James Lick Middle School

(JLMS) is one of the CAN! flagship school sites.

James Lick Middle School (JLMS) is one of the CAN! flagship school sites. Our partnership with the James Lick community began in 2015 with the CAN! Youth Ecological Stewardship program, funded by the SFPUC.


Curriculum and environmental programming at James Lick was different than our other sites.  Previously CAN! staff had worked almost exclusively with Science Department teachers.  JLMS Social Studies team was our primary partner.   JLMS Social Studies Department’s longstanding  Environmental Justice curriculum was in direct dialogue with our ecological curriculum.

All 8th graders at JLMS participate in a tour of the Cesar Chavez home in Bakersfield, learning about farm worker movements here in California, the history of Dolores Huerta, Larry Itliong, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers movement.  CAN! deepened our Environmental Justice curriculum in partnership with the school teachers, including education about organics, pesticides and other petroleum-based chemicals in agriculture, farmworker health and California watersheds in the 6th-8th-grade lessons.  This intersectionality of the CAN! the curriculum has since been expanded to our other partner sites.

About the project

Located in Noe Valley, the school site is an entire city block.  When CAN! began working with the school community, the entire schoolyard was covered in asphalt and cement.  We knew that if we were to continue working with the school site we’d have to raise funds to remove pavement and build out educational gardens in the yard.

Spearheading fundraising for the school beginning in 2015 with a grant ($43,000) from the SF Carbon Fund, for pavement removal and tree planting at James Lick.  But there was a problem.  One of the layers of the asphalt at the school contained asbestos and we quickly realized that our funding wasn’t going to be nearly enough.


We worked hard to find more resources for the school’s greening.  Later in the summer of 2016, the funding more than doubled with the generosity of then, District 8 Supervisor, Scott Weiner. Supervisor Weiner’s generous donation ($50,000) to the District permitted CAN! to continue planning, fundraising and project coordination of the site.  Now a California State Senator, Scott Weiner, continues to support progressive environmental and social progress at the State level.  Indeed, Senator Weiner has supported CAN! since 2013 with his office’s investment in greening at the Thomas Edison Charter Academy K-8 School also located in Noe Valley.

But our plans for greening kept growing and we continued to seek funding for site development, which came in the form of a Community Challenge Grant ($100,000) in the fall of 2016.  This funding more than doubled both of the previous investments and we passed $200,000 in funds for site greening.  This generosity, combined with thousands of dollars of investment from neighbors, CAN! fundraisers and other grant support (including an SFPA Action Grant of $5,000 for design services) brought us to where we are today.

And, after years of community building, fundraising and developing multi-agency partnerships, we were ecstatic when, in the summer of 2017, 3,126 square feet of pavement was successfully removed in the school’s upper yard.

The greening of the James Lick Middle School wasn’t easy but was a huge success for all of our investors, neighbors, teachers, administrators and especially students.

Present Day

To date, CAN! successfully raised about $240,000 to develop outdoor educational gardens in the JLMS upper yard.  Check out the plans here for the CAN!-JLMS Organic Vegetable Garden which include over 300 ft2 of raised wooden vegetable beds, a 440 ft2 Outdoor Kitchen Pavilion, benches, a dry creek bed a pollinator garden, a Black Lives Matter garden and a cloud forest garden.  The other garden in the upper yard is the Dinosaur Garden, filled with ancient trees and plants, which have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.

With the upper yard greening underway, and our fundraising efforts have begun for the lower yard.  Leading the development of the lower yard, District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy has provided the first installment of funding of $25,000.  This donation is significant, and we look forward to working with the City, neighbors and local businesses to raise an additional $150,000 for development of the JLMS lower yard where we plan to remove an additional 2,600 ft2 of pavement building out a Performance Stage, a Peace Garden, a Mindfulness Garden and various other features.  To learn more about this project, email us.

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