The Future of Sustainability: 34 NJ Schools and Districts Awarded Grants

on Mar 19, 2021

Ewing, NJ – Today, Sustainable Jersey for Schools announced the 34 New Jersey public schools and districts selected to receive Sustainable Jersey grants funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Fourteen $10,000 grants and twenty $2,000 grants were distributed to support a variety of projects including outdoor classrooms, aquaponics food production, water bottle refilling stations, anti-bias training, school wellness programs, waste reduction, student green team capacity building and more.

As a program underwriter, NJEA has provided $1.5 million to the Sustainable Jersey Grants Program and Sustainable Jersey for Schools program in order to support a sustainable future for children across the state. “NJEA is honored to continue our work with Sustainable Jersey as we direct resources into our schools that will support these innovative programs,” said NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller. “It is our job to help create a new generation of engaged citizens and leaders. As our communities face economic and racial inequities, we have an opportunity to teach our students to be resourceful with recycling, sustainable living, and environmentalism and to pass that knowledge on. By emphasizing the value of sustainability, we also help ensure that we leave a better world for our students.”

“On the heels of an unquestionably difficult year, Sustainable Jersey is pleased to support the schools and districts working on sustainability initiatives,” said Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon. “Congratulations to the schools and districts that received a grant. Your innovative projects will have a lasting impact on the future of New Jersey.” Proposals were judged 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.

Recipients of $10,000 grants (listed alphabetical by county)


School District

$10k Recipient



Winslow Township

School No. 2 Elementary

Walking Story Trail Completion: This project includes the completion of a Walking Story Trail that will encourage fitness while learning about sustainability, health, kindness, science, and other topics. The Story Trail, which was started through a Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant, will feature laminated pages of story books mounted in protective book stands installed in a loop around the play area, creating a walking path.


Winslow Township

School No. 4 Elementary

Fitness Trail Completion and Walking Club: This project will complete the school’s fitness trail with an asphalt or wood chip pathway to connect the exercise spots, to help guide students and ensure that they stay in the designated area. The existing Fitness Trail has four exercise stations marked with educational signage to describe the activity to take place at each station and instructions for completing the activity safely. At this time, the Fitness Trail is on part of the school's grass field, with no actual trail connecting the stations.


Essex County Vocational Technical

Essex County - West Caldwell Technical

Reducing Waste for a Better Future: This project aims to reduce waste in the cafeteria with reusable trays and by instituting food waste composting with on-site composters and to engage the school community in recycling non-mandated products in creative and educational methods. The school will determine a baseline of waste generation and improve tracking of its waste.



Watchung Elementary

Connected Courtyard: This project will restore an overgrown inner courtyard into a native plant garden, bird and beneficial insect habitat, and outdoor classroom with STEAM centers. The Connected Courtyard will be a space where students connect with nature, learning about ecosystems and interdependence of species. It will also foster connections with the community through a speaker series, gardening activities and STEAM centered projects that aim to solve real-world problems.


West Orange

West Orange High

Innovations in Sustainability: This project includes a solar bus shelter, artificial floating islands and futuristic farming. These projects promote and exhibit sustainability in innovative ways and include student-designed and fabricated STEM prototypes. They are also a part of the Fight for Green student club.


Edison Township

James Madison Intermediate

Putting the Green into Green and Yellow: This project will incorporate school recycling initiatives and COVID-19 Centers for Disease Control health and safety guidelines to ensure students and staff have access to reliable water sources. Filtered bottle filling stations will be installed to encourage students to use reusable water bottles in place of single-use plastic bottles.



Campbell Elementary

Campbell School Goes Green: This project will include the purchase of recycling receptacles and a new bike rack. The goals are to shed light on the importance of recycling, draw attention to the waste produced in/from the school, promote healthy habits and donate food to those in need. The ultimate goal is to promote energy conservation and make recycling commonplace.


Woodbridge Township

Colonia High

Rain Garden: This project will install and maintain three rain gardens that will collect rainwater that would normally be routed to storm drains. It will work in conjunction with an Eagle Scout rain garden project. One rain garden will collect the runoff from the athletic fieldhouse while the remaining gardens will collect runoff from the front of the building.


Highland Park

Bartle Elementary

Little Sistahs in the Know: This project will support the start of a Little Sistahs in the Know chapter at the school with a policy of non-exclusivity. Little Sistahs in the Know, Inc. is a non-profit organization that strives to build up girls of color by providing a venue for them to learn about their culture and heritage, to openly express themselves and develop sisterly bonds, and to foster a positive self-image and promote high self- esteem.


Howell Township

Taunton Elementary

Little Eagles Makerspace: This project will transform the current Computer Lab into a Makerspace. This space will provide all students with access to materials to engage in engineering, designing, exploring media, and building to create solutions to real world problems. Young learners will engage in authentic learning activities that will bring sustainability concepts to life.


Long Branch

George L. Catrambone Elementary

A Living Wall for All: This project will assist in building a Living Wall to connect students, staff, and the community of Long Branch to the beauty of nature. The goal is to innovate, create, nurture and maintain a sustainable space for all who enter the school’s halls.


Rockaway Township

Copeland Middle

The Looking Glass: A Way to Foster Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Through Literacy: This project aims to create a culture of literacy that fosters interpersonal and intrapersonal skills by allowing students opportunities to connect through conversations about reading and writing. The classroom libraries will include authors and texts that represent Copeland's diverse student population and allow all readers to see themselves, empathize with others, and imagine future possibilities. Through the development of balanced literacy, students will have the opportunity for choice, to set individualized learning goals, and foster greater self-efficacy.


Toms River Regional

Toms River - High School South

Investigating Food Crop Sustainability with Corn Genotype to Phenotype Teacher workshop: Partnering with Nourish the Future, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the National Corn Grower Association, this project aims to inspire a network of New Jersey area educators to foster critical thinking, connect students to modern STEM agriculture careers, and run a genotype to phenotype turn-key teacher workshop that can help meet Next Generation Science Standards using a sustainable agriculture theme. Over 20 teachers will receive in-service training and will return to run the curriculum with their classes thus reaching approximately 1,500-2,000 students.


Penns Grove - Carneys Point

Penns Grove - Carneys Point

Aquaponics Initiative: This project aims will bring aquaponics to the school and aims to stop human and environmental injustices. Aquaponics allows the grower to harvest BOTH fish and vegetables (a plant and a protein) simultaneously and can be food on someone's plate very quickly. It is a powerful remedy to the food desert epidemic and curtails nutritional inequality.


Recipients of $2,000 grants (listed alphabetical by county)


School District

$2k Recipient

Project Title


Atlantic City

Pennsylvania Avenue

Hydration Stations


Somers Point

New York Avenue




Benjamin Franklin Middle

Hydroponic Carts


Delran Township

Delran Intermediate

SOLACE (Student Outdoor Learning and Classroom Environment) - Shade for Safety



Belleville Middle

Kindness Rocks



Number 10 Elementary

Superheroes Rock, Vegetable and Pollinator Garden



Number 4 Elementary

Kindness Fairy Garden



Number 8 Elementary



Caldwell - West Caldwell

Grover Cleveland Middle

Pollinator Garden Project



Livingston High

School Wide Composting



Henry B. Whitehorne Middle

Verona Community Garden


Delaware Township

Delaware Township School

Learning Garden and Outdoor Classroom


High Bridge Borough

High Bridge Elementary

Water Fountains


Asbury Park

Bradley Elementary

Pre-K Students Hydroponic Gardens Project


Howell Township

Adelphia School

Water Bottle Filling Stations


Long Branch

Audrey W. Clark Elementary

Outdoor Classroom


Monmouth Regional High

Marine Academy of Science & Technology

Anti-Bias Training and Freshman Orientation Workshop on Social Justice


Monmouth Regional High

Monmouth Regional High

Bottle Filling Stations


Spring Lake Heights

Spring Lake Heights Elementary

Synthetic Frogs - Creating Sustainable Experiences



Leonard V. Moore Middle

Only Rain Down Our Drain Project


Grant Recipient Quotes (listed alphabetical by county)

BURLINGTON COUNTY - Quote from Grant Recipient

"What a ray of light in the world of Covid! Our students are so excited to see our outdoor classroom completed. The 650 students and staff will be able to participate safely in our shaded classroom area thanks to the generous grant from Sustainable Jersey for Schools and their partners. We are all so grateful." -Sharon Kernan and Patrick Myers, Green Team Members, Delran Intermediate School, Delran Township School District, Burlington County ($2k grant recipient)

BERGEN COUNTY - Quote from Grant Recipient

"Benjamin Franklin Middle School (BFMS) is elated to have been selected as a Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant recipient. Although we have a long way to go, we are confident this is a major step toward making our school a conscious contributor for positive environmental change. With the support from our community and continued efforts to involve students and enhance curriculum, joined with the efforts of Sustainable Jersey for Schools, BFMS is on a mission to help instill lifelong and meaningful practices that will benefit future generations.” - Greg Wu, Assistant Principal, Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Ridgewood Public School District, Bergen County ($2k grant recipient)

CAMDEN COUNTY - Quotes from Grant Recipients

"The Winslow Township School District is grateful for the funding support received from Sustainable "We are very grateful to Sustainable Jersey for Schools and NJEA for sponsoring our project, Waste Reduction for a Better Future! This project has come at an amazing time where climate change has become a major conversation for the young people of our state. This grant will assist in continuing to allow us to impart knowledge, skills and understanding of sustainability to our students for years to come. Thank you!" - Ayisha Robinson, Principal, Essex County West Caldwell Technical School, Essex County Vocational Technical Schools, Essex County ($10k grant recipient)

"We are stoked to receive this grant money towards making Livingston High School a greener place to learn and work. Reducing our food waste and completing the cycle and turning our scraps into local food is one of the most important lessons we can teach our youth and we're honored to use this gift to continue this journey." -Doug Jay, Green Team member, Livingston High School, Livingston Public Schools, Essex County ($2k grant recipient)

"Watchung School has an overgrown inner courtyard, ripe for becoming a thriving outdoor classroom. The Connected Courtyard project will turn the space into a native plant garden, bird and beneficial insect habitat, and outdoor classroom with STEAM centers. Drury Thorp, the schools STEAM and environmental science teacher, and parent volunteer, Sarah Paulsen, crafted the vision for this project and submitted the grant to Sustainable Jersey for Schools. Their Green Team, including the Montclair Garden Club and Twig and Vine Design worked together on the landscape design. Whether collaborating on STEAM projects to solve real world problems, hosting a community speaker series, or learning about the interdependence of species, Watchung School's Connected Courtyard will be a place for students and the community to connect with the natural world in meaningful ways.” -Drury Thorp, STEAM and Environmental Science Teacher, Watchung Elementary School, Montclair Public Schools, Essex County ($10k grant recipient)

"We are so pleased and thankful for the awarding of this grant from Sustainable Jersey Schools. Not only does it represent a vital alternate revenue stream; but as importantly, these grants enable the district to engage students, staff, and community partners in vital conservation work that benefits the community and represents a robust and authentic learning experience for our students.” -Dr. Scott Cascone, Superintendent, West Orange Public Schools, Essex County ($10k grant recipient)

HUNTERDON COUNTY- Quote from Grant Recipient

“Delaware Township School is looking forward to building its Learning Garden for the students and community. We can’t wait to see students learning and exploring new ideas in an outdoor space that promotes sustainability. We hope that the space sparks an interest in understanding, caring and preserving our local environment.” -Jean Domurat, Paraprofessional, Delaware Township School District, Hunterdon County ($2k grant recipient)

MIDDLESEX COUNTY- Quotes from Grant Recipients

"We are humbled and extremely grateful to be the recipients of this $10K grant. We want to thank Sustainable Jersey Schools and the NJEA for believing in Campbell School, and for giving our Green Team, staff and students the resources we need to put energy conservation into practice. We can’t wait for our new bicycle rack and recycling bins, and the ability to support the sustainability efforts already in place in the wonderful Borough of Metuchen!” -Brooke Kirschner, Assistant Principal and Chair of the Green Team, Campbell Elementary School, Metuchen Public School District, Middlesex County ($10k grant recipient)

“The Colonia High School community is very proud of the ongoing projects led by Mr. Atzbi and our Science Department staff and students. From Science Research, our Greenhouse and now to sustainable rain gardens on our campus, we are proud to be at the forefront of many new initiatives our students can learn from and build upon for years to come." -Kenneth D. Pace, Sr., Principal, Colonia High School, Woodbridge Township School District, Middlesex County ($10k grant recipient)

“We are excited and thankful that we are able to bring this opportunity to our school community. We look forward to seeing the positive impacts that our rain gardens will have on our local environment as well as the effects they will have on bringing awareness to our local community.”- Mr. Michael Atzbi, Science/Social Studies Department Head, Colonia High School, Woodbridge Township School District, Middlesex County ($10k grant recipient)

"James Madison Intermediate School of Edison Township is excited to accept this generous grant provided by Sustainable Jersey for Schools. The funds from this grant will replace all the original water fountains, which are over 50 years old, with new water fountains equipped with a refillable station allowing our students and staff to use reusable water bottles in place of single-use plastic bottles. The water filling stations will also allow our school community to track the number of refills so that they can see how changing to a reusable water bottle can have a long-lasting positive impact. Through this grant, James Madison Intermediate School can help spread awareness of the importance of sustainability and teach our students how to help reduce their carbon footprint.” -Donna Abatemarco, Principal, James Madison Intermediate School, Edison Township Public Schools, Middlesex County ($10k grant recipient)

MONMOUTH COUNTY- Quotes from Grant Recipients

"We are so excited and honored to receive this grant from Sustainable Jersey for Schools and NJEA. We are the first elementary school to implement the Little Sistahs in the Know program and we are looking forward to the impact it will have on our school community. The Little Sistahs in the Know program will help to promote the self-esteem and self-worth of our students of color through the various activities and culturally responsive programming while continuing to support our sustainable efforts. Thank you for all of your support!” - Jennifer Knapp, Principal, Bartle Elementary School, Highland Park School District, Monmouth County ($10k grant recipient)

"MAST recognizes the importance of creating safe and brave spaces in our classrooms and fostering inclusivity in our community. This project aims to equip staff and students with important 21st century skills to hold critical discussions surrounding our identity and learning environment.” - Clare Ng, Teacher, Marine Academy of Science & Technology, Monmouth County Vocational School District, Monmouth County ($2k grant recipient)

"The Taunton Green Team is extremely grateful to Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the NJEA for this $10,000 grant, and we are beyond excited to transform the current Computer Lab into a Makerspace! This space will provide all students with access to materials to engage in engineering, designing, exploring media, and building to create solutions to real world problems. With a focus on reusing and recycling, our materials for the space will be gathered by members of our school community. Our Makerspace will provide access to all learners and opportunities to explore concepts of sustainability in a concrete way. This space will motivate students to be future problem solvers who are aware of sustainability issues.” - Brooke Napoli, Principal and Terri Cooney, Vice Principal, Taunton Elementary School, Howell Township Public School District, Monmouth County ($10k grant recipient)

"Nature provides endless learning opportunities in academics, mind, body, and soul, and a living wall supports these connections for our George Catrambone Elementary School community. Our students will excitedly explore and discover an infinite amount from their experiences with the living wall and just as it grows each day, our students' knowledge about themselves, others, and the world will grow as well. Through the funding provided by Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the NJEA, this living wall will provide endless possibilities of learning experiences and promote our school’s culture of sustainability.” - Jessica Alonzo, Principal, George Catrambone Elementary School, Long Branch Public School District, Monmouth County ($10k grant recipient)

OCEAN COUNTY- Quotes from Grant Recipients

"The National Corn Growers Association is proud to partner with teachers like Christine Girtain, through our Nourish the Future program. We know that her enthusiasm and passion for research and teaching will help inspire other teachers to think about how they can incorporate real plant science research in their classrooms to help students understand the importance of agriculture.” -Robyn Allscheid, Director of Research & Productivity, National Corn Growers Association (Toms River - High School South Project) ($10k grant recipient)

“The Education Research and Outreach Lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, is pleased to collaborate with Christine Girtain, an educator from the Toms River High Schools in New Jersey. This collaboration will support professional development for teachers in the region, to implement authentic research experiences in the classrooms that focus on plant and agriculture science to promote STEM interest and careers among students.” -Sandra Arango-Caro, Ph.D., Education Researcher & Program Manager, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (Toms River - High School South Project) ($10k grant recipient)

SALEM COUNTY- Quote from Grant Recipient

"Following the vision of Mrs. Vicki Palaganas with the support of the Board of Education and the district administration, Penns Grove-Carneys Point Regional Schools has developed the first environmental center in Salem County. The Aquaponics lab will incorporate another level of knowledge for our students on the production of plants in their school. This will allow students to apply what they have learned to recreate a similar environment in their homes. They will be cognizant of the importance of protecting our natural resources, improving our climate, and developing their technical skills for their future careers. The aquaponics lab embraces another aspect of science, math, and technology across the curriculum." -Dr. Zenaida Cobian, Superintendent, Penns-Grove-Carneys Point Regional School District, Salem County ($10k grant recipient)