Washington High and Maryland Elementary Tree Plantings

Project Profile

Project Location

Phoenix, AZ

Project Lead

Arizona Sustainability Alliance


Bank of America



Arizona Sustainability Alliance, in partnership with American Forests and with the support of Bank of America, planted 56 trees at Maryland Elementary School and Washington High School in Phoenix, AZ on December 3, 2022. Trees were planted around the schools’ walking paths, sports fields, and play areas to encourage recreation, provide shade and cooling for students, and improve community health and wellbeing.

The project focused on two Title 1 schools in North Central Phoenix, zip codes 85015 and 85021. Predominantly neighborhoods of color, these two zip codes have a tree canopy of around 7% – about half the city-wide average of 12.4%. Over a fifth of residents live below the poverty line and more than a quarter are uninsured. Children are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness, and with Phoenix among the fastest warming cities in America, this project represents one step towards improved cooling and greater tree equity for students and the community.

Large canopy trees were planted strategically to create shade for students at popular gathering places, including playing fields, walking paths, and basketball and tetherball courts. Families and community members will be able to enjoy spectating at games under the shade of the planted trees.  As students walk on the newly tree-lined pathways, they will be provided a brief nature-laden respite between classes, promoting attention restoration.

To foster a sense of ownership and create learning opportunities, AZSA engaged students, staff, and community members, including the Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus Pine chapter, to join the volunteer planting event. Long-term, AZSA will also involve students in their 5-year plan to monitor the growth and health of trees, ensuring the community reaps the promised benefits of these trees to promote active recreation, play, and greater well-being.

Check out a snapshot of the project: Impact Report Summary

Every tree planting project demonstrates impacts that create a more just and sustainable future.

Human Health

Air Quality - 11
Urban Heat - 12
Active Living - 6
Wellness & Mental Health - 9
Social Health - 6

Social Equity

Inequity Context - 12
Site Selection - 5
Community Engagement in Design - 5
Community Participation in Implementation - 9
Economic Equity - 7


Site Prep & Implementation - 19
Climate Action - 13
Water Quality & Quantity - 5
Habitat, Food & Wood Production - 2
Bioremediation - 0

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs are a global call for action. These goals have the power to build a better future for everyone. Investment in this impact project drives action towards the following goals.

Good Health and Well Being

Phoenix, AZ is the second fastest warming city in the United States. Trees planted for this project were specifically selected to create large shade canopies, providing thermal refuge for students, staff, and families in and around school playing fields and walking paths.

Clean Water and Sanitation

Tree species were selected to be drought resistant and desert adapted, in accordance with the City of Phoenix Tree and Shade Master Plan.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Urban tree planting projects can create economic opportunities for communities. AZSA is working with the school staff to provide environmental education lessons and professional development to teachers at both schools. AZSA has also offered to come in and speak to the students in classes about the benefits of trees.

Reduce Inequalities

Zip codes 85015 and 85021 in North Central Phoenix continue to feel the impact of discriminatory policies, environmental racism, and underinvestment. Trees were planted at two Title 1 schools in the community in partnership with school administration and community organizations to increase equitable distribution of tree canopy.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Trees provide ecosystem services that help make cities more sustainable and livable. The trees planted will filter air by absorbing harmful air pollutants and provide a natural buffer to the heavily trafficked roads bordering each of the schools.

Responsible Production and Consumption

Trees were strategically planted on the south- and west-facing side of buildings to provide optimum shade and wind protection for reduced energy use. Planting tools and supplies and planting day materials were also locally sourced and reused to reduce the footprint of purchasing decisions.

Climate Action

Trees and forests in and around cities contribute to climate-change mitigation directly by sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These 56 project trees will store a projected 40.9 tons of CO2 if maintained for 25 years. Trees planted will also improve air quality, promote stormwater capture, and reduce heating and cooling costs.

Life on Land

Four different tree species were planted at the two schools. This will increase the variety and availability of different kinds of habitat and food sources for insects (particularly pollinators), birds, and other urban wildlife.

Partnerships for Goals

AZSA partnered with American Forests on the project, and worked with school administration and staff, students, and community groups to plant trees and select planting sites and tree species to best fit students’ needs.

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