To achieve a brighter future, one school at a time.
Empower New Jersey communities to build a better world for future generations with the tools, training and financial incentives necessary to pursue critical sustainability initiatives.
As New Jersey faces issues such as the climate crisis, a growing digital equity divide, increasing childhood asthma and environmental pollution, schools need to be a part of the solution to these challenges
Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a free, voluntary certification program for pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade public schools in New Jersey. The program provides guidance, support, and recognition to schools that implement steps to be sustainable in their operations and proactive in preparing students for the challenges they will face in the future.
Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification actions cover a wide range of topic areas focusing on the three equal, interrelated components of sustainability: 1) People: contribute to a strong civil society that provides opportunity for all, 2) Prosperity: support local economies and wise use of community resources and 3) Planet: practice responsible environmental management and conservation.
Issues such as water scarcity, climate change, racism and environmental degradation require broad-based sustainability literacy to ensure that young people are equipped to recognize and respond to critical issues now and in their chosen careers. Sustainable Jersey participating schools serve as learning labs for these issues and the certification program supports educators by identifying authentic learning opportunities for students and staff.
Since the launch of the Sustainable Jersey municipal program in 2009 and the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program in 2014, participants have successfully implemented and documented over 18,500 actions from our list of best practices. Nearly six-million dollars in grants have been awarded to municipalities, schools and school districts in the program.
Sustainable Jersey for Schools is based on the successful Sustainable Jersey certification program for municipalities (81 percent of New Jersey municipalities are participating). To develop the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program content and certification framework, the New Jersey School Boards Association and Sustainable Jersey built a comprehensive coalition of educational organizations and academic, business and state agency partners
On July 22, 2013, over 100 people attended a kick-off meeting at The College of New Jersey where working groups, representing the various partners began to define the program standards and actions that would advance schools toward certification. After a little over a year of development with over 12 volunteer task forces, Sustainable Jersey for Schools was announced on October 28, 2014 at the New Jersey School Boards Association Workshop in Atlantic City. On September 28, 2015, Sustainable Jersey for Schools certified the first 59 schools. The number of Sustainable Jersey for Schools certified schools has grown to nearly 1,000 as of 2020.