WEST CHESTER (October 9) – State Senator Andy Dinniman encouraged schools, colleges and universities, county conservation districts, nonprofit organizations, municipalities and businesses to apply for funding through the state’s Environmental Education Grant program.

“These grants fund hands-on environmental education programs and community workshops,” Dinniman said. “It is important that we are prepared for the challenges facing our Commonwealth, from developing new sources of alternative energy to protecting our pristine waterways and natural treasures.” leaves-57427_1280

The deadline for grant applications is December 18. Grants are awarded up to $3,000.

The grants provide funding to create or develop programs and projects that support environmental education about important issues, including:

  • Sustainable Living: rain gardens, rain barrels, clean energy, radon protection, composting, and other related topics.
  • Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Education: reducing non-point source pollution, abandoned mine drainage/reclamation, water conservation, private water wells, groundwater, and other related topics.
  • Air Quality: ground level ozone, climate change, transportation, and electric generation issues.
  • Brownfields: brownfield redevelopment and creating sustainable communities.
  • Energy: energy efficiency and conservation, as well as, school energy teams, natural gas, coal, wind, solar, and other clean energy sources and technologies.
  • Keystone Energy Education Program (KEEP): school energy teams to reduce school building’s energy use.
  • Climate Change: climate change and mitigation strategies.
  • Environmental Literacy: engage educators and stakeholders in content standards and field-based environmental education.
  • Environmental Education Certification: develop and implement institutionalized and community-based certification programs designed for teachers, naturalists, and educators working in schools and environmental education facilities.
  • Natural Landscaping and Trees: native plant landscaping, riparian buffers, and invasive plant management.
  • Connecting Children with Nature: immersive outdoor education.

Eligible projects include the development of outdoor learning resources such as trails, shelters, streamside plantings and educational programming; transportation to field study sites; water chemistry testing equipment; and educational events. Past projects in Chester County have included organic gardening classes, outdoor environmental education camps for young children, and youth community service projects involving solar and sustainable energy projects.

The grants, which come through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), are funded by Pennsylvania’s Environmental Education Act of 1993, which sets aside 5 percent of the pollution fines and penalties collected annually for environmental education.

Applications are available online at www.dep.state.pa.us, or by contacting DEP’s Environmental Education and Information Center at 717-772-1828 or adevine@pa.gov.

In April, DEP awarded 110 grants totaling more than $304,000 to groups in support of environmental education programs across the state. Last year, four Chester County organizations received $17,000 in total grant funding for a variety of different projects and programs. Since the program’s inception, DEP has awarded more than $9.8 million in grants.

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