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Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant awards spring 2023
From left to right, Sustainable Jersey Board of Trustees Chairperson Gary Sondermeyer; Toms River Regional Schools Supervisor of Educational Technology Tiffany Lucey; NJEA Field Representative for Organizational Development Mike Rollins; Intermediate East teacher Michael Roskey; Toms River Education Association President Scott Campbell; and Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randy Solomon celebrate Intermediate East's grant award during a ceremony March 29.

April 3, 2023—Intermediate East was awarded a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Eleven $10,000 grants and thirty-five $2,000 grants were distributed to support a variety of projects including aquaponics systems, outdoor classrooms, pollinator and edible gardens, water bottle refilling stations, sustainability and STEAM education, food waste and composting initiatives, social emotional learning equipment, school green team capacity building and more.

The school’s award-winning project aims to take its Rocket Retreat Room to the next level, to improve social and emotional skills such as self-regulation, communication, and problem-solving addressing the whole child's needs.

“This Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant, and the Rocket Retreat Room it will help create, is going to have a huge impact on our students,” said Toms River Intermediate East Principal Bryan Madigan. “Our school culture and climate is built upon relationships, empowering leadership, and communication, and this funding will provide us the opportunity to forge a physical space to cultivate those core elements. On behalf of Intermediate East, we’re extremely grateful to Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the NJEA for allowing us to turn the dream of the Rocket Retreat Room into reality.”

With this grant cycle, the NJEA has now provided $2 million to support a sustainable future for children across the state through the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program.

“This is an important program that directs resources into our schools and NJEA is proud to continue to work with Sustainable Jersey,” said NJEA President Sean Spiller. “Our job is to help and support this new generation as they continue to become engaged citizens and leaders. By emphasizing the value of sustainability and healthy practices, which often go hand-in-hand with economic efficiencies, we help ensure that we leave a better world for our children’s children.”

The district has been hugely successful within the NJEA-funded grant cycles for Sustainable Jersey for Schools, having earned a $10k-level grant in four of the past year years, for projects ranging from outdoor classrooms to authentic science research.

“These grants are designed to jump start sustainability projects that will have a far-reaching impact focused on New Jersey and our school communities,” said Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon. “We applaud the schools and districts ready to implement these innovative sustainability projects and thank NJEA for providing the crucial financial support that will allow these visionary ideas to come to life.”

Proposals were judged by an independent Blue-Ribbon Selection Committee.

The focus of Intermediate East’s Rocket Retreat Room is on developing relationship skills so students can utilize positive communication and prevent and resolve interpersonal conflict in constructive ways. The grant will help provide the room with the resources to meet that mission, including paint and décor to improve the space, plus field trips and supplies for community-based activities centered around the room.

About Sustainable Jersey for Schools

Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a certification program for public schools in New Jersey. It was launched by Sustainable Jersey, an organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward municipalities and schools as they pursue sustainability programs. To date, 1,083 schools are participating in the program. Visit the Participating Districts and Schools webpage to see the full list of participating and certified schools and school districts. Sustainable Jersey for Schools has awarded over $2.8 million in grants to schools and school districts.

To learn more about Sustainable Jersey for Schools, visit: www.sustainablejerseyschools.com.

About the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)

NJEA is the state’s largest association of education professionals, representing over 200,000 elementary and secondary teachers, administrators, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, retirees, and students preparing to become teachers. To learn more about NJEA, visit www.njea.org.