Sustainable Jersey Announces $100,000 for 26 School Projects Statewide

on Apr 25, 2018

Grant awards, funded by the PSEG Foundation, support integrating sustainability into student learning experiences

Sustainable Jersey today announced the awarding of $100,000 to support 26 sustainability projects in schools and districts across the state. The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grants, funded by the PSEG Foundation, include six $10,000 grants and twenty $2,000 grants. The grants will fund a recycling program for Newark Public School District, after-school garden clubs at Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, filtered water bottle filling stations at Christopher Columbus Middle School in the City of Clifton, a pollinator garden at Richard E. Byrd Elementary in Glen Rock, a recycling campaign to reduce the number of single-use plastic water bottles at Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School in Verona and much more.

“It’s a great honor to support schools and school districts that are doing the important work of integrating sustainability into student learning around the state. These projects have a significant impact on New Jersey’s sustainability goals and will directly benefit the students,” commented Randall Solomon, the executive director of Sustainable Jersey. He extended his congratulations to all of the schools and districts that received grants.

The PSEG Foundation has contributed over one million dollars in funding to the Sustainable Jersey Grants Program. “We are proud to partner with Sustainable Jersey, an organization bringing about real positive change for our state, to support and help fund projects that provide sustainable neighborhoods, economic development and STEM education. By supporting sustainable education in schools, we can help guide children and engage entire communities in the ways to help transform the environment,” said Barb Short, president of the PSEG Foundation.


  • Six $10,000 Grant Recipients: Christopher Columbus Middle School, Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, Newark Public School District, Toms River Regional School District, Whiting Elementary School and Wildwood City School District.
  • Twenty $2,000 Grant Recipients:  Cape May County High School, Community Middle School, Cranbury School, Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School, High Mountain Middle School, Kings Road Elementary School, Lawrence Middle School, Lucy N. Holman Elementary, Memorial Elementary School, Middle Township High School, Ocean Academy , Richard E. Byrd Elementary School, Clifton Public School 9, Slackwood Elementary School, Tabernacle Elementary School, Thomas Edison Energysmart Charter School, Toms River High School South, Wilson Primary Center, Winslow Township School No. 5 Elementary School and Woodbine Elementary School.

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 300 districts and 745 schools have registered to work toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification.

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


Grant Recipient



Cape May

Wildwood City School District

Wildwood City

Warrior Fresh Farm to Table Program: Will add a greenhouse to the existing outdoor garden to extend the growing season and expand student learning opportunities, particularly for the environmental science and culinary arts classes. The greenhouse will support the Warrior Fresh Farm to Table program and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers’ after-school and summer programs.


Newark Public School District


GO Green Recycling Program:  Will implement Newark GO Green, a district-wide recycling program for paper, plastic and milk cartons. This hands-on interdisciplinary approach will be piloted in four schools and will educate students about the environment, personal responsibility, community action and solid waste management.


Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District

Middlesex County Vocational and Technical

After School Garden Clubs: Will start after-school garden clubs for high school students to support existing outdoor gardens at two campuses: Piscataway and East Brunswick. Will partner with Rutgers Cooperative Extension to install a rain cistern at the East Brunswick campus and educate students on how to garden.



Toms River Regional School District

Toms River Regional

Play It Again, Toms River: Will rehabilitate musical instruments that have fallen into disrepair and can no longer be used by students. Once rehabilitated, the newly fixed instruments will increase equitable access to the music program for students who would like to play an instrument but would otherwise not be able to rent or buy one due to financial constraints.


Whiting Elementary School

Manchester Township

Wildcat Wilderness Workspace: Will build a sustainable outdoor classroom complete with a permeable surface and a rain collection system created with help from Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The outdoor classroom will be used to teach students about sustainability and serve as a place to host community activities.


Christopher Columbus Middle School

Clifton Public Schools

Wise Up with Water: Will ensure access to clean, safe drinking water for the school community by installing nine filtered water bottle filling stations throughout the school building, which will limit the school's dependence on plastic, educate students on the importance of clean water and reduce plastic bottle usage.


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


Recipient School

School District

Project Title


Richard E. Byrd Elementary

Glen Rock

Pollinator Garden: Will construct a pollinator garden native plant oasis to serve as an outdoor classroom for the school and broader community.


Tabernacle Elementary

Tabernacle Township

H2-GO Water Station: Will launch a recycling initiative to reduce the number of single-use plastic water bottles in the waste stream.


School No. 5 Elementary

Winslow Township

STEM Education Kits: Will increase student exposure to engineering, coding, robotics and circuitry through the purchase of STEM education kits to enhance the 6th grade STEM curriculum.

Cape May

Cape May County High

Cape May County Special Services

Farm to Table Back Porch Café: Will purchase aeroponic gardens to supplement the science curriculum and use the produce grown in the Back Porch Cafe Restaurant Class. The Cafe is open to the school staff and the public. The students in this class are responsible for creating the menu, preparing and cooking the food and serving guests.

Cape May

Middle Township High

Middle Township

Improving School Culture and Climate: Will complete a School Culture and Climate Assessment, which will involve an inventory of the school's programs and practices; a survey of student, staff and parent perceptions of school culture and climate; and focus groups with key stakeholders in the community. The assessment will lead to the creation of a School Culture and Climate Improvement Plan.

Cape May

Ocean Academy

Cape May County Special Services

"Waste Wisely" Campaign: Will develop an educational campaign to improve the recycling program after performing and analyzing data from waste audits.

Cape May

Woodbine Elementary


Edible Garden: Will create an edible garden to connect the school and community with sustainable gardening practices and show the benefits of locally grown food.


Henry B. Whitehorne Middle


Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Program: Will launch a recycling campaign to reduce the number of single-use plastic water bottles in the waste stream. The campaign will include additional recycling receptacles for the cafeteria in an effort to increase recycling rates.


Community Middle

West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional

Reduce and Reuse Education Center: Will create a reduce and reuse education center to host a new student-generated exhibit each month that focuses on an aspect of sustainability. The center will include a water bottle refilling station where students can congregate and discuss what they learned.


Lawrence Middle

Lawrence Township

Green Team Achievers: Will coordinate green team activities among the district's Secondary schools to achieve silver-level Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification. Each school will construct a Sustainable School Portfolio to collaborate with one another and track progress.


Slackwood Elementary

Lawrence Township

Green Team Achievers: Will coordinate green team activities among the district's Secondary schools to achieve silver-level Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification. Each school will construct a Sustainable School Portfolio to collaborate with one another and track progress.



Cranbury Township

After School Garden Club: Will use aquaponics gardening equipment to start an after-school Garden Club so that students can experience the real-life connection between farming and food by exploring what is necessary to grow the food we eat. Produce will be used in the cafeteria and transported to the neighborhood food bank.


Kings Road Elementary


Interactive Garden: Will fund students to research and create plant identification signs for the school garden. Students will be able to take home garden kits so that they can share what they've learned with their families.


Lucy N. Holman Elementary

Jackson Township

Eliminating Plastic Bottles at Lunch: Will launch an educational campaign to reduce the number of single-use plastic water bottles in the waste stream during the lunch period.


Toms River High School South

Toms River Regional

Pollinator Gardens: Will create pollinator gardens to act as a breeding ground and migratory path for a variety of species, including bees and Monarch butterflies, at several Toms River Schools and on the property of the BASF Corporation. The AP Environmental Science students will do the work. While the pollinator gardens are being built, elementary school students will test the best growing mediums for the plants garden indoors.


High Mountain Middle

North Haledon

Increasing Recycling Efforts: Will launch a recycling campaign to increase recycling rates through education and outreach strategies.


Memorial Elementary

North Haledon

Recycling Awareness: Will launch a recycling campaign to increase recycling rates through education and outreach strategies.


School 9


Outdoor Classroom: Will create an outdoor classroom for students to develop an awareness of planting, maintaining and growing a garden using a compost system.


Thomas Edison Energysmart Charter School

Thomas Edison Energysmart Charter

Raised Bed Garden: Will create and maintain a raised garden bed that will produce flowers as well as vegetables to be used for various school events. The students will be responsible for preparing the soil, taking care of the plants and harvesting the crops. This program will help students understand where food comes from and the benefits of locally-grown produce.


Wilson Primary Center


School Garden: Will transform an overgrown area into a school garden that will act as an extension of classroom learning, a hands-on science experience for students and an opportunity for teachers to provide real life experiences in planning, preparing, tending and harvesting a garden.


Quotes from Select $10,000 Grant Recipients (alphabetical by New Jersey County)

“The Wildwood School District is extremely pleased to be awarded the Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant.  The grant will enable us to bring our plans for a greenhouse to fruition which will greatly enhance the urban garden already in place at Wildwood High School/Middle School as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers after school program.  Because of student interest, the garden has grown from a few boxes to 15 student built raised beds, yielding enough crops to create a farm to table program within the high school's culinary program.  The current program is limited by the growing season, so we are excited that the addition of the greenhouse will allow our students to participate year-round in the garden program, and to expand their knowledge through the inclusion of hydroponics and other new technologies in horticulture.” –Josepha Penrose, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction, Wildwood City School District, Cape May County


“Newark Public Schools is excited to receive this grant and begin the work of our Newark Go Green recycling project.  We view this grant as a catalyst for schools in our district to work and make strides towards sustainability.”—Michelina Thornton, Grants Director, Newark Public School District, Essex County


"This generation of students will require leaders and citizens who can think environmentally, understand the interconnectedness of human and natural systems, and have the resolve, skill, and resolution to act. At Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District (MCVTS), students will practice the arts of citizenship while improving the lives of their homeless neighbors. MCVTS plans to operate two 2500 square foot gardens over the summer and donate all fruits and vegetables to Feeding Middlesex County which is a non-profit organization that distributes food to 100 emergency food pantries. At MCVTS, we want to find solutions to problems of sustainable living by making teaching and learning more meaningful and create a more hopeful future for our community.” --Tracey Maccia, Ed.D., Director of Special Services, Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, Middlesex County


"Music and the arts is not an afterthought in our district, but a crucial part of our curriculum and, in this case, an innovative way to integrate sustainable principles. We are so excited to see how our elementary students respond to this program, and how it will positively affect their learning experience in the short and long-term.” --Cara DiMeo, Director of K-5 Curriculum, Toms River Regional School District, Ocean County


“The level of support for our schools exhibited by Sustainable Jersey has been nothing short of remarkable. It’s clear that our environmental, energy-efficient, and sustainable initiatives align with their mission, and they’ve helped make it possible for our schools and educational leaders to implement innovative projects that will impact our students for years to come. We are sincerely grateful to Sustainable Jersey and the PSEG Foundation for recognizing and endorsing what we’re doing here in Toms River, both in spirit and through tangible means.” --David Healy, Superintendent, Toms River Regional School District, Ocean County


“We are very excited and honored to be awarded a Sustainable Jersey Grant for our Whiting Elementary School.  This grant will allow us to create an outdoor classroom which will benefit our students’ overall development and engagement in school and give our staff at Whiting Elementary the opportunity to teach students using hands-on experiments that will engage all learning styles. Bringing learning outdoors, in a project-based environment is a fun way to nurture our students’ natural inquiry and develop their higher-level thinking skills.  This project enhances their exposure and interactions with science and math thereby igniting passion for these disciplines. I would like to commend our Principal Evelyn Swift and teachers Christopher Titmas and Natalie Baranyay for their efforts in preparing this grant which will greatly benefit our students.”--David Trethaway, Superintendent, Manchester Township School District, Ocean County


“Christopher Columbus Middle School is very honored to be a recipient of a 2018 Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant. The outcomes of this project will enhance the drinking water for our student population, staff and community. Our students will be educated about the conservation of water and understand the importance of water to themselves, others and our planet.  It will promote a healthy lifestyle to choose clean filtered water verses sugary drinks. Some of the allocated monies will help us to purchase safe reusable water bottles for our student population and to educate students about using bottle refilling stations and refillable bottles to help reduce waste. Thank you so very much for this wonderful opportunity.” -Dr. Francine Parker, Principal, Christopher Columbus Middle School, Clifton Public Schools, Passaic County


Quotes from Select $2,000 Grant Recipients (alphabetical by New Jersey County)

“Creating an extracurricular program such as an Aquaponics club for students in grades 3 through 5 will offer students the opportunity to harvest the crops after school hours and become active donors to our local food bank, helping children and families in need.  The grant will provide a stipend for a club advisor, who will facilitate the club and engage learners in community service.” --Dr. Linda Weber, Principal, Richard E. Byrd Elementary School, Glen Rock Public School District, Bergen County


“The Winslow Township School District is committed to incorporating STEM education into our curriculum. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to expose our students at Winslow Township Elementary School 5 to more advanced engineering design concepts through the use of the STEM education kits which this funding will provide. This project is another step toward achieving our Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification and we are grateful to Sustainable Jersey for their funding support.”—H. Major Poteat Ed.D, Superintendent, Winslow Township Elementary School 5, Winslow Township School District, Camden County


“Cape May County Special Services School District is very excited to receive a Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant for both of our schools.  These funds will allow us to enhance our programs and teach important concepts to our students who will have fun in the process!  Because all of our students have special needs, it is vital to actively engage them in authentic projects in order to truly learn about sustainability practices. In Cape May County High School our students will learn about aeroponics gardening, and actually grow food that will be prepared in our Back Porch Café Restaurant Occupations Program.  This is a true farm to table initiative!  At the elementary level our Ocean Academy students will use math, reading and science skills to dive in and conduct waste audits, compile data, document and make recommendations to improve our recycling program.” --Barbara J. Makoski, Superintendent, Cape May County Special Services School District, Cape May County


"Middle Township High School would like to thank Sustainable Jersey and the PSEG Foundation for their generous grant for $2000. We look forward to getting our green team off the ground and running.  The grant will be used to enhance and sustain the climate/culture of our building.” --George West, Principal, Middle Township High School, Middle Township Public School District, Cape May County


"HB Whitehorne Middle School in Verona is grateful to the program sponsors for granting us this award. The funds will be used to further our goal of eliminating single use plastic water bottles in our school.” --Carol Thomas, Teacher/Green Team Member, Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School, Verona Public School District, Essex County


"Since registering with Sustainable Jersey for Schools and subsequently having all seven schools earn bronze certification, our students and staff have sharpened their focus on being more respectful of our environment. Receiving various Sustainable Jersey Grants has allowed us to strengthen our sustainability efforts across the district.” --Andrew Zuckerman, Ed.D., Acting Superintendent, Lawrence Township Public School District, Mercer County


“An exciting educational initiative that connects tradition with innovation is our Aquaponics program. Cranbury Township is a participant in the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program and has placed over 2,000 acres in permanently preserved farmland. Aquaponics, the combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics, provides opportunities for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) education through integrated active learning in a continually evolving learning laboratory.  Through this project-based experience embedded during the school day, our students have become environmental stewards by connecting with their peers around the world and exploring a variety of ecosystems as well as gaining a deep understanding of food deserts where fresh produce is difficult to grow.” --Susan Shiffman, Enrichment Specialist, Cranbury School, Cranbury Township School District, Middlesex County


“The Kings Road School community in the Madison School District is thrilled about receiving the $2000 grant. Kings Road School received the bronze recognition in October of 2017 and is honored to receive the additional support from Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the sponsors so that we may continue to complete the Green initiatives work within our school community. Engaging and educating the children in our schools and communities is critical to the future of our planet and the lives of those in the present and future. Sustainable Jersey for Schools is the organization that leads and supports us as we continue to sustain and grow our green initiatives. Thank you all so much!!!!”—Kathleen Koop, Principal, Kings Road Elementary School, Madison Public School District, Morris County


"Holman Elementary School, in Jackson, New Jersey, is honored to be a recipient of a $2,000 grant from Sustainable Jersey for Schools, funded by the PSEG Foundation. We look forward to installing water bottle filling stations in the school for staff and students. By allowing staff and students the opportunity to fill reusable water containers, we hope to reduce the consumption of water in plastic bottles. The Holman School will also track the amount of water used in each station to calculate the number of plastic bottles that may have been used.  We are excited to move forward with our school’s sustainability efforts.” --Richard Karas, Principal, Lucy N. Holman Elementary School, Jackson Township School District, Ocean County


"Educating our K-12 students about the importance of pollination and protecting endangered species are vital to empowering our students to solve real-life environmental problems. Educators like James Luyster are to be commended for sharing their concern for the environment and creating authentic learning experiences for our students.” --James Ricotta Jr., Principal, Toms River High School South, Toms River Regional School District, Ocean County


"Ms. Belfando, Ms. Fitzpatrick, and Mr. Rascher are honored to receive this grant to create an outdoor learning environment for the students of School 9 in Clifton, NJ.  This grant will help provide a safe, educational space for the students to develop an awareness of planting, maintaining, and growing plants and vegetables using a compost system. This beautiful outdoor learning environment will not only benefit the current students of School 9 but educate many students for years to come.” --Megan Fitzpatrick, Special Education Teacher, School 9, Clifton Public Schools, Passaic County


"This award is such a great boost to our green team, and we are very much appreciative of the support Sustainable Jersey for Schools has given us. Through this grant, we will be able to get our school garden off and running. Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School (TEECS) is a tuition-free, K­-12, public school that has taken the pledge to “Go Green”. Every day, we strive to reduce the impact that our school has on the environment through sustainable practices. We may be a local school but we are taking a global stance on sustainability - PSEG granted, TEECS landed, GARDEN sprouted!” -- Jignasha Patel, Green Team Secretary and Jeannette Allison, Green Team Record Keeper & Community Outreach Officer, Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School, Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School District, Somerset County


"The Primary Center at Wilson is an early childhood center with grades PreK through Kindergarten including students with different abilities. Through the generous award of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant and, in collaboration with other community resources, we will be completing an outdoor classroom garden project. Our youngest learners will be exposed to healthy living through planting and harvesting produce. This highly engaging, developmentally appropriate experience will highlight sustainable gardening practices encouraging life-long, healthy eating habits.” --Janice H. Tierney, Principal, Wilson Primary Center, Summit Public Schools, Union County