WEST ORANGE, NJ — On May 23, Sustainable Jersey announced that West Orange was one of 35 N.J. municipalities, schools and school districts selected to receive a Sustainable Jersey grant funded by the PSEG Foundation. Proposals were evaluated by an independent blue-ribbon selection committee. The Sustainable Jersey grants are intended to help municipalities and schools in general make progress toward a sustainable future, and specifically toward Sustainable Jersey and Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification.
The West Orange School District will work with the township of West Orange and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension to use the grant funds to construct bioretention systems at three elementary and two middle schools. Besides mitigating stormwater issues, the gardens will also act as “living classrooms” for students to learn about green infrastructure. The West Orange Environmental Commission will work with the district to create educational sessions and develop corresponding curriculum.
“The township of West Orange is grateful to Sustainable Jersey for providing our students with funding for bioretention systems,” Mayor Robert Parisi said. “Developing an innovative means to remove contaminants and sedimentation from stormwater runoff is a key element in protecting our environment. The lasting impact of the Sustainable Jersey grant will go a long way towards improving our community and improving infrastructure while encouraging teamwork among our students on achieving a common goal.”
Securing the West Orange award itself was the result of teamwork and partnership within the community. The WOEC and Department of Public Works submitted letters of support for the project’s grant application. Additional support came from Rutgers Cooperative Extension county agent Amy Rowe, interim Superintendent of Schools C. Lauren Schoen, WOEC Chairperson Mike Brick, West Orange High School technical and engineering department supervisor Ryan DelGuercio, and township engineer and Public Works Director Leonard Lepore.
“As we work to achieve a sustainable New Jersey, our organization understands how important it is to help municipalities and schools build on the progress they are making at the local level,” Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon said. “The Sustainable Jersey grants, funded by the PSEG Foundation, build capacity and help our communities take meaningful steps to face issues such as the climate crisis, a growing equity divide and environmental pollution. Congratulations to the municipalities, schools and districts that received grant funding today.”
The PSEG Foundation has contributed $2.8 million in funding to the Sustainable Jersey grants program for municipalities and schools.
“The PSEG Foundation is committed to helping build sustainable and thriving communities by empowering and investing in the people, environment and infrastructure of the communities we serve,” said Calvin Ledford, PSEG director of corporate social responsibility and president of the PSEG Foundation. “Supporting Sustainable Jersey and local municipalities, schools and school districts as they build sustainability programs puts resources where they’re needed to positively impact the environment and local communities, having a lasting impact on neighborhoods throughout New Jersey.”