News | April 27, 2023
Green Our Planet Grows its School Hydroponics Garden Program through the Sands Cares Accelerator
Las Vegas-based Green Our Planet is the latest graduate of the Sands Cares Accelerator, a global initiative aimed at advancing nonprofits to deliver greater community impact. Coming out of the three-year journey, Green Our Planet is emerging with sustainable growth in its three Sands Cares Accelerator focus areas: growing its school hydroponics garden program, launching the HydroHealth corporate hydroponics garden program and improving its marketing capability.
Green Our Planet’s hydroponics program blossomed from 20 schools in Nevada to 200 schools in 33 states over the past three years, in part due to its work in the Sands Cares Accelerator. The nonprofit’s other two focus areas of strengthening marketing and launching the corporate hydroponics garden program also contributed to this growth. As part of the new corporate program, every hydroponics garden purchased by a company funds a school hydroponics garden.
“We are now the largest science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) school garden and hydroponics program in the United States,” Ciara Byrne, founder and co-CEO of Green Our Planet, said. “We have been able to mature our organization and infrastructure to meet this growing demand in large part due to the financial support, guidance and mentoring we received through Sands Cares Accelerator.”
The decision to focus on hydroponics gardening over traditional school gardens came from teacher feedback.
“We found the hydroponics option was far more desirable for teachers because the gardens can grow year-round, rather than just in the spring and summer months when many schools have breaks,” Byrne said. “Along with the accompanying curriculum we provide, our school hydroponics gardens are a great addition to teachers’ classroom lessons. It took significant work accelerate this program, but with the resources and support we received from the Sands Cares Accelerator, we were able to successfully scale this unique offering to give teachers what they asked for.”
In addition to growing its school hydroponics garden program, the nonprofit identified two other goals for the Sands Cares Accelerator: building its marketing function and launching the HydroHealth corporate hydroponics garden program, which Green Our Planet expects to expand to 10 companies this year.
“We found there are many companies that want to offer their employees healthy, flourishing garden spaces at their sites, and with Sands’ mentoring, we’ve been able to overcome the challenges we experienced on this effort during the pandemic to expand this offering,” Byrne said.
She cites the counsel Green Our Planet received along with the financial investment from Sands as being critical to achieving success on the organization’s identified program goals.
“The conversations and mentoring we had with Sands Team Members were incredible learning experiences for us,” Byrne said. “From financial management to product development to marketing and sales, Sands gave us access to their internal thought leaders and their broad depth of expertise.”
Inspired by Sands’ founder Sheldon G. Adelson, the Sands Cares Accelerator marries his legacies of creating successful businesses and giving back to communities through meaningful philanthropic involvement. During the three-year membership, nonprofits focus on building their capacity in a strategic area or enhancing a program offering to better serve the community. Sands serves as a catalyst and mentor for helping organizations achieve their goals.
“Sands and the Sands Cares Accelerator provided valuable partnership and inspiration during a crucial stage in our organization’s lifecycle,” Byrne said. “Because of the resources we received in this program, Green Our Planet is well positioned for long-term, sustainable growth.”
To learn more about Sands Cares Accelerator, please visit https://www.sands.com/responsibility/communities/sands-cares-accelerator/