VERTE 2019 is just two weeks away, and we are very excited to celebrate ten years of environmental mentorship with you. As we approach our annual VERTE gala, we would like to take a moment to recognize our partners who have helped us reach this important milestone. Without further delay, announcing the VERTE 2019 Honorees!

Environmental Advocacy Honoree: The City of Manhattan Beach

Since Grades of Green’s inception ten years ago, the City of Manhattan Beach has been a cornerstone partner. From our flagship school, Grandview Elementary, to the four Waste Campaign Teams from Manhattan Beach this past Spring, the City has been extremely supportive of Grades of Green Eco-Leaders. Not only has Manhattan Beach made sustainability a priority in its own right, the city has encouraged student presentations and civic engagement.

In 2014, the City of Manhattan Beach welcomed Grades of Green Eco-Leaders to a City Council Meeting, where they presented on the effects of Styrofoam on our environment. The student leaders were instrumental in what was hailed as “the strongest Styrofoam ban in the country.” In 2018, Grades of Green Eco-Leaders presented to Manhattan Beach City Council, this time advocating for the ban of all single-use plastics. By April, Manhattan Beach had moved to ban plastic straws and utensils. Grades of Green has worked with the City of Manhattan Beach countless times in between, and we hope to continue to work together for many years to come.

Environmental Advocacy Honoree: Lonely Whale

As Grades of Green enters it’s tenth year, our Eco-Leaders represent a global community of 22 countries. Reaching international, often remote regions requires radical collaboration, which is exactly what Lonely Whale is all about. By collaborating with multiple partners on sustainability campaigns and initiatives, Lonely Whale has established themselves as one of the most recognizable brands in environmental advocacy. Lonely Whale works with nonprofits, student leaders, and environmental advocates, operating as a think tank, developing innovative and far-reaching sustainability initiatives.

In developing the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, it was Lonely Whale’s mission to empower existing and emerging youth leaders to create their own campaigns to take action against ocean plastic pollution. Working with Grades of Green, Lonely Whale welcomed Eco-Leader Cosmo to present at the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp. Working with Lonely Whale allows Grades of Green to present student leaders with unique opportunities to escalate their projects and make lasting change on a local and global level. We are proud to recognize Lonely Whale as our Environmental Advocacy Honoree, Executive Director Dune Ives will be accepting the award on behalf of Lonely Whale.

A special thank you to VERTE guests…

Grades of Green Founders: Kim Lewand Martin, Suzanne Kretschmer, Shaya Kirkpatrick, and Lisa Coppedge

As we celebrate our 10th Earth Day Birthday, we’d like to recognize our founders Kim Lewand Martin, Suzanne Kretschmer, Shaya Kirkpatrick, and Lisa Coppedge. Their efforts have given hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to bring their sustainability initiatives to life.

Founding PlanetPals Volunteers: Inga Middleton and Paki Wolfe

In addition to the four founders, founding PlanetPals volunteers Inga Middleton and Paki Wolfe were instrumental in launching Grades of Green. Their tireless efforts during the early stages of our environmental nonprofit allowed the organization to flourish into what it is today.

Founding Sponsors and Supporters: KAA Design Group, Waste Management, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

We would not be able to provide the resources and mentorship to our students if not for the generous support of our founding sponsors and supporters. KAA Design Group, Waste Management, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP have given us the opportunity to reach student leaders all around the world. The organizations have shown a commitment to building a sustainable future, and we look forward to working them for years to come.

We look forward to celebrating with you at the Westdrift Hotel in Manhattan Beach on April 20th. Few tickets are still available, so reserve your seat today.

What is the Global Water Challenge?
Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Global Water Challenge is in it’s final week, and winners will be determined in April for Earth Month! This semester, student leaders at 40 schools from 10 countries and 8 U.S. states participated in our virtual challenge to protect our water supply for current and future generations. Student leaders rolled-out semester-long water conservation and water quality campaigns.

Water Conservation
Schools focusing on water conservation learned about their local water sources, identified instances where water was wasted, and took action to conserve water on campus, at home, and in their communities.

Water Quality
Schools focusing on water quality learned about their local water sources, identified water quality issues, and took action to improve and protect their water quality.

A Water Challenge Winner from each category will be selected a panel of expert judges, and the winners will be announced on April 16th via Facebook Live.

Spring 2018 Water Challenge Judges
This semeter’s judges are scientists, policy advocates, nonprofit leaders, and experts in water specifically. Learn more about our featured judges:

Vanessa Smith is a Community Investor for
Boeing’s Global Corporate Citizenship
in Southern California where she manages the company’s environmental and education (early learning & K-12) portfolio. She partners with non-profit NGOs in the region to invest corporate and local resources, supporting sustainable, positive impact in communities where Boeing employees live and work. Smith is a graduate of Leadership Los Angeles, a program devoted to key community issues and personal development. She also graduated from Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute, where she was an active participant in the dynamics of the local, state and national political process and advocated on issues impacting Latinas. Smith received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego in Political Science and an MBA from Rady School of Management at University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Matthew Cohen is a professor of Forest Water Resources and Watershed Systems at the University of Florida. As a hydrologist and ecosystem scientist, Dr. Cohen is interested in anything to do with water but has a special fondness for swamps, springs, and blackwater creeks. Dr. Cohen has worked on various research efforts and water assessment technologies at places like the Center for Environmental Policy, the Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory, and the World Agroforestry Center in Kenya.

Noah Dunn is a Client Relationship Manager at the Opportunity Lab. He has 4 years of student development and education experience. As an administrator and educator at the New York Times and 60 Minutes-featured Abaarso School in Somaliland, he worked directly with Somali youth from grades 7 through 12.

Charming Evelyn is the current Chair of the Sierra Club’s
Los Angles Chapter Water Committee,
where she addresses water issues in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. She has held several positions within the Sierra Club over the years and she participates in many committees including the Parks, Conservation, Environmental Justice and the Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Sierra Club CA Water Committee, where she works on Statewide issues.

Shaya Kirkpatrick is a co-founder of Grades of Green. Previously, Shaya was a founding member of Planet Pals, an environmental program working with schools in Southern California to help children take a hands-on approach to help the environment. For her work, Shaya has won many notable awards such as the Environmental Award from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2009, which recognizes individuals and groups outside of the EPA who are working to protect public health and the environment.

Kimberly Lewand Martin is a co-founder of Grades of Green. She was inspired to found Grades of Green through her work as a volunteer to help green her children’s schools, Grandview Elementary and Trinity Lutheran Preschool, as well as the Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach School Districts. Prior to Grades of Green, Kim practiced in the area of environmental law for over 15 years, having received her B.A. from UCLA in 1988 and her J.D. from Pepperdine School of Law in 1992.

George McGraw runs DigDeep in Los Angeles, which he founded. DigDeep is the only global water organization working in the U.S. — empowering the millions of Americans without running water or basic plumbing to build and manage their own water systems, including the award-winning Navajo Water Project. George was recently named one of the 17 “Local Globalists” by the UN Foundation and is a member of Nexus.

Wayne Sentman is Oceanic Society’s director of conservation travel programs. Wayne is an experienced naturalist guide who has a diverse background in the recovery of threatened and endangered species, as well as marine pollution research. Since 2002 Wayne has been an instructor for a 3-week undergraduate wildlife ecology field course conducted each year on the Mpala Research Center in Kenya.

Grace Woo is an Assistant Water Resource Specialist at the a Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. She manages a contract with the Council for Watershed Health for a pilot school water conservation program in underserved communities. She also conducts water savings analysis for landscape irrigation, commercial, and industrial water savings projects through Metropolitan’s pay-for-performance Water Savings Incentive Program.

How will the winners of the Spring 2018 Global Water Challenge be determined?

  1. -Participants submit their Water Challenge results surveys and innovation videos on March 30th
  2. -The Grades of Green New York team reviews submissions and Finalist Schools are announced on April 6th
  3. -The panel of expert judges reviews finalists and determines the winners based on the Water Challenge Scorecard
  4. -Water Challenge Winners and total impact of the Spring 2018 Water Challenge are announced on April 16th
  5. -Winning schools will receive a $500 grant to implement their student-created water conservation and water quality projects

Follow @gradesofgreen for Global Water Challenge Updates