By Donna Drewes and Randall Solomon
Nearly 90 applications were submitted for the 31 available Sustainable Jersey Small Grants this year. Needless to say, it was not an easy job to pick the winners from the stacks of innovative proposals submitted by towns across New Jersey– so we’re glad we didn’t have to do it.
The winners were picked by an independent selection committee composed of nine, uncompensated experts and public figures from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, the Citizens’ Campaign, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Future, Rutgers University and PSE&G. Sustainable Jersey is a partnership that has evolved and been built on the contributions and talents of many. The grant review committee is another example of this open collaboration that has contributed to the overall success of Sustainable Jersey.
At a time when funding for innovative ideas is constrained, Sustainable Jersey grants enable some of the best projects from throughout New Jersey to serve as models for other towns across the country. We got great feedback from the selection committee:
Julie Lange Groth, the Sustainable Communities Project Director for the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions told us that, “even though it’s an extremely challenging time for municipalities, there is obviously no shortage of optimism, enthusiasm and a can-do attitude among New Jersey communities for becoming more sustainable. The great diversity and creativity reflected in the grant applications is a very hopeful sign for the future of our state.”
Peter Kasabach, the Executive Director of New Jersey Future said that “as the state’s smart growth policy organization, we are always looking for new ways to link regional and state-level land-use goals with local actions. Sustainable Jersey is a great bridge. While reviewing the funding applications, it was uplifting to see towns proposing form-based codes, Complete Streets and climate action plans – all activities that focus on improving the economy, the environment and community quality of life today and for future generations.”
“The Sustainable Jersey Small Grants give New Jersey’s municipalities the opportunity to take important first steps toward sustainability. These grants help communities take actions that are often innovative and inspiring, such as the installation of small wind systems and electric charging stations for vehicles. Reviewing grant proposals is one of many roles the DEP plays in encouraging the success of this important program,” said Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., Assistant Commissioner, Economic Growth and Green Energy, for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Walmart Stores Inc. and the New Jersey League of Municipalities’ Education Foundation established the Sustainable Jersey™ Small Grants Program in 2009. This is the third year that Walmart has funded the grants program, bringing their total contribution over three years to $545,000.
The 2011 Sustainable Jersey Small Grant winners will be announced at the New Jersey League of Municipalities annual conference on Tuesday, November 15, right before the third annual Sustainable Jersey awards luncheon. Join us for this big event, visit the Sustainable Jersey events page.
Images courtesy Sustainable Jersey
Sustainable Jersey staff and partners are regular contributors to the Dodge blog.