Greenpoint Eco-Schools: Creating a Legacy of Sustainability 2021-10-05T16:41:25+00:00

Project Description

Greenpoint Eco-Schools: Creating a Legacy of Sustainability

Project Lead: National Wildlife Federation
2014 Project Partners: P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont; P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry; P.S. 110 The Monitor; John Ericsson M.S. 126; Community Education Council 14; Greenpoint Gazette; NYC Division of School Facilities; NYC Department of Environmental Protection; NYC Department of Sanitation; NYC School Construction Authority; NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services; Change My World Now; and Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation
2015 Project Partners: P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont; P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry; P.S. 110 The Monitor School; John Ericsson M.S. 126; NYC Department of Education; and District 14 Superintendent of Schools
Project Location: Primarily located at 424 Leonard Street; 75 Meserole Avenue; 131 Norman Avenue; and 124 Monitor Street
Total GCEF Funding: $2,886,877
2014 GCEF Grant: $1,646,776 2015 GCEF Grant: $99,927
2015 Budget Addition: $212,043 2017 Budget Addition: $728,289
2019 Budget Addition: $109,250 2020 GCEF Grant: $90,592
Total Matching Contributions: $8,456,546
2014 Matching Contribution: $8,456,546
2014 & 2015 Projects Completed: July 2019 2020 Project Completed: August 2021

In 2014, through a competitive process, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) was awarded a GCEF grant of $1,646,776 (and provided $8,456,546 in matching funds) to implement an innovative environmental education program at four schools in the community: P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont, P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry, P.S. 110 The Monitor, and John Ericsson M.S. 126. The program’s framework involved establishing full-time Greenpoint Eco-Schools sustainability coaches at the schools, and using school buildings and grounds – and the Greenpoint community at large – as learning laboratories to teach 10 sustainability modules (Energy, Consumption and Waste, School Grounds, Biodiversity, Water, Climate Change, Sustainable Food, Healthy Living, Transportation, and Healthy Schools). The project sought not only to help create the next generation of community environmental stewards, but also to reduce both solid waste and water use at participating schools.

In 2015, NWF received an additional $311,970 in GCEF funding to expand the Greenpoint Eco-Schools program at the four participating schools and establish a “Green STEM Afterschool Clubs.” The new afterschool clubs, staffed by the full-time sustainability coaches, delivered environmentally based, educational programming with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities, and eco-related STEM careers. The GCEF funds also expanded in-class projects with guest presenters and special events to strengthen an understanding of Greenpoint’s history and environmental resources among students, teachers, and the community. Students also had numerous opportunities to apply their learning to make local environmental improvements, emphasizing the connections between the schools and the Greenpoint community.

Through another competitive process, NWF was awarded a budget addition of $728,289 in 2017 to increase capacity and environmental leadership at the four Greenpoint Eco-Schools by continuing to embed environmental and sustainability concepts across the curriculum, and share best practices with teachers and administrators. These activities sought to institutionalize environment-based educational practices and policies at the participating schools, as well as to establish systems and protocols for reducing waste and toxic chemical use; save energy and water; promote school wildlife gardens and local spaces as outdoor classrooms; and create additional tools, resources, and training modules to support the overall greening of the schools.

Further, with GCEF funding each participating school developed a “Greenpoint Eco-Schools Sustainability Toolkit” detailing environmental and sustainability best practices in areas of biodiversity, energy and water conservation, source separation and waste reduction, air quality improvement, wildlife gardening, and outdoor learning. The toolkits encourage lasting, behavior change among the students. NWF also partnered with the Newtown Creek Alliance to develop the “Newtown Creek Urban Ecology Curriculum,” an educational and stewardship curriculum about Newtown Creek that taught students in participating Greenpoint Eco-Schools about the Creek’s ecology and history, and sought to inspire them (and the larger community) to protect and improve it.

The Greenpoint Eco-Schools’ program activities also bolstered the schools’ and community’s capacity to sustain program elements as the GCEF-funded NWF staff transitioned out of Greenpoint in July 2019.

In 2020, NWF was awarded three additional GCEF grants totaling $90,592. The first grant provided $26,218 for NWF to partner with P.S. 31, P.S. 34, and M.S. 126 to complete schoolyard habitat enhancements that added biodiversity to school grounds and made school gardens more functional for outdoor classes. GCEF funds were used in the following ways: At P.S. 31, to host three stewardship events, plant shrubs, native wildflowers and edible crops, spread mulch, create pathways, install irrigation hoses, attach hanging planters, and procure seating, and gardening supplies; at P.S. 34, to host two stewardship events, spread mulch, varnish benches, add new planting containers and procure gardening tools; and at M.S. 126, to install eight new raised beds in the front of the school filled with native grasses and nectar-rich wildflowers designed to attract pollinators and to purchase additional picnic tables and gardening tools.

The second grant provided $53,612 to NWF to support teachers and families from all four Greenpoint Eco-Schools (P.S. 31, P.S. 34, P.S. 110, and M.S. 126) while they taught and learned remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding provided for the creation and distribution of nature-based activity kits to approximately 1,800 Greenpoint Eco-School students and staff. The kits included a pollinator wildflower seed packet, growing media, and an activity guide with planting instructions; pollinator observation activities; and supplemental projects for virtual or home-based learning.

The third grant provided $10,762 to upgrade Manhattan Avenue Street End Park in Greenpoint. The funds went towards regular maintenance and stewardship events at the park and for the purchase of additional native plants, tools for volunteers, and new fencing around trees and the meadow.

Kids Go Green: Waste Less. PBS Cyberchase video.

Kids Go Green: Waste Less. PBS Cyberchase video. [3:46] Credits.

  • Hired 4 full-time sustainability coaches to support project initiatives at the 4 Eco-Schools from 2015-2019
  • Facilitated 3 community-focused forums, attended by approximately 50 people, to introduce the project to the 4 Eco-Schools and the Greenpoint community
  • Facilitated approximately 160 monthly professional development workshops for teachers and principals at the participating schools, including a 3-day professional development workshop conducted in partnership with the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation
  • Facilitated a total of 7,414 activities for students, including regular classroom instruction with ecological themes, community-based learning opportunities, field trips, afterschool classes, and expert guest lectures from 2015-2019
  • Coordinated 555 activities to further connections between participating Eco- Schools and the community, reaching over 20,000 school families and community members in collaboration with 35 community partners over the lifetime of the grants
  • Introduced waste reduction activities, such as school-wide organics collection and waste sorting to encourage recycling and composting, at the schools, which diverted 555,779 pounds of waste from landfills
  • Prevented the release of 11,257 metric pounds of carbon at the participating Eco-Schools by introducing more energy efficient systems and encouraging smarter energy usage
  • Averted more than 100,000 gallons of water from being wasted by the participating Eco-Schools by installing outdoor rain gardens and encouraging smarter water usage
  • Distributed 160 indoor plants throughout the 4 Eco-Schools to help clean indoor air
  • Created and distributed 110 eco-friendly cleaning products to participating classrooms
  • Added approximately 10,000 square feet of green space and gardens to participating school grounds, and over 1,500 square feet of community wildlife habitat in community gardens, playgrounds, and parks in Greenpoint
  • Facilitated in-kind contributions from NYC agency partners to reduce each of the school buildings’ ecological footprint by installing systems to track water and energy use, and divert waste from landfills
  • Awarded each school $30,000 for lasting environmental improvements:
    • At M.S. 126: Two water bottle re-filling stations were installed, and an outdoor classroom and garden were created;
    • At P.S. 110: Two water bottle re-filling stations were installed, a native plant garden was created, and curriculum design workshops were held;
    • At P.S. 34: Two water bottle re-filling stations were installed, and an outdoor classroom was created; and
    • At P.S. 31: A greenhouse classroom with a STEM lab and hydroponics system was created
  • Awarded each of the 4 Eco-Schools another $5,000 to conduct a “Community Stewardship Action Project” that engaged school families and residents in volunteer service. Projects included a weekly composting program, a soil testing and safe-soils program, a renovation and greening effort at American Playground, and the installation of a rainwater collections system at 61 Franklin Street Community Garden
  • Developed and distributed to all Greenpoint Eco-Schools’ teachers the “Urban Schoolyard Habitat” curriculum, which includes 15 lessons, teacher introductions, worksheets, and extension activities
  • Designed and delivered nearly 440 lessons to approximately 260 students, over 2 years, as part of the Eco-Schools Green STEM Afterschool Club, covering topics such as compost and soil, landfills, recycling, gardening, biodiversity, the NYC watershed, wastewater infrastructure, green infrastructure, and introducing technology as a means for environmental discovery, monitoring, and problem-solving
  • Involved approximately 100 parents and 550 Greenpoint residents in the Greenpoint Eco-Schools program through field trips, student showcases, and family events
  • Implemented a new place-based STEM curriculum about Newtown Creek at participating schools, in which teachers conducted 196 lessons for approximately 200 students
  • Collaborated with Newtown Creek Alliance and Greening Greenpoint, in 2019, to host a community stewardship event at Manhattan Avenue Street End Park – over 100 community members volunteered, installing over 800 plants to create a 1,000-square-foot meadow
  • Created and published the “Greenpoint Eco-Schools Sustainability Toolkit,” a resource that provides school-specific, environmental and sustainability best practices
  • Hosted three stewardship events at P.S. 31 in 2021 to plant shrubs, native wildflowers and edible crops, spread mulch, create pathways, install irrigation hoses, attach hanging planters, and procured seating, and gardening supplies
  • Hosted two stewardship events at P.S. 34 in 2021 to spread mulch, varnish benches, add new planting containers and procured gardening tools
  • Aided by 65 6th and 7th grade students in 2021, installed eight new raised beds at M.S. 126 filled with native grasses and nectar-rich wildflowers designed to attract pollinators and purchased additional picnic tables and gardening tools
  • Created and distributed nature-based activities kits to approximately 1,800 Greenpoint Eco-School students, which included a pollinator wildflower seed packet, growing media, and an activity guide with planning instructions, pollinator observation activities, and supplemental projects for at home learning to increase students’ understanding of pollinator ecology and plant biology while sharpening their pollinator and plant identification skills
  • Provided regular maintenance and hosted two stewardship events at Manhattan Avenue Street End Park in 2021 and purchased additional plants, new fencing around trees and the meadow, and tools for volunteers

Climate In Crisis: TODAY donates 2 trees to Brooklyn garden (TODAY, September 19, 2019)

Eco-Schools: A Strong Finish (Go Green Brooklyn, June 6, 2019)

Kids Go Green: Eco-Fashion (PBS Learning Media – Cyberchase, July 2018)

P.S. 34’s Eco-Fashion Show 2018: Photo Gallery (National Wildlife Federation, July 2018)

Brooklyn Schools Earn National Environmental Award (National Wildlife Federation, May 15, 2017)

Fashion gets eco-conscious at PS 34 in Greenpoint (Queens Ledger, May 10, 2017)

4 Schools to Help Restore Greenpoint Environment (United Federation of Teachers, December 3, 2015)

New Environmental Program Starting at 4 Greenpoint Schools in January (DNAinfo, November 18, 2015)

EXCLUSIVE: Brooklyn oil spill fines to fund NYC school environmental conservation program (Daily News, November 18, 2015)

Greenpoint Eco-Schools Students Explore Nature in the City (Greenpoint Gazette, November 11, 2015)

Character Counts at PS 34 (Greenpoint Gazette, November 4, 2015)

Empowered Waste Warriors (Greenpoint Gazette, October 29, 2015)

Let’s Talk Trash (Greenpoint Gazette, October 14, 2015)

Eco Schools Program Brings Sustainability Training to PS 110 (Greenpoint Gazette, October 08, 2015)

Eco-Schools Rolls Out at PS 34 (Greenpoint Gazette, September 30, 2015)

Meet the Greenpoint Eco-Schools Sustainability Coaches (Greenpoint Gazette, September 16, 2015)

Over Three Days, Greenpoint Schools Prepare to Implement Sustainability Curriculum (Greenpoint Gazette, July 27, 2015)

Greenpoint Teachers Get Ready to Spearhead Environmental Curriculum (Greenpoint Gazette, July 15, 2015)

“Sustainability Coach” Will Help Greenpoint Students Get Their Hands Dirty (Bedford + Bowery, February 15, 2015)

Celebrating the Future Environmental Stewards of Greenpoint (, February 12, 2015)