34 sustainability grants awarded to New Jersey schools, two in Essex

EWING, NJ — At an April 25 event, Sustainable Jersey for Schools announced the 34 New Jersey schools selected to receive a Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funded by the PSEG Foundation. Four $10,000 grants and 30 $2,000 grants were distributed to fund a variety of projects including an outdoor science lab, sustainability curriculum, school wellness programs, hydroponic and aeroponic gardens, green walls, wind and solar energy charging stations, recycling and more.

“To be an innovative state, we must support our teachers, administrators and their respective communities as they shape the future of their students and schools for years to come,” Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon said in a press release. “Grant funding will build capacity as schools embark on sustainability projects that directly benefit the students.”

The PSEG Foundation has contributed more than $1 million in funding to the Sustainable Jersey Small Grants Program.

“We are proud to partner with Sustainable Jersey to support and help fund projects that provide sustainable neighborhoods, economic development and STEM education to empower a brighter future. By supporting sustainable education in schools, we can help guide children and engage entire communities in the ways to help transform the environment,” PSEG Foundation President Ellen Lambert said in the press release.

Proposals were evaluated by an independent Blue Ribbon Selection Committee. The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grants are intended to help school districts and schools make progress toward a sustainable future in general, and specifically toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification. Currently 256 districts and 634 schools have registered to work toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification.

One of the four $10,000 grants will go to South Orange Middle School for river curriculum development. The school will purchase additional equipment to expand its river curriculum to include students from Maplewood Middle School and Columbia High School. More of the area around the Rahway River will be used to allow for more students to learn about water quality, biodiversity, and how to design and complete their own independent study projects.

“The Rahway River Field Work Project centered around South Orange’s River Day has been a fruitful experience for all seventh-graders, engaging them in a meaningful learning experience which extends students outside of the walls of the classroom,” said Anthony Cicenia, seventh-grade science teacher and South Orange Middle School Green Team member.

“With the Rahway River Field Work Project and through the process of inquiry and experiential learning, students are able to enhance their knowledge of our local watershed and the importance of preserving and restoring the ecosystem,” said Kimberly Beane, STEM supervisor for the South Orange-Maplewood School District.

“The science department at South Orange Middle School does an absolutely wonderful job creating learning opportunities that extend outside of the classroom and into the community. The Rahway River Field Work Project is an experience that students will remember for the rest of their life,” SOMS Principal Lynn Irby said.

One of the 30 grants worth $2,000 each will go to Number 3 Elementary School in Belleville to create a BEE Green School Garden. A school garden will be created and run by teachers trained by the City Green Garden Program to teach 28 units of study, each consisting of three or more lessons that cover math, history, art, science and language.

“Belleville Elementary School No. 3 is thrilled to be a recipient of this grant award from Sustainable Jersey. With this grant, we can continue our efforts to teach and learn about sustainable farming with our students. We hope to foster a desire in our students to better understand the role that each of them plays in promoting sustainability at home and throughout our community!” Principal Caleb Rhodes said.