El Colegio – El Patio
Location: 4137 Bloomington Avenue South, Minneapolis
Nominated by: El Colegio Charter School
2013 Community Impact Award Winner
Located in the Bancroft neighborhood, El Colegio, the only high school in the neighborhood, is situated on 1.6 acres with the project, El Patio, located on the northern half. Student body makeup is 85% Latino, 5% African American, 5% Native American, and 5% Caucasian, many of whom are English language learners. Over 90% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. Historical photographs show extensive filling with both residential and commercial activity on the site. The school opened in 1999 with Augsburg College’s sponsorship. Within a year the necessary improvements were made to the existing grounds and building to open the school, though funding constraints left the northern half as an unused weed and pavement covered area with a crumbling loading dock.
In 2003, rain gardens were created to deal with storm water runoff. Impacted soil was discovered onsite at depths of up to 15 feet, likely fill from the site’s historical developments. The site was listed on the Petroleum Brownfields Program database. The school began to actively search for cleanup funding from 2003-10 to ensure student safety. Contaminants consisted of elevated diesel range organics (DRO), metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and arsenic. The need for a safe and high quality athletic space in the neighborhood as well as an outdoor learning space for the students was apparent. The school overcame many funding barriers as well as environmental conditions, such as storm water management requirements. Finally, the construction on the site began in 2010.
Construction finished in 2012. El Patio includes a fenced outdoor soccer field, an outdoor classroom, a parking lot, and a basketball court. It also includes features useful to the surrounding community, such as benches, bike racks, drinking water fountain, a community garden with unrestricted access, and expanded storm water management systems to protect the surrounding areas from flooding. The site is used by 16 teachers and staff, 80 high school students, and 100 middle school and high schoolers utilizing the space during after school and summer programs.
Community members and students played a large role in the design and planning of the project. El Colegio altered class curriculum to use the project as a teaching opportunity, using math classes to help scale the design of the field to mirror official standards. Additionally, a student group was formed to research and document the project through photographs, interviews, and videos.
Student video: http://www.minnehahacreek.org/project/el-colegio-charter-school
- $ 188,500 Hennepin Youth Sports Grand
- $ 345,023 Hennepin County Environmental Response Fund
- $ 76,000 ECCS Building Company (Owner)
- $ 24,935 Brownfields Gap Financing Program
- $124,362 Minnehaha Watershed District
- El Colegio Charter School
- Hennepin County
- Commissioners Peter McLaughlin & Mark Stenglein
- Minnehaha Creek Watershed District
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- Groundworks Minneapolis
- Minnesota Brownfiels
- Augsburg College
- City of Minneapolis
- Minneapolis City Council
- Council member Elizabeth Glidden
- Barr Engineering
- Cobalt Contracting
- Pellinen Professional Services
- Roark Kramer Kosowski