respondents were uniform in their belief that students were more engaged in learning when taught in garden-based lessons, compared to lessons taught solely in the classroom. Because our learning gardens are also edible gardens, children have many opportunities to learn first-hand about where food comes from and encouragement to try new foods. Our school partners appreciate the bridge CitySprouts creates between academic and health education. One Cambridge principal said, “It is so critical for children to understand where their food comes from. Their natural curiosity is tapped when they visit the garden. Our CitySprouts garden coordinator has been instrumental in making the experience of learning about food and gardens really come alive for students. There is a way in which having a schoolyard garden and a garden coordinator makes the school come together and feel like home.

In preparation for replication to high need schools in Boston, CitySprouts board of directors and staff have begun to lay the necessary groundwork to ensure success. This past year, CitySprouts board initiated a strategic planning project to strengthen the organization’s capacity. As part of that process, we established a standing program evaluation board committee to support the organization’s on-going evaluation work. After reviewing and clarifying our program outcomes and systems for data collection this past year, strategic planning will continue in the coming year as we align our revised evaluation system with the organization’s finance model to support the organization’s growth and expanded program.