Improving our communities

We set out to GroMoreGood, everywhere, by supporting the creation of gardens and greenspaces that transform neighborhoods, get kids outdoors and bring people together. We also support social justice, protect environmental resources and develop programs that help kids understand and meet their full potential to become the leaders of tomorrow

The challenges of 2020 were unprecedented for all Americans as well as for our company. The COVID-19 pandemic and rising calls for social justice presented us with new opportunities to respond with support for our own associates and for the communities where we live and operate. We adapted our grant making to ensure community programs could continue to meet urgent needs, empowered associates to give back in safe and creative ways and established a fourth philanthropic pillar at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation to address social justice. One thing that didn’t change in 2020, however, was our commitment to our purpose—to GroMoreGood everywhere.

Foundation commitments

We focus our philanthropic efforts on challenges where we can have the most impact as a company. Since founding The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation four years ago, we have focused those efforts on improving and protecting the environment, expanding community access to gardens and greenspaces and empowering youth, especially in underserved communities. In 2020, we expanded these efforts to include social justice.

These commitments complement our ongoing ESG strategy in the areas of environmental and water quality issues, diversity and inclusion and local community engagement.

The Hawthorne Social Justice Fund

Our Hawthorne Gardening company subsidiary is North America’s largest distributor of indoor growing and hydroponic products, serving growers of all sizes. In the U.S., many of these growers cultivate cannabis in compliance with state law. As reform advances, states are struggling to confront the complex legacy of racial, social and economic inequality tied to cannabis. Standing behind our purpose to GroMoreGood, we are committed to fighting for the reforms needed to create a more just and equitable industry—one that addresses past injustices and one where all people in the U.S. have the opportunity to join and flourish.

One way we are bringing this commitment to life is through The Hawthorne Social Justice Fund at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation. This Fund supports organizations committed to addressing long-standing social injustice through advocacy for criminal justice reforms, assistance in reentry for people with nonviolent, low-level cannabis convictions and increasing the diversity of representation in the legal cannabis industry. Over the next several years, we will invest more than two million dollars in grants to nonprofit organizations working to advance these goals. As we develop this platform, we are benefiting from the expert advice of leaders in the minority cannabis community who are helping us set a strong framework for impact at the national and local community level.

Environmental improvement

In keeping with our commitment to care for the planet, we’ve put substantial processes in place to foster an internal dialogue regarding environmental stewardship. This commitment has resulted in multiple actions and investments over the years, including changes in some of our product formulations, the introduction of more water-efficient products and increased consumer education on safe and appropriate use of our products. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation has partnered with experts and environmental groups across the U.S. to preserve Americans’ access to a safe, abundant supply of water and protect pollinators. Our goal is to reach 145 million Americans annually through environmental partnerships by 2025.

Safe and accessible water

Nutrient pollution, caused by excess amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen in freshwater, is one of the most critical threats to water quality today. Excess nutrients in water contribute to algal blooms that kill aquatic life, impair drinking water and can impact human health. That’s why our company and foundation formed a national network of environmental organizations to tackle this issue head-on. With a combined reach of millions of Americans, these organizations are at the forefront of change by driving scientific innovation, protecting vital waterways and advocating for all Americans’ right to safe and accessible water. 

In 2020, network members served nearly 700,000 people through their water programs and protected or restored more than 17 million square feet of habitat through shoreline/wetland restoration and green infrastructure projects.

Pollinator protection

Another focus area of our foundation is protecting pollinators, like bees and butterflies, and the habitats they need to thrive. We dedicate grant funding and pollinator education resources to support pollinator gardens across North America.

In 2017, we began partnering with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to launch the Parks for Pollinators Program. The program establishes pollinator habitats in local parks and connects people to resources to better understand pollinators and how to protect them. In 2020, this program expanded to include a fourth city, Dallas, with funding and support to grow its pollinator spaces. In addition, previously revitalized pollinator habitat in Columbus, Ohio, served as a springboard for the city’s recreation and parks department to harvest seeds and establish two new habitats in other parks.

BioBlitz activities

In 2019, we partnered with the NRPA to launch the first Parks for Pollinators Bioblitz, a nationwide campaign to engage ordinary people in observing and documenting the animal or plant species in a certain area. This adds to the scientific knowledge of a place and helps scientists and land managers plan for the future.

Due to COVID-19, we hosted bioblitzes in September instead of June last year and encouraged communities to take part with social distancing in mind. Participants used the iNaturalist mobile app to learn about pollinators right in the palm of their hand. Users took photos of the biodiversity they came across in the park—animals, plants, insects, etc.—and automatically uploaded their photos to an international database for scientific research.

In 2020, our partnership with NRPA achieved the following results:

  • Increased public awareness of pollinators, with a total of 159 million online impressions of Parks for Pollinators messages.
  • Increased participation in the bioblitz campaign:
    • 57 organizations in 24 states participating, up from 43 agencies in 2019
    •  20,000 observations, an increase from 5,000 observations the previous year
    • 2,300 citizen scientists participated, an increase from 580 the previous year
  • Pollinator habitat expansion and education in Columbus, Ohio, and similar expansion in Dallas, Texas.

Community enhancement

Now more than ever, children and families across the country need the positive experiences that gardening provides. Gardening helps children understand where their food comes from, engages them in hands-on learning about the natural world and provides therapeutic and physical activity benefits. That’s why we’ve been committed to connecting more young people with the benefits of gardens and greenspaces for decades.

In 2011, we set out to establish 1,000 community gardens and greenspaces all across North America through the GRO1000 program. By 2018, through an array of partnerships with community-based and national organizations, we achieved that goal. We celebrated this shared accomplishment in 2018 with a capstone project at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens—The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden.

Our 10 Million Kids Commitment

We aim to connect 10 million young people with the benefits of gardens and greenspaces by the end of 2023. We know we can’t do this alone; a range of partnerships and programs bring this commitment to life. In 2020, our efforts resulted in:

Hometown Grants

While our workforce and operations stretch across North America, we consider the Central Ohio region to be our home. We support community gardens and public greenspaces in our own backyard through partnerships throughout the region. Last year, we provided cash grants and product donations to 103 local garden and greenspace projects reaching thousands of people with fresh food and opportunities to connect with the natural world and their neighbors.

Hydroponic education in schools

Many schools are establishing indoor and hydroponic gardens to complement their traditional outdoor garden programs. This allows schools in colder climates to grow plants in the winter months and integrate gardening into year-round learning. It is also an opportunity for students to learn about the growing field of hydroponics careers, many for the first time. In 2020, we continued our two partnerships supporting hydroponic education in schools.

National Farm to School Network

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and Hawthorne Gardening company worked with The National Farm to School Network to launch a pilot project to integrate indoor growing systems into 15 elementary schools across the country during the 2019-2020 school year. The project provides teachers with hydroponic growing devices, next-gen science standard-aligned hydroponic curriculum and support from gardening experts. It aims to spark a passion for gardening and increase hands-on science experiences for students who otherwise might not have had the opportunity. In 2020, we renewed and expanded this partnership to reach younger grade students and provide these resources to schools in new geographic areas over the next two years.

No Kid Hungry

As part of our ongoing partnership to provide 1.5 million healthy meals to schoolchildren in need across the U.S. each year, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and No Kid Hungry have also teamed up to provide schools with indoor growing systems to get more fresh, healthy food into the schools that need it most. Schools are using these systems in a wide variety of contexts. Some installed growing units in their cafeterias where students can watch plants grow and taste the results in the salad bar offerings. Others have placed units in science classrooms and integrated them with science instruction. In 2020, we provided 17 additional schools with indoor growing units that teachers can use whether teaching from home or in the classroom.

Partnership: Major League Baseball

Creating access for youth to safe outdoor play opportunities and greenspaces is a priority for Scotts, as part of our GroMoreGood initiative. We partner with Major League Baseball to sponsor the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program. Grants are awarded to youth-focused community organizations to give kids modern, playable ball fields. through the program, we have upgraded 27 youth-focused baseball and softball fields across the country, impacting more than 10,000 youth, plus their communities. In 2020, we received nearly 500 applications and selected 4 winning communities for field upgrades.

LGBTQ+A Gardens

In 2020, we launched an initiative with our partner KidsGardening to conduct outreach to LGBTQ+A youth-serving organizations. KidsGardening will use additional grant dollars provided by our foundation to build relationships with these organizations and help them to pilot or grow garden programs as part of their overall programming efforts. Our long-term goal is to ensure garden grants, with their proven benefits for physical and mental health, are reaching this important and high-need population.

Scotts Canada Gro for Good

Community enhancement efforts come to life in Canada through the Gro for Good initiative, which provides grants to six community garden and greenspace projects annually. Successful projects demonstrate an ability to engage youth, address health and wellness needs and/or enhance the environment while engaging the local community. Since its inception, Gro for Good has generated 6,069 volunteer hours, 5,974 pounds of harvested vegetables and 2,810 pounds of harvests for local food banks. In addition to its annual Gro for Good grants, Scotts Canada partners with Communities in Bloom, Plant · Grow · Share a Row and Nutrients for Life to inspire and educate people about the importance of greenspaces, environmental stewardship and feeding our communities through the development of community gardens. 

Youth empowerment

We are committed to empowering the next generation of gardeners, growers and entrepreneurs in our communities. Through a number of initiatives, we help students reach their full potential and achieve social and economic mobility. We help high-potential students realize their dreams and achieve their goals. We also work to engage youth through our gardening and environmental stewardship programs to create a future generation of gardeners and environmental stewards

The Legacy Project

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, in partnership with The Hagedorn Legacy Foundation, is helping Central Ohio area students unlock their inner potential to achieve their educational and vocational goals through The Legacy Project. The program’s mission is to empower youth through possibility thinking and innovative problem-solving, for greater personal freedom, social mobility and the betterment of their communities. Originating from the desire to help students grow their “grit”—that strength of character so vital to success—the Legacy project is designed to help students become their best selves and succeed both in and after high school. One-on-one, individualized coaching is central to the program, in addition to career exposure opportunities and experiential learning activities. There are currently 38 students in the program from Metro Early College High School and Whitehall Yearling High School. ScottsMiracle-Gro associates volunteer to mentor program participants, and the students benefit from visits to our Marysville, Ohio, campus to meet with leaders in Marketing, R&D, Finance and other departments.

The program fosters the growth of key character traits while supporting developmental life skills and entrepreneurial thinking that enable students to achieve short- and long-term career objectives. These goals include college, technical/vocational education or entrepreneurial pathways to move into the workforce.

Students are provided with the following:

  • Individualized coaching
  • Tuition toward post-secondary education
  • Educational and career goal identification and setting
  • Opportunity to learn from entrepreneurs and develop their own entrepreneurial thinking skills
  • Career exposure opportunities
  • Community mentors to identify with and learn from

Much has changed in the world over the past year. For our students, their families and the program staff, COVID-19 has significantly impacted how we live and interact with one another.

Through all of this, we are proud of our Metro and Whitehall Legacy project students. They are applying what they’ve learned in the program to better navigate their daily lives while being quarantined at home. With support from our dedicated partners at The Ohio State University, Mayerson Academy and Global Financial Partners, experiential learning activities have successfully gone virtual. Our team of coaches has continued individualized coaching sessions with students throughout the pandemic. While distance-learning practices remain in effect, the Legacy staff will ensure students continue to have access to the resources and educational experiences associated with the program.

Other community investments

We support various other community initiatives and ways to give back to our communities. One way we do this is by providing product donations to local communities and organizations to help them get started on gardening, greenspace and beautification projects. In 2020, we suspended our normal product donation program due to COVID-19, but we looked for ways to fill in the gaps creatively. We partnered with a local organization, Green Columbus, to provide 1,947 bags of mulch and topsoil, as well as bulk mulch, for volunteer service projects in community gardens and parks that benefited more than 5,500 city residents. Our Lebanon, Connecticut, growing media plant also directly donated 2,925 cubic feet, more than 1,500 bags, of mulch to local park agencies which had seen a substantial increase in visitors during the pandemic.

Pelotonia

Every year, we support a team of associates who participate in Pelotonia. Pelotonia is an annual bicycling tour and nonprofit organization based in Columbus, Ohio, that raises money for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. In 2020, Pelotonia switched to a virtual format and encouraged participants to develop fundraising goals to raise awareness for pelotonia and support cancer research. This year, our team had 68 participants, including associates and their families, and we raised over $120,000. Our associates and their families participated by making face masks, volunteering to deliver meals to seniors, cultivating youth interest in gardening, donating clothing and completing their own honorary 25-, 50-, and 100-mile rides. Since 2010, our team has raised more than $2.6 million for Pelotonia.

American Heart Association

ScottsMiracle-Gro has participated in the American Heart Association Central Ohio Heart Walk since 2008. Over the last 12 years, we have raised nearly $2 million for cardiovascular disease research. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 Walk went virtual. The ScottsMiracle-Gro team encouraged associates to get outside and walk for better health throughout the year. The 2020 virtual walk experience was also a way to engage more associates from across the company to participate and share their personal stories as to why they walk to end heart disease and stroke. Through the dedicated support from our associates and the commitment of leadership, ScottsMiracle-Gro was the No. 1 fundraising company for the Central ohio Walk. Along with financial support, ScottsMiracle-Gro has engaged more than 4,900 associates, family and friends to participate in the Walk.

Learn more about how we are improving our local communities.