(CHICAGO) Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP announced today that more than 40 attorneys and staff, along with firm leaders including former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, volunteered their time and skills to help plant a back-to-school garden and build an outdoor classroom at Smyth J. Elementary School, a Chicago Public School located in the South Loop.  

"Katten has a long history of providing a number of different volunteer services, and we are very committed to enhancing the communities where we live and work," said Katten Chairman Roger P. Furey, who was on hand to help plant the garden. "This is a great opportunity for us to expand our work with city schools while spending some quality time with our colleagues outside of the office."

As part of the firm's Volunteer Service Day,  Katten partnered with Gardeneers, a nonprofit organization that works with schools across Chicago to teach students how to grow their own produce, lead healthier lives and achieve greater success in and outside of the classroom. Volunteers took part in a variety of activities including weeding, harvesting and trellising as well as building and painting tables and benches at the school, located at 1059 W. 13th St.

"Gardeneers is a great organization because their focus is helping young people gain better appreciation for gardening as a way to enrich their knowledge about nutrition and better understand the environment," said Mark R. Grossmann, global head of Katten's Corporate practice who serves as a Gardeneers board member along with Daley. "We hope this project will inspire the students as well as enhance their learning environment in the coming school year and beyond."

Founded in early 2014 by Teach for America alumni May Tsupros and Adam Zmick and primarily funded by Victory Park Capital founder and CEO Richard Levy, Gardeneers partners with schools to create and sustain effective garden programs. School garden programs have been found to improve student nutrition, increase social-emotional and interpersonal skills, enhance a connection to nature, boost test scores and even reduce neighborhood crime rates. Many schools lack the necessary resources to start and maintain a successful gardening program. Gardeneers helps engage the local community to achieve long-term support for garden maintenance, educational programming and the garden-to-cafeteria connection.