Cool Schools

Project Summary and Mission:

Dallas Texas is warming at a faster rate than any other large city in the United States* Not only is Dallas hot, but so are Dallas ISD elementary school campuses. Presently, Dallas ISD elementary schools have an average of 7% tree canopy—making for hotter play and learning areas resulting in children spending less time outside. To beat the heat and ensure that “no child is left inside,” Texas Trees Foundation’s Cool Schools program, launched in 2016, strives to plant 80-100 trees at every Dallas ISD elementary school to increase the tree canopy to at least 20%, creating cooler, greener, and healthier school campuses. 

Planting Day at Clinton P. Russell

The University of Champaign Urbana of Illinois research shows that kids who spend more time outside end up paying more attention inside. Trees and nature lower aggression and symptoms of ADHD, and are better able to concentrate, complete tasks and follow directions. 

Trees cool the surfaces of the surrounding environment through shading and offer additional ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, air pollution removal, energy savings, and stormwater savings. The benefits of greening strategies, such as tree planting can be as high as 15°F of cooling in some areas on hot summer days.* A study in California found that for every $1 spent in California cities on tree planting and maintenance, there were $5.82 in benefits.** 

The Cool Schools program provides outdoor learning areas on school campuses for a hands-on environmental learning experience to instill a good land ethic and to create a healthy environment. 

Once schools are selected and fully funded, each school is provided: 

  • Project coordination 
  • Green Team (teacher committee) facilitation
  • Landscape design created by teachers, students, and parents
  • Landscape installation, equipment, and technical assistance
  • Landscape amenities (benches, boulders, etc.)
  • Training and resources for teachers (STEM-based TEKS certified curriculum developed by Texas Trees and Interactive educational opportunities and activities)
  • Trees and shrubs (1-year maintenance included)
  • Tree Planting Volunteer Day and Celebration Day

Partners involved include:

Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, TXU Energy, and Alliance Data Systems

Project Impact:

1000+ students, staff, and local community members are positively impacted by the implementation of each Cool School. In 2016, Texas Trees completed two pilot projects (Felix Botello Elementary and Onesimo Hernandez Elementary). 176 trees were planted resulting in $227,290 in ecosystem services over 40 years, that include: carbon sequestration, air pollution removal, energy savings, and stormwater savings (calculated using iTree Eco). During the 2017/18 cycle, five more Cool Schools in Dallas ISD were funded and implemented. Texas Trees is seeking funding for other schools in Dallas ISD with the goal of all 151 Dallas ISD elementary schools becoming Cool Schools.

  • Cooler campuses ~15°F cooler
  • Health, ecosystem, and economic benefits: ~1$ = $5.82
  • 1000+ people/school positively impacted
  • ~40 volunteers/school: valued at ~$5000/school

Texan by Nature’s Vision:

Texan by Nature is working with the Texas Trees Foundation to garner support and partners to secure funding for the Cool Schools program for years to come. This program is an excellent model and has the potential to be replicated across Texas.

Project Needs:

  • Funding: Corporate sponsorship for 2018/19 Cool Schools in addition to commitment for future years — opportunities start at 35K
  • Partners: Connections to relevant partners
  • Support: Marketing and PR; program expansion

Contact Taylor Keys at or at 512-284-7482 if you would like to sponsor a Cool School project, can provide resources and/or connections, or would like to learn more.

Landscape design for Dan D. Rogers Elementary School highlighting the STEM-based TEKS curriculum throughout the outdoor learning area.


 * Texas Trees Foundation’s Dallas 2017 Urban Heat Island Management Study
 ** U.S. Forest Service and University of California, Davis


Title Link
Cool Schools Project Overview 2018 CW Download
Cool Schools Partnership Opportunities Download
Texas Trees Foundation Brochure Download

Tangible Results



There are 151 DISD elementary schools and each completed Cool School impacts ~1000+ elementary students and staff. Schools completed during 2017/18 also double as community parks, providing recreational park space for surrounding neighborhoods.



  • ~$227,290 in environmental services over 50 years (stormwater runoff savings, air quality-absorbing pollutants, carbon sequestration, and energy savings from shading) was calculated for the completion of the two pilot schools. This can be extrapolated to ~$17M in environmental services over 50 years if all 151 Dallas ISD elementary Cool School campuses are implemented.
  •  $5.82 in public benefit per dollar spent.

Natural Resources

~12,080 trees

  • Around 80 trees per school are planted per Cool School campus. If all 151 Dallas ISD Elementary Cool School campuses are implemented, ~12,080 trees will be planted.

Learn more about this project

Visit the project website  |  Follow on Twitter  |  Visit on Facebook  |  Follow on Instagram

Conservation Wrangler Projects


Constructed Wetlands

Dallas/Forth Worth and Surrounding Area, Texas


Cool Schools

Dallas, Texas


El Carmen Land & Conservation Co.

Marathon, Texas


Dark Skies Initiative

McDonald Observatory, TX


Lower Rio Grande Valley Learning Landscapes Collaborative

Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas


Friends of Lake Livingston

Livingston, Texas


Texas State Bison Herd

Conroe, Texas


Bracken Bat Cave

San Antonio, Texas