“Juvenile Hall Garden Project: Environmental Justice and Eco-Literacy”, Mercurio’s innovative winning project, is designed to create an educational and therapeutic gardening program to uplift her students holistically. More than 3,000 students at Woodside Learning Center, who have experienced community and family violence and trauma, go in and out of juvenile hall every year where they have been charged with the most serious criminal offenses. The project, with the help of the ING grant funds, will combine an environmental justice curriculum and a hands-on learning component, allowing them the opportunity to take class outside for the first time. Mercurio believes that by caring for living things, students will learn alternatives to violence and ultimately mature emotionally towards a path of empathy and responsibility. With a high recidivism rate in the state of California, many see rehabilitation as one of the only ways to combat recidivism. Students will also learn critical life skills and vocational skills that will allow them to make a difference in both their own lives and communities. Mercurio, who lives in San Francisco, believes her program will equip the students formerly deemed unfit for society with leadership skills and a respect for living things that will inevitably make a change in a positive way.