Sustainable Jersey: Tilting windmills, why not build one instead?

Posted on by Randall Solomon, Executive Director, Sustainable Jersey

SJ grants

Funding now available for municipal and school sustainability projects

Do you have a wild idea or project with potential that needs funding? Sustainable Jersey’s grant program funds sustainability initiatives in New Jersey—projects like the wind turbine at Cape May City Elementary School, the plastic bag reduction campaign in Highland Park and the creative assets inventory in Jersey City.

Nearly 700 grants, across every New Jersey county, have been distributed since the program began in 2009. Sustainable Jersey grants are awarded to projects that cover the spectrum of our sustainability actions, so think arts, diversity and equity, and health and wellness in addition to the more commonly thought of environmental categories.

Currently, the Sustainable Jersey Grants Program has $300,000 in grant money available. The PSEG Foundation is contributing $200,000 to support this grants program cycle for municipalities and $100,000 to support a grants program cycle for schools.

  • The municipal cycle will award four (4) $20,000, eight (8) $10,000 and twenty (20) $2,000 grants to support efforts related to Sustainable Jersey actions.  For more information, click HEREThe application deadline is Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 11:59 PM.
  • The schools cycle will award four (4) $10,000 grants to school districts or schools, and thirty (30) $2,000 grants to support efforts related to Sustainable Jersey for Schools actions.  For more information, click HERE. The application deadline is Friday, February 9, 2018 at 11:59 PM.

Projects funded in past years include electric vehicle charging stations, an organic curbside waste program, wind turbines, an energy efficiency education program for low-income residents, school food composting centers and community gardens. Here are two examples of grant projects that were funded recently.

Water Street Park: Wildlife Habitat Development, Hunterdon County

Clinton Town has a new reason to look forward to spring this year. In 2017, Clinton Town was awarded a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey grant funded by the PSEG Foundation to expand and improve the natural ecosystems and sustainability of Water Street Park. This spring, the park will be in full bloom after last year’s hard work to create a wildlife sanctuary for birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

SJ grants 2

The Clinton Conservancy and more than one hundred volunteers worked tirelessly on completing the gardens at Water Street Park by planting 20 trees and shrubs, 29 wildflower plants, over 270 grasses, ferns and perennials and over 1,400 flower bulbs.

Clinton Presbyterian Church volunteers removed a years’ worth of branches, trash and mountains of leaves. The Boy Scouts planted the river’s edge with grasses and perennials while Clinton Green Team, Country Garden Club and Conservancy members planted trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers. Clinton Fire Department watered the park and the Girl Scouts planted most of the bulbs with the help of the Conservancy and Country Garden Club members. The Sierra Club, Clinton Presbyterian Church volunteers, Country Garden Club, and Conservancy members planted a large monarch waystation/butterfly garden at the far end of Water Street Park.

The long-term goal is for the area to serve as an official site for collecting and reporting data on bird and butterfly counts and migration. The green team also hopes to increase local awareness and appreciation for critical habitats. We look forward to seeing the photos this spring.

SJ grants 3

Toms River High School South to Discover the Microbes Within

Did you know that humans consist of approximately 10 percent human cells and 90 percent prokaryotic cells, yet the idea of studying the relationships between eukaryotic hosts and prokaryotic symbionts is largely ignored in introductory biology classes? Well, we’re glad that the teachers at Toms River High School South have a firm grasp of this concept.

To support their work, Sustainable Jersey for Schools awarded Toms River High School South a $10,000 grant funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). The school will partner with the Bordenstein Lab at Vanderbilt University to provide a team of rising 11th and 12th grade Authentic Science Research (ASR) students the opportunity to participate in the Wolbachia Summer Research Project. This project is a local and international initiative to contribute to the national Wolbachia database. It will teach high school students about managing mosquito populations using techniques that use molecular/microbiology.

The Bordenstein Lab will provide online technical assistance and research materials to the school. This research could provide a sustainable means of managing mosquito population through biological pest control that could eventually contribute to a decline in New Jersey mosquito populations and the spread of Dengue and Zika viruses.

Principal James Ricotta Jr. explained, “The Toms River Regional School Authentic Science Research (ASR) program encourages the spirit of discovery through hands-on learning using the scientific method, and the Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant will provide teacher training, equipment purchasing and allow the underclassmen in ASR to collect and analyze data from the Wolbachia Summer Research Project. The Wolbachia Summer Research Project will help students begin to establish the local frequency of the parasitic bacteria Wolbachia in our insect population, and increase career readiness in a lab setting.”

Good Grant Proposals

The Sustainable Jersey grant proposals are judged by an independent Blue-Ribbon Selection Committee. The grant proposals that score the highest strongly reflect the evaluation criteria. Two informational webinars were held to review the online application process, requirements and tips for successful applications.

  • Sustainable Jersey Municipal Grants Webinar: View the recording and presentation HERE
  • Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grants Webinar: View the recording and presentation HERE
  • Sustainable Jersey Grant Tips Presentation: View the presentation HERE

We look forward to the completion of these projects and the ongoing efforts of these municipalities and schools in making a more sustainable New Jersey.


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