At an event held on December 3, Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) announced that Unity Charter School has been awarded a $10,000  Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant. These grants will support school and district projects that link student learning and sustainability efforts to school rain gardens, outdoor learning classrooms, a winter greenhouse, an aquaponics system, native habitat gardens, sustainability curriculum and more.

“It was a great honor to receive this grant” said Jennifer Carcich, the gardening and beautification coordinator for Unity Charter School.  “The new community garden, to which this grant will be applied, will add the benefit of more accessible outdoor space which helps teach the students and community about organic farming, healthy choices and to make connections with a culturally diverse population.”

These grants are funded by NJEA, which has partnered with Sustainable Jersey for Schools to provide over $180,000 to qualifying schools and districts.

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“NJEA is proud to work with Sustainable Jersey on this important program that directs resources into our schools,” said NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Sean Spiller. “It is our job to help create a new generation of engaged citizens and leaders. By emphasizing the value of sustainability, we also help ensure that we leave a better world for our students.”

Earlier this year, Sustainable Jersey formed an underwriting partnership with NJEA. In addition to funding this cycle of the grant program, NJEA provides in-kind support through research and technical expertise. Sustainable Jersey for Schools is supported by 12 issue-based task forces that help develop and update the certification actions. NJEA’s leadership and members serve on Sustainable Jersey task forces and over 137 districts and 328 schools are currently participating in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program.

“We know that schools and districts are in the best position to determine the needs for their schools,” said Donna Drewes, who co-directs Sustainable Jersey with Randall Solomon. “These NJEA-funded grants will allow school communities to come together to improve outcomes for students, teachers and the environment. Collaboration is key, and we are proud to have support from important strategic partners like NJEA.”

Proposals were judged 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.

“As a school leader it’s wonderful to see teachers take learning well beyond the classroom walls for our students.  Jennifer Carcich and Alyssa Farber did just that in applying and receiving this grant.  Their ideas about healthy and sustainable living won’t just be textbook ideas they’ll be real experiential learning opportunities for their students and for the commUnity”, said Connie Sanchez, Executive Director. 

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, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward municipalities and schools as they pursue sustainability programs.  To learn more, visit

About NJEA

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