Community Recycling Grant Application Finalists

Please review the projects below that have been selected as our finalists. Vote for up to three that you think are most deserving of the $1500 community recycling grant.

Our project is the construction of cold composting bins for re-use of green waste from the gardens at Rancho Romero Elementary School. We would use the grant to purchase materials for the construction of compost bins, composting tools and signage to demonstrate, guide and advise on composting green waste. The prominently placed bins and signage would teach our school and larger Alamo community about the benefits of cold composting used as a garden amendment.

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The grant would be used to fund the purchase of re-usable sets of items (quarterly waste audit supplies), reusable lunch bags (instead of disposable brown paper bags), reusable water bottles with the Foothill Middle School and Environmentally Concerned Kids (ECK) logos, Foothill Middle School stickers (extrinsic rewards to encourage and support students as they transition toward more recycling, composting, and reducing their landfill waste during school hours and at home), and gardening tools to improve our school-yard garden so that it can become an organic edible school-yard garden by 2020.

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Walnut Creek Intermediate is ready to take care of the environment. Students are very involved in tending our school garden, and we will use this grant to make student awareness, knowledge and experience a real-life, hands-on reality. Grant funds will be used to purchase materials for promoting recycling awareness, composting materials, planting for the fall, garden tools, soil, worms, composting bins and educational materials for students, lunch staff, and administration. Glass jars are also needed for each classroom so that students may investigate how commonly used items break down. Trips for students to be able to visit a recycling facility would be a major plus too!

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The OA Eco Team members work as advocates for environmental wellbeing around our community and school. We would will use the grant money to support current projects, in order to keep our school as green as possible. Our most recent project is to build compost bins for our school, and to educate the students about the effect of composting. Other projects include fundraising for a school dishwasher and reusable utensils, and solar panel installation for the school. We hope to spread awareness to the students and staff.

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The Walnut Acres recycle team is determined to improve environmental awareness and recycling ability on site! Planned projects will build both will and skill of all community members. Grant funds will be used to achieve goals that will otherwise be beyond the financial means of the 4th/5th grade recycle club members led by their volunteer parent facilitator. The Waste Reduction Grant will be used to fund a recycle-art project, permanent recycling bins, and documentary hosting will enhance awareness of the need for recycling; while purposeful skits, a garden compost prototype, hands-on water reclamation lessons, and opportunities to create sand filters will increase community expertise protecting the environment.

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The Meher Schools will be implementing a program to collect hard-to-recycle goods. Twice a year there will be an e-waste and shoe collection drive, as well as a clothing and book swap among the school community. In addition, Terracycle bins will also be purchased for other hard-to-recycle goods, these include items that are generally thrown into the landfill. We will also be offering a few evening classes for interested community members on incorporating sustainability into the home.

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#1 - Composting at Rancho Romero

Project Description: Our project is to build compost bins that create compost to amend our garden beds and demonstrate the importance of compost for growing food. The compost will be used to build the soil in our garden beds that will grow annual produce. The compost bins will have a prominent location in a central school courtyard. The 500 students at Rancho, staff, families and community will view our system, and many will experience it firsthand as a student, teacher or volunteer.

Our school adopted the Harvest of the Month program in 2016. This monthly program highlights California grown produce and inspired a school garden program to grow the vegetables students are studying. Last year, we started a garden program with 8 garden beds. This year we have 12 garden beds for 12 classrooms. Our green garden waste currently goes in the green waste cans for removal from the school site. Our garden plan includes amending the soil with compost before every new planting season, and these composting bins will allow us to develop our own compost instead of bringing it in. We will utilize cold composting to minimize pests, and help it turn over quickly. We modeled our composting program after a local community garden, The Bounty Garden.


Project Timeline: Upon receipt of the grant, we plan to construct the compost bins within 4 months, as soon as we can arrange a workday with volunteers. The purchase of tools for chopping compost and turning compost will be purchased when the bins are complete and the signage will follow. The entire grant would fund materials and all labor will be volunteered by the community. All funds will be expended in the 2018-2019 school year.


Grant Use: We would use the grant to buy materials to construct the compost bins, tools for composting and educational signage. These products would be used for demonstration, inspiration and authentic learning experiences at a school that serves 500 students and their families, staff and administration. The ability to grow a wide variety of food locally is a benefit of living in Northern California. Through the programs we are initiating at Rancho Romero, we have the opportunity to inspire our students to take advantage of our climate and space to grow food. Composting organic material is essential for maintaining a healthy and productive growing environment. We intend to demonstrate the effective use of compact composting methods that can be adapted to individual homes - to divert valuable biomass from the landfill and use it to improve soil health for growing food.


#2 - Environmentally Concerned Kids (ECK) Club: Reach 100% waste reduction by 2020, (Silver Level) Green Ribbon Environmental Project, and edible school-yard garden with composting by 2020

Project Description: Foothill Middle School strives to be a certified (Silver Level) Green Ribbon School. A Green Ribbon School excels in resource efficiency, health & wellness, and environmental and sustainability education. The award identifies and communicates practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, workforce preparedness, and reinforces federal efforts to increase energy independence and economic security. Foothill Middle School and the ECK club are working together to achieve a (Silver Level) advancement in the three pillars of the CA Dept. of Education Green Ribbon School (GRS) goals. The pillars (goals) are Pillar I: Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs, i.e. Element IA – Energy, Element IB – Water and Grounds, Element IC – Waste, and Element ID – Alternative Transportation; Pillar II: Improve the Health and Wellness of Students and Staff, i.e. Element IIA: Environmental Health, and Element IIB: Nutrition and Fitness; and Pillar III: Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education, i.e. Element IIIA: Interdisciplinary Learning, Element IIIB: STEM Content, Knowledge, and Skills, and Element IIIC: Civic Knowledge and Skills.


Project Timeline: The project timeline spans October 2018 - December 2020 school years. Currently Foothill Middle School and the ECK club are implementing and engaging in several school-wide environmental practices. Student lunch monitors, students, staff, faculty, and administration are engaging in a campus-wide recycling, composting, and reduced landfill waste program and audit during the school day, especially during brunch and lunch and in the classrooms to track our quarterly waste. Each quarter, 4x a school year, ECK holds an after school waste audit event. The ECK students are tracking the amount of recycling, compost, and landfill once a quarter from the school brunch and lunch outdoor quad and the staff faculty lounge. The entire Foothill Middle School community is engaging in environmental and sustainable outreach and education by promoting Eck-ducation (campus education of daily activities and environmental practices). Lastly, Foothill Middle School is collaborating with the MDUSD to reduce energy waste, i.e. electrical and water waste. Foothill and MDUSD are working to reduce electrical usage around campus and the district and increase water conservation.


Grant Use: The grant would be used to fund the purchase of re-usable sets of items (quarterly waste audit supplies), "Bio-bags" (Compostable bags for teacher (8 and 10 gallon) compost bins and the 32-gallon compost bins in the brunch and lunch school-yard quad), reusable lunch bags (students could use these instead of bring their own brown bag lunches), reusable water bottles with the Foothill Middle School and ECK logos, Foothill Middle School stickers (extrinsic rewards to encourage and support students as they transition toward more recycling, composting, and reducing their landfill waste during school hours and at home), and gardening tools to improve our school-yard garden so that it can become an organic edible school-yard garden by 2020.


#3 - Green Lean Recycling Team!

Project Description: As you can see in our pictures, our garden is ready! We just need a few resources to help us get started! We have over 60 planter boxes that need planting, a composting area that needs completion, and recycling and composting bins to help us get sorting! This month, we are planning to roll-out our new agenda for collecting and sorting recyclables and compost. We plan to use school compost for our very own garden. Over time, we hope to be able to use our student manufactured compost to replenish and sustain our campus garden indefinitely. We have support from our science department, gardening clubs (devised and led by students), "green team" (also devised and led by student leadership teams), administration, our Walnut Creek Community (thank you to everyone who volunteered & participated in our community service garden beautification project on October 13th! We appreciate the support!), and Waste Busters who is helping us launch this month!


Project Timeline: Students & staff are ready to begin composting and recycling NOW! We feel a bit behind in the recycling/composting world especially when compared to Southern California's OCWR program. Elementary middle and high schools all over the OC area have implemented some type of waste and recycling program for over 10 years. It's time for our students, to have the knowledge, experience and motivation to be environmentally aware and to take pride in becoming global contributors. Our plan, is to roll out the Waste Busters recycling program this month (October). Soon afterwards, leadership teams have discussed creating a "green team" to educate & monitor students during lunch to promote student awareness and knowledge of how to properly use the bins. This will be Oct-Nov so students may transition to our new system. Also during these months, our science dept will facilitate lessons on composting and recycling to teach students how to properly sort trash. All students will participate in a lab & set up mini composting bins in mason jars and care for them through the course of several months so they can observe & decipher which items are compostable/recyclable. The garden club will plant new seeds & complete our irrigation system.


Grant Use: The garden club, science department, and all 1300 students will play a role in setting up and using our garden and composting station on a regular basis. We can use funds to purchase necessary materials for promoting recycling awareness, composting materials, planting for the fall, garden tools, soil, recycle bins, worms, composting bins and educational materials for students, lunch staff, and administration. We would also like to educate students about how to properly recycle and sort items into the right bins. Glass jars are also needed for each classroom so that students may investigate how commonly used items break down. Trips for students to be able to visit a recycling facility would be a major plus too! Walnut Creek Intermediate is the only middle school in the Walnut Creek School District, so we have the capacity to reach every middle schooler that lives in the Walnut Creek area. By not having a recycling program in place, what message our we sending our students? We need recycling and composting bins in every classroom. Right now, we do not have the resources to successfully recycle and compost. Thank you so much for your consideration. We are enthusiastically waiting for your reply! Warmest regards~


#4 - Orinda Academy Eco Team

Project Description: By spreading awareness to the student body and staff, we will create a greener atmosphere for our community. Our current project is to complete the compost bins we raised funds for last school year. There are students with backgrounds in construction and others in leadership, this helped create a team capable of making a difference. All of the construction and maintenance will be done and monitored by students.


Project Timeline: We hope the Eco Team will last and develop over the years, but for now we plan to have the compost bins finished and funds for a dishwasher by the end of this school year.


Grant Use: We would put the money towards current projects, in order to keep our school as green as possible. Our most recent project is to build compost bins for our school, and to educate the students about the effect of composting.


#5 - Promoting Conservation Awareness and Skill at Walnut Acres

Project Description: Recycle Club is determined to enhance efficiency of proper recycling, composting, and trashing at Walnut Acres. With support from Recycle Smart we are currently in the midst of that work, but it is clear more needs to be accomplished to educate the entire community. To that end, the recycle club will raise awareness of environmental needs by: 1. Developing a permanent recycle area outside of lunchroom 2. Organizing a Recycled-Art exhibit in conjunction with school Art Show 3. Creating visual media (posters etc.) to promote recycling process/events 4. Promoting/hosting a documentary, such as "Straws," to the entire feeder pattern 5. Collaborating with Foothill Middle and Northgate High recycle leaders to enhance communication strategies

The Recycle Club will increase environmental conservation skill set by: 1. Writing and presenting skits about recycling do's and don’ts based on observation of student recycling habits 2. Selecting and staging a composting prototype in the new school garden complete with visual information about the device and its usefulness 3. Supporting our business collaborators to share their water reuse prototype 4. Gathering materials for the student-made sand filters our business collaborators will help


Project Timeline: The Walnut Acres Recycle Team has recently placed recycle bins around campus and compost bins will soon be available. Now the focus is to use the bins properly while enhancing strong environmental citizenship throughout the year. The timeline is: 10/2018- Wrote/presented skit at lunches including recycle song for the occasion; working with administration to infuse recycling messages into monthly Sing-out assemblies 11/2018- Create classroom recycle games and a new skit based on observation of bin use 12/2018- Help room parents offer environmentally-friendly classroom parties 1/2019 - Host "Straws" documentary and encourage feeder pattern participation through media campaign; meet with Carollo (local business) representative to prepare hands-on lesson materials and gather needed supplies 2/2019- Assist Carollo visitor to implement lessons; select drum composter for modeling in garden and prepare visual materials explaining tool 3/2019- Create new skit based on composting skill needs; prepare for Recycle Art exhibit 4/2019- Create Recycle Art exhibit (and contest?); set-up composter and visual messaging about composting process that will be durable in outside setting 5/2019- Exhibit Recycle art and composter at Open House


Grant Use: Grant funds will be used to achieve goals that will otherwise be beyond the financial means of the 4th/5th grade recycle club members led by their volunteer parent facilitator. The Waste Reduction Grant will allow the Recycle Club to: 1. purchase materials and supplies for recycle team members to develop visual consumer awareness announcements, perform skits, advertise the documentary event, prepare hands-on lesson materials, create visual materials for composting section of the garden, and promote recycling art experience/contest 2. purchase custodial time to set up and take down chairs for local community viewing of documentary, "Straws" 3. purchase small, above-ground composter, in conjunction with garden funds 4. provide monies toward purchase of permanent recycle/compost/trash containers While the recycle club can complete some of these conservation-focused activities at a basic level without your support, funding from your organization will allow us to reach more people and share the message of recycling in a more rigorous manner. Thank you for your consideration!


#6 - School-wide sustainability at The Meher Schools

Project Description: The Meher Schools first began a huge shift in waste diversion back in 2015 through Recycle Smart's Wastebusters Program. Through this program we were able to divert 81% of our school's waste from landfill. Even though this is a significant reduction in waste, we want to go even further. This year we are planning to incorporate a program to collect hard-to-recycle goods from the classrooms and families. Twice a year there will be an ewaste and shoe collection drive, as well as a clothing and book swap. These programs will help include families in the sustainability practices being implemented here on a daily basis. The program will also be held twice a year to increase participation in sustainable habits. For waste specifically related to the school, we hope to purchase two boxes from Terracycle, a company that specializes in recycling goods that would otherwise be thrown in landfill. In addition, there will also be an evening class offered for school community members who are interested in incorporating more sustainable practices into their homes-- which will, in theory decrease the waste coming through the school.


Project Timeline: We hope to hold the first sustainability classes and bin drives in the early spring-- as a "Spring into Sustainability". The project will most likely coincide with April and end on Earth day. Next year and the following years we plan to hold one in both the fall and the spring.


Grant Use: The grant money will primarily go towards purchasing the Terracyle boxes and paying for minimal supplies for the bin drives and the sustainability classes. The Terracyle boxes are roughly $500 each. Other supplies include a bin for the shoe and ewaste drives. There may also be minimal needs for setting up the clothing and book swap.