Pittsburgh, Pa. April 4, 2024 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has partnered with PNC Grow Up Great since 2012 to add natural outdoor play and learning spaces at 12 Pittsburgh Public Schools’ early childhood centers. The PNC Foundation today pledged financial support for more PNC Grow Up Great initiatives during a special celebration to commemorate the program’s 20th anniversary.

Thanks to the longstanding support from PNC Grow Up Great, the Conservancy has created several outdoor play and learning spaces, as a part of our school grounds greening program, that provide safe places for children to play and encourage motor skill development, nurture creativity and stimulate curiosity. These outdoor learning and play spaces allow children to interact with their natural surroundings instead of playing on grass, concrete parking lots or near overgrown weeds.

Conservancy staff has also incorporated a variety of playful and educational elements into greening schoolyards, such as mosaic birds and flowers, climbing rocks and boulders, farmer market stands, stationary musical instruments, birdhouses and countless trees and sensory perennial plantings. These elements further foster an introduction, exploration and imagination of nature.

Over the past five years, the Conservancy has worked closely with Pittsburgh Public Schools’ faculty and staff to develop school-based, site-specific and grade-appropriate education materials to support early childhood curricula and guidelines for maintaining their spaces.

“The Conservancy is grateful for the $725,000 in support from PNC Grow Up Great, which has greatly helped expand our school ground greening efforts to early childhood centers, providing young children with fun and educational activities in natural surroundings,” says Julie Holmes, the Conservancy’s senior director of development. Current PNC Grow Up Great funding will provide additional support for another outdoor classroom and green play area, and assist Conservancy staff in evaluating and improving the infrastructure at the 12 previously installed sites.

The Conservancy congratulates the PNC Foundation for its 20-year commitment to championing young learners from all walks of life and helping to advance the next generation of nature lovers and conservationists in our region. Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great and the additional $10.2 million in grants to mark the program’s special anniversary.




About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped establish 11 state parks, conserved more than 285,000 acres of natural lands, protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, and assessed thousands of wildlife species and their habitats. The Conservancy owns and operates Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 130 community gardens and other green spaces and thousands of trees that are planted with the help of more than 7,000 volunteers. The work of the Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.