Education Grants Address Climate Change

By ecoRI News staff

Four Massachusetts organizations were recently awarded a total of $275,332 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for programs that will educate communities about climate change and other environmental issues.

“These organizations are doing just the kind of work that is so important for the future of our environment,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Projects that introduce youth, educators and communities to the problems and the possibilities of environmental protection and climate adaptation are bound to help us develop solutions for a well-protected and healthy New England environment.”

The agency’s Environmental Education grants encourage projects that educate members of a community through community-based organizations, or through print, film, broadcast or other media, to be more environmentally aware. EPA funds environmental education projects that focus on educating teachers, students, parents or the general public about human health problems.

These issues include pollution, improving teaching tools and techniques for educators through workshops, building state or local capability to develop and deliver environmental education or public outreach programs, and promoting environmental careers and stewardship among students through hands-on activities.

Here is the list of Massachusetts programs chosen for funding:

Greenagers Inc. in Great Barrington was awarded $36,700 for a two-year project called “Crafting the Landscape.” Greenagers will work with two middle schools and a cooperative grocery store in an after-school and summer environmental education project. About 100 underserved youth will work with their forests, watersheds and local agriculture by creating virtual communities and environmental goals in the video game, Minecraft, and translating these goals into service projects in the community. The projects will focus on climate change, toxics and water protection. Students are expected to receive nearly 200 hours of program time and contribute about 40 hours of community service.

“e” inc. of Boston was awarded $88,000 for a one-year project called “Afterschool Planet Protector Teams.” The organization partners with community centers and local schools to provide weekly after-school programs that educate urban youth about environmental science. The 33-week program includes 540 kindergarten to fifth-graders. Each site selects a curriculum topic related to the environment and the weekly session entails hands-on science activities aligned with state and Next Generation Science Standards. Students learn to make a difference on their topic and create short videos about their projects.

New England Environmental Alliance of Devens was awarded $81,000 for a 1.5-year project called “Advancing Climate Change Education in New England.” This projects creates eight coordinated summits designed for environmental and educational professionals and organizations to expand and improve climate-change education in New England. Summits will be held in each New England state, along with two regional conferences. Each state intends to focus its climate-change education summit to a specific topic, such as climate-change communication, the language of climate change, behavior change, climate resilience in schools and communities, building climate-change education. More than a thousand professionals are expected to attend these combined summits.

Massachusetts Audubon Society of Lincoln was awarded $69,632 for a two-year project called “Building Climate Action Communities.” This project will create a regional model for working climate change into training and project planning. Connecticut Audubon Society and Audubon Society of Rhode Island will partner in this project. This project also works with a handful of community organizations looking at ways to integrate the study of regional ecosystems and the effects of climate change on local plants, wildlife and people. Staff from the three Audubon chapters and community organizations will be trained regarding climate-change science and communication. The chapters will be putting in place more than 40 pilot programs across the region focused on integrating climate literacy into existing informal environmental educational programs that reach nearly 1,000 people. Community organizations will be putting in place about 30 programs expected to reach nearly 600 people.

Urban classrooms
A New Haven, Conn., organization that will educate students at five urban high schools through outdoor classrooms was awarded $76,668.

The New Haven Ecology Project was given the funding for a two-year project called “TEACH CITY,” which will help the schools turn their city into a classroom. Students will address issues related to urban waters, air quality, toxins and other environmental issues. Each high school will identify a project with its most pressing environmental challenges and a strategy to fulfill the community project. Each high school will host a visit with other participating high schools to learn about each other’s projects.