Sustainability grants awarded to NJ schools

26 NJ schools and districts awarded grants to mobilize sustainability projects

Funded by NJEA, projects include aquaponics systems, outdoor classrooms and school waste reduction programs

Sustainable Jersey for Schools has announced the 26 New Jersey public schools and districts selected to receive Sustainable Jersey for Schools grants funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Sixteen $10,000 grants and ten $2,000 grants were distributed to support a variety of projects including aquaponics systems, outdoor classrooms, pollinator and edible gardens, water bottle refilling stations, tree planting, food waste and composting initiatives, mindfulness programs, student green team capacity building and more.

With this contribution NJEA has provided $1.75 million to support a sustainable future for children across the state through the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program. “This is an important program that directs resources into our schools and NJEA is proud to continue to work with Sustainable Jersey,” said NJEA President Sean Spiller. “When our students can learn, at an early age, that sustainable and healthy practices often go “hand in hand” with economic efficiencies, we all benefit from the positive changes. It is our job to help create a new generation of engaged citizens and leaders. We help ensure that we leave a better world for our students when we emphasize the value of sustainability.” In addition to the grant funding, NJEA supports Sustainable Jersey for Schools as a program underwriter.

“Sustainable Jersey is proud to support the work of each of these schools and school districts and to recognize the dedication of every applicant,” said Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon. “These creative projects are exceptional and will serve to accelerate school-centered sustainability programs as we head into a pivotal decade for climate action and sustainability in our state.” Proposals were judged by an independent Blue-Ribbon Selection Committee.

Recipients of $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools Project Grants

CountySchool District$10k RecipientDescription
AtlanticGreater Egg Harbor Regional HighAbsegami High SchoolAbsegami Apple Orchard: The school is creating an apple orchard to support its existing honey bee population and provide fresh produce for the community, including the Atlantic City Food Bank. The urban farming classes will develop recipes, formulate business plans and harvest fruit from years to come.
Somers Point  
New York Avenue SchoolInclusive Outdoor Space: The school is creating an outdoor space that will be inclusive to all students. The space will be designed with special needs of students, such as mobility delays and sensory sensitivities, in mind. This will ensure equitable access to students of all abilities.
BurlingtonDelran TownshipDelran Intermediate SchoolWhat a Waste! Reducing Plastic and Water Waste: The school plans to educate the community on how to reduce plastic and water waste attributed to the use of disposable plastic water bottles. Four water bottle refilling stations will be installed in the school to compliment the campaign, which will track the changes observed in the waste stream.
Cape MayCape May County Special ServicesCape May County Special Services School DistrictReuse, Refill, and Reduce: The district will create a campaign based on the three “R’s” that will educate the community on the sustainability issues associated with disposable plastic water bottles. Five water bottle refilling stations will be installed and guest speakers from organizations such as Rutgers Water Resources Program, the County Utilities Authority, and the County Department of Health, will be invited to talk at the school.
HudsonNorth BergenNorth Bergen School District71st Street Community Garden: The district will work with the municipality to rehabilitate a small park (located within a half-mile of three schools) into a new community garden that teachers can integrate into their curriculum. An after-school garden club will be created and produce will be used to teach students about healthy eating and nutrition.
HunterdonFrenchtown BoroughEdith Ort Thomas Elementary SchoolCreative Complete Streets: The school will work with the municipality and local artists to create wayfinding poles that will encourage walking and biking around town. Students will collect recycled materials that will be used to create the poles. This project is part of a greater initiative to celebrate the Borough’s creative history and create a more walkable community.
Hunterdon  Readington Township  Three Bridges Elementary SchoolDetention Basin to Bioswale: The school with work with the municipality and Rutgers Water Resources Program to create a bioswale to replace a drainage collection area. The bioswale will absorb and filter stormwater of its pollutants instead of having it flow out into the street and end up in the Raritan River. The area will also be used as a teaching and learning environment by teachers.
MercerLawrence TownshipLawrence Township Public SchoolsGreen Team Achievers: The district will continue to promote sustainability through a variety of programs, including those associated with local watershed organizations, Terhune Orchards, Snipes Farm, the Lawrence Nature Center, the Lawrence-Hopewell Train Commission, and the municipal green team. The purpose of this project is to engage students and their families in sustainable practices, health and wellness, and environmental awareness and education.
MiddlesexWoodbridge TownshipJ. F. Kennedy Memorial High SchoolDisposable Water Bottle Reduction Program: The school, working with its Eco-Friendly Club and the municipality, will create a program with a goal to decrease the school’s dependency on single-use plastic water bottles. An outdoor water bottle refilling station will be installed and waste audits will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
MonmouthHowell TownshipAdelphia SchoolRoar and Explore Outdoor Classroom: The school will create an outdoor classroom that is inclusive to all students, regardless of ability. The classroom well be designed to foster social and emotional learning and provide hands-on sustainability education. The goal of the project is to deepen students’ connection to nature while encouraging play.
Monmouth  Howell TownshipHowell Township Middle School NorthLimitless Cafe: The school will create a space to host its 21st Century Life Skills program that will prepare students to make informed life and career decisions. The space will be designed to be inclusive of all students regardless of ability. Students will use the space to practice skills related to effective communication, critical thinking, digital literacy and self-advocacy.
Monmouth  KeyportKeyport High SchoolOutdoor Learning Center: The school will create an outdoor learning center that will include a vegetable garden, classroom, and greenhouse. This space will encourage collaboration between the school and municipality, including the Keyport Garden Club and Green Team. One of the goals of the center is to aid in the creation of a “farm to table” program with local restaurants.
MonmouthMiddletown Township  Middletown High School NorthUpgrades to the Outdoor Learning Lab: The school will upgrade its existing greenhouse to include a heating system that will extend the growing season, a solar panel that will provide a sustainable source electricity and an aquaponics system that will provide a source of water and nutrients to the garden. The greenhouse is used to enhance the school’s STEM programming.
OceanToms River RegionalToms River – High School NorthTransforming the Courtyard into a Classroom: The school will transform its courtyard into an outdoor classroom. An old greenhouse will be repurposed into a seating area and a butterfly and sensory garden will be constructed. The school’s Arts Academy will be responsible for the creative design of the space which will include murals and a sculpture garden.
SomersetBedminster TownshipBedminster Township Elementary SchoolBulldog Biodiversity Project: The school will create a biodiversity learning site with the help of Raritan Headwaters that will include an outdoor classroom and a rain garden. The purpose of the site is to protect wildlife habitats and educate students on the importance of Earth’s diverse ecosystems. A local forester will work with the school to remove invasive, and label native, species.
UnionHillsideHillside High SchoolSustainable Minds: The school will work its garden club to create an outdoor classroom alongside the existing garden with the purpose of fostering mindfulness. Kean University and the Nurturing Environments Institute will provide professional development to teachers on mindfulness strategies and environmental psychology.

Recipients of $2,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools Project Grants

CountySchool District$2k RecipientTitle
AtlanticGreater Egg Harbor Regional HighCedar Creek High SchoolEngineering Living Walls
BergenRidgewoodRidgewood High SchoolStudent-Led Tree Planting Initiative
BergenRidgewoodSomerville Elementary SchoolPromoting Sustainability in the Community
BergenRidgewoodTravell Elementary SchoolButterfly Garden Rehabilitation
MorrisMount Olive TownshipMountain View Elementary SchoolOutdoor Classroom
MorrisRoxbury TownshipKennedy Elementary SchoolOutdoor Classroom and Monarch Waystation
MorrisThe School District of the ChathamsChatham High SchoolElectrifying Landscaping Equipment
SalemPenns Grove-Carneys Point RegionalPenns Grove High SchoolSustainable Courtyard and Waste Stations
SussexStillwater TownshipStillwater Township Elementary SchoolCafeteria Connection’s Food Waste Management Program
WarrenAllamuchy TownshipMountain Villa SchoolRenewed Community and School Garden

$10,000 Grant Recipients

Burlington County

“Delran Township Public Schools has worked since 2014 as a partner with Sustainable Jersey in order to reduce our carbon footprint and have done so through an Energy Savings Improvement Program and multiple projects that have been funded and supported by Sustainable Jersey and its partners. Delran Intermediate School, through the leadership of Sharon Kernan, endeavors to reduce, if not eliminate, the use of plastic bottles altogether. All of us at Delran Township Public Schools are thankful for the partnership and support we have always received in order to be innovative and productive members of the local environment.” – Brian Brotschul, Ed.D., Superintendent, Delran Township Public Schools, Burlington County\

Cape May County

“Cape May County Special Services is proud to be the recipient of this year’s Sustainable Jersey for Schools $10,000 grant funded by NJEA.  The grant will be used to convert our existing water fountains into water filling stations and for the promotion of responsible green practices that include recycling and alternatives to plastics. Thank you for this opportunity and for the funds to support our 3 R’s project- Refill, Refuse and Reduce!” – Jamie P. Moscony, Assistant Superintendent, Cape May County Special Services School District, Cape May County

Hunterdon County

“Frenchtown Elementary School is looking forward to working with Modern Fossils and Sustainable Frenchtown to create a wayfinding sign made from locally found objects. This will be a great educational opportunity for students to learn about caring for their environment and connecting with their community through art. We appreciate the support of Sustainable Schools and NJEA in connecting our school to our community!” – Jim Hintenach, Principal, and Tricia Hurley, Art Teacher, Frenchtown Elementary School, Frenchtown Borough School District, Hunterdon County

“On behalf of the Readington Township School District, I would like to express my gratitude to Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the NJEA for selecting Three Bridges School as recipient of a $10,000 grant.  Our school district has a long tradition of being environmentally friendly and this grant supports our continued work.  Our sustainability efforts are memorialized in our strategic goals where we wish to promote, in our students, an awareness of one’s self, others, as well as the environment.  As we live this mission, the grant will assist us in funding a large-scale green project that will be available for future students.” – Jonathon Hart, Ph.D., Superintendent, Readington Township Public School District, Hunterdon County

Monmouth County

“Adelphia is a kindergarten through second grade school that believes individuals should have equal access to inclusive learning environments. As a recognized Title I school, Adelphia serves many socioeconomically disadvantaged students and a high percentage of English Language Learners. The outdoor classroom will provide an environment that enriches behaviors that support learning, fosters social and emotional learning and the well-being of both students and staff, while closing achievement gaps. The outdoor classroom will provide students with a wide variety of hands-on learning experiences. Unstructured play will enhance children’s confidence, problem solving, independence, social interaction skills, and creativity.” – Danielle Palazzolo, Principal, Adelphia School, Howell Township Public School District, Monmouth County

“As the Principal of Howell Middle School North, I would like to thank Sustainable Jersey.  It is an honor to be awarded this generous grant funded by the NJEA and because of your support, Howell Middle School North will soon have a Limitless Cafe. The Howell Middle School North’s Limitless Café, will be serving 21st Century Life Skills in an inclusive environment for our students. Computer Teacher, Teresa Castellan, and Media Specialist, Josephine Schneider have engineered a realistic and comfortable space for students to collaborate, problem-solve, and excel in our library media center café.   Furnished with high-top tables, and chairs, as well as accessible booth seating, students will engage in realistic personalized learning environments through a variety of simulation activities that address a multitude of learning, literacy, and life skills. Our Limitless Café will serve up opportunities for students to utilize calendars, navigation tools, email, literacy skills, text to speech, communication, and engage in real-life experiences. By creating real-life experiences for students to engage in, we are motivating students to integrate higher-order thinking skills. Ultimately, the Café will empower students to become independent, efficient, and innovative lifelong learners.” – Paul Farley, Principal, Howell Township Middle School North, Howell Township Public School District, Monmouth County

“The Keyport School District is honored to have been selected as one of the 2021 NJEA Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant recipients. The funding has allowed us to give life to our vision for a nature centered outdoor classroom and greenhouse. The KHS Outdoor Learning Center will inspire young minds to once again dig their hands and feet into the Earth that is theirs. We look forward to enabling our students to sow a life of sustainability for all of Posterity!” – Dr. Lisa Savoia, Superintendent, Keyport Public Schools, Monmouth County

“The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funded by NJEA will enable Middletown High School North to install a heat sink within our greenhouse which will enable us to regulate the temperature during the winter months to extend the growing season using natural, sustainable methods.  In addition, we will install an aquaponics system by building a large-scale koi pond that will serve as a source of water and nutrients for the plants. The water from the koi pond will be circulated through the greenhouse aquaponics system.  With the heat sink in place, at the end of the local growing season, projects started in the fall can be transferred to the greenhouse for continuation throughout the winter. Similarly, projects intended to be completed in the outdoor garden can be started earlier inside the greenhouse and then moved outside. The heat sink will allow our students to fully use all the resources of the Outdoor Learning Lab as it relates to the impact of environmental and agricultural variables on plant development.” – Patricia Vari-Cartier, Principal, Middletown High School North, Middletown Township Public School District, Monmouth County

Ocean County

“I am proud of how our dedicated staff members tend to build–literally and figuratively–off each other’s ideas, and grateful to Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the NJEA for recognizing and supporting this collective innovation. Our school is better off because of this grant, our students are better served, and there’s a sense of excitement about where our students will take this.” – Ed Keller, Principal, High School North, Toms River Regional School District, Ocean County

“It’s remarkable how our schools are able to forge and retain their identities while also being inspired by projects that meet our collective mission. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where our students take this new courtyard, and how their work will inspire others. Thank you, Sustainable Jersey for Schools and NJEA, for this opportunity.” – Mike Citta, Superintendent, Toms River Regional School District, Ocean County

Somerset County

“Bedminster Township School District in Somerset County, New Jersey is honored to receive this Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant. They are looking forward to creating a more inviting, student-centered learning and growing atmosphere outside on the school grounds. These funds will allow the district to purchase comfortable outdoor seating for students and begin to create outdoor spaces where kids want to be.” – Jennifer Giordano, Superintendent, Bedminster Township School District, Somerset County

Union County

“On behalf of the Hillside Board of Education and the Hillside High School Garden Club students, we are honored to be the recipients of Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funded by NJEA. The opportunity to create a pergola learning environment that will support both the socio-emotional well-being and environmental content knowledge is an exciting opportunity for the students at Hillside High School. Our students will have the opportunity to interface with curricular resources that expand their content knowledge about garden resources from international communities, and the students will have the potential to transform their ideological perspective about current environmental issues that are relevant within the Hillside community. Students learn best when the classroom content can be used to construct new knowledge that is relevant to the realities of the learner. I am confident that this outdoor learning space will invite students to reimage how they examine and communicate environmental issues that support a sustainable practice within Hillside’s community.” – Erskine R. Glover, Superintendent, Hillside Public Schools, Union County

$2,000 Grant Recipients

Atlantic County

“On behalf of the Environmental Science program and the faculty and administration of Cedar Creek High School, I’d like to thank the Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant program and the NJEA for this $2,000 award. Cedar Creek is dedicated to teaching and practicing Sustainability, and this award will help us build Living Walls that will be used as a teaching tool and as a means to improve staff and student health and well-being in our building.” – Erin Sharpe, Science Teacher and Green Team Member, Cedar Creek High School, Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District, Atlantic County

Bergen County

“Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funds have been put to great use already at Somerville School. Our garden received a wonderful upgrade, and we just planted a new shade tree in the kindergarten playground to keep providing healthy fresh air and comfort to our students. The next step in our ongoing work is to upgrade our recycling program in the cafeteria through better signage and bins. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to further enhance sustainability practices into our school and to engage students in activities and actions that will help protect our precious environment now and for future generations” – Dr. Lorna Oates-Santos, Principal, Somerville Elementary School, Ridgewood Public School District, Bergen County

“The students, staff, administration, HSA, and Green Team of Travell Elementary School are thrilled and honored to receive a grant from Sustainable Jersey. The project to improve Travell’s butterfly garden is a much-needed improvement to a much-loved area of our grounds. Our Green Team’s plan includes a new sensory walk and new flowers to surround the existing seating and picnic table. Our hope is that this revitalized area will provide a space for small group instruction and quiet contemplation. We are all so appreciative of our Green Team and our larger school community’s commitment to this initiative.” – Brian Ross, Principal, Travell Elementary School, Ridgewood Public Schools, Bergen County

Morris County

“Mountain View School is in the process of creating an outdoor classroom to improve students’ mental health and academic performance. A local architect designed our layout and additional items were provided by local businesses and non-profit organizations such as soft surfacing and shade structures. We are excited to use the New Jersey Sustainable Schools grant funds to purchase collaborative workstations to complete our outdoor learning environment. We look forward to the completion of our project by early June and for students to enjoy fresh air and nature as they learn!” – Melissa Kolenski, Principal, Mountain View Elementary School, Mount Olive Township School District, Morris County

“We are so proud of the efforts and determination of our Kennedy Elementary School community in their sustainability efforts.  I know Kennedy Elementary School is excited to be the recipient of this grant, as it will allow them to pursue continued endeavors to educate our students on sustainability and being environmentally responsible and conscientious citizens. With this funding they are excited to begin establishing an outdoor classroom complete with a Monarch Butterfly Way Station, composting bins, plants that attract pollinators, and educational stations to teach our students about the importance of nature and its contributions.  The best part is that it’s right outside Kennedy school’s doors.” – Loretta L. Radulic, Ed. D., Superintendent, Roxbury Township School District, Morris County

“On behalf of the School District of the Chathams and Chatham High School, I would like to express my gratitude and support to Sustainable Jersey for their generosity and commitment to environmental sustainability.  The grant you have most recently awarded to Chatham will enable us to take our first steps down the path toward electric landscaping equipment.  In addition to reducing air pollution and our carbon footprint, this equipment will enable our maintenance staff to perform work during school hours in a quieter way that is less distracting for students.  We are eager to put the grant to use and we thank you for making it happen!” – Dr. Michael LaSusa, Superintendent, School District of the Chathams, Morris County

Salem County

“Our school district has set the pace for the rest of Salem County by taking a proactive approach to sustainability. We have the first environmental center in Salem County at Penns Grove High School. Our vision began with the release of the butterflies and has expanded to an outdoor aquaponics lab and researching E-Bikes for our students and community use. We have been the recipients of the $2,000 sustainable grant and Mrs. Vicki Palaganas has been named the Sustainability Hero. In partnership with our local teacher association, we are looking forward to expanding the opportunities to continue to maintain and support the process over time.” – Dr. Zenaida Cobian, Superintendent Penns Grove-Carneys Point Regional School District, Salem County

About Sustainable Jersey for Schools

Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a certification program for public schools in New Jersey. It was launched by Sustainable Jersey, an organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward municipalities and schools as they pursue sustainability programs. To date, 1,050 schools are participating in the program. Visit the Participating Districts and Schools webpage to see the full list of participating and certified schools and school districts. Sustainable Jersey for Schools has awarded over $2.6 million in grants to schools and school districts.

Sustainable Jersey for Schools is underwritten by the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Clean Energy Program, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the PSEG Foundation and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). The 2022 Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grants Program is underwritten by the PSEG Foundation, NJEA and the Gardinier Environmental Fund. Platinum and founding sponsors are PSEG, South Jersey Gas and New Jersey Natural Gas. The gold sponsors are Solar Landscape and NJM Insurance Group (founding sponsor). The silver sponsor is Investors Bank. The bronze sponsors are Gabel Associates, Maschio’s Food Service Inc. and RMC Energy Services.





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