On April 23rd, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors presented the 11th annual Green Leadership Awards at their regularly Supervisors’ meeting. As part of a long-standing commitment to sustainability efforts, the awards recognize outstanding efforts by individuals, cities, businesses and public agencies that further the County’s environmental sustainability goals. Santa Clarita Valley TV reported on the awards and celebrate Grades of Green, among Green Leaders such as University of Southern California – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Clean Power Alliance.

SCVTV reported that “Grades of Green developed the Water Campaign to equip future leaders with the skills needed to create water solutions in their communities and beyond.” The 2018 Water Campaign empowered 530 students from schools and student groups in the County and seven other countries to involve their communities in water action. Students conserved 9.76 million gallons of water by implementing water solutions, and educated 4,200 students, parents, school administrators, district supervisors, elected officials and community members through presentations and informative campaign videos.

Click here to read more from SCVTV.

Grades of Green would like to thank Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda Solis, Sheila Kuehl, Janice Hahn, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kathryn Barger for recognizing Grades of Green for this honor. We are committed to continuing to mentor students in Los Angeles and beyond to create environmental solutions and are so proud of our eco-leaders’ achievements.

None of this would be possible without the generous support from our Water Campaign sponsors:

The Boeing Company

Sanitation District of Los Angeles County

Long Beach Water Department

Northrop Grumman


LA Kings Foundation

Subaru Pacific

County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl

Carton Council

Downtown Manhattan Beach Business & Professionals Association

Johnson Ohana Foundation

West Coast Event Productions

Grand View PTA

Optima Energy

Continental Development

Klean Kanteen

Follow us on social media @gradesofgreen and let us know YOUR favorite way to save water!

The 2019 Waste Campaign included 80 teams from 77 cities and 13 countries. Collectively, Grades of Green Waste Campaign teams diverted over 229,000 pounds of waste (114 tons) from the landfill and educated over 25,000 leaders and community members around the world! These numbers will continue to grow as the student teams expand on their waste reduction projects.

While choosing one winner from all the amazing projects submitted was extremely difficult, the Grades of Green Team of Environmental Expert Judges successfully narrowed it down to one Grand Prize Winner.

We are proud to announce the 2019 Spring Waste Campaign Winners, Bridgeport Elementary School Green Team!

Bridgeport Elementary School Green Team (California)

During the Waste Campaign, the Team working at lunch noticed the large number of good food items being thrown into the landfill bin. They were appalled, and wanted that food to go somewhere it could be eaten. The team decided they wanted to donate the food to the local Food Pantry and Homeless Shelter, and the Grades of Green mentors provided resources and guidance to help best put ideas into action. In order to raise awareness and encourage other schools in their community to start a Food Rescue program, Bridgeport shared their video and program with all the families at their school and with all the schools in their district. See their video HERE.

Santa Clarita Valley Public Television (SCVTV) featured the grand prize winners on their news program, and featured their Green Team video on their website.

SCVTV added, “We are so proud of all they are doing at the school and they just won the Grand Prize in the Grades of Green contest for their great program! Go Bridgeport Go!”

You can see SCVTV’s feature on the Bridgeport Elementary School Green Team here.

At VERTE 2019, Grades of Green celebrated it’s tenth Earth Day Birthday by toasting to ten incredible years of environmental stewardship. As a special surprise, to commemorate one decade of eco-action, Grades of Green staff partnered with Oxen Jewelry to collaborate on a Grades of Green inspired necklace. Each Grades of Green Founder, Kim Lewand Martin, Suzanne Kretschmer, Shaya Kirkpatrick, and Lisa Coppedge received a customized Leaf Lariat to celebrate their hard work and dedication. Their efforts have given hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to bring their sustainability initiatives to life.

Now, you can purchase your own Grades of Green inspired Leaf Lariat from Oxen Jewelry!

Leaf Lariat by Oxen Jewelry

The Leaf shaped chalcedony is wrapped and suspended on a 14k gold-fill lariat. Adorned elegantly with a variety of dainty, green chrysoprase beads. This beautiful necklace was designed to honor Grades of Green’s commitment to a sustainable future. A portion of the proceeds from this limited design necklace goes back to supporting Grades of Green.

You can purchase the Grades of Green inspired Leaf Lariat here! As seen at VERTE 2019.

For more instant buy items from VERTE 2019, benefiting Grades of Green, click here.

If you’ve listened to our interview on KIIS FM, or followed our Instagram page, then you already know about Justin, from Los Angeles, California. Better known for his Instagram handle, @justinsfrogproject, Justin launched a sustainability initiative ‘For the Love of Frogs,’ which quickly evolved into a journey deeply rooted in friendship and family.

When Justin first learned that frogs were an indicator species, he resolved to do everything in his power to help his amphibian friends. Justin learned that an indicator species is one which tells us about the impact of pollution on an ecosystem. A declining frog population is trying to tell us that our planet needs our help.

Justin started learning more about the problems with plastic pollution. He discovered ways to keep trash out of landfills. He switched to reusable snack bags and gave lessons on composting at Emerson Gardens. He also learned how to recycle crayons, turn fishing line into bracelets, and transform plastic bags into doormats. Then he came across a little girl that melts 200 pounds of plastic bottle caps into a buddy bench that encourages kindness and new friendships.

In the summer of 2018, Justin wrote a letter to Sammie to learn more about her Buddy Benches. He learned that a Buddy Bench is a place where students can go at recess when they are feeling lonely, upset, or want to make new friends. Justin was beyond excited about the concept and the two of them quickly became pen pals and began writing letters weekly to each other. And within weeks, Justin wanted to make a Buddy Bench for his school in Los Angeles. He started collecting bottle caps from friends, neighbors, his classmates, the YMCA, Walgreens, and packages even started arriving from multiple states and the furthest package came all the way from Norway.

In January of 2019, Justin and his family joined Grades of Green at a Los Angeles Kings game, where the dedicated Staples Center staff took the group on a tour of the remarkably sustainable stadium. After speaking with Sustainability Manager Jessica Franco, the Staples Center promised to make his bottle cap dreams come true. Just a few weeks later, they did exactly that. Arriving at Justin’s home in Los Angeles with hundreds of pounds of bottle caps, the Staples Center helped him reach his goal of 210 pounds of plastic bottle caps. With that, Justin and his family were off to meet Sammie in Indiana and deliver the caps to be melted down.

Justin’s family and friends worked tirelessly to help him achieve this awesome feat, first by scouring Los Angeles for bottle caps, and then zig-zagging across the country to complete their mission. What began as a sustainability initiative, grew into a lasting friendship and a bonding experience for the whole family. Last month Justin’s Frog Project held the first board of his Los Angeles Buddy Bench, with family and friends in attendance.

Check out our Instagram to see photos from Justin’s journey and his meeting with Sammie! You can also follow Justin and Sammie’s adventure by following @powerofpenpals on Instagram.

In preparation of our tenth birthday, Grades of Green would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has made our vision possible. From the Eco-Leaders taking action and bringing change to their communities, to the generous donors and sponsors who ensure all Grades of Green students receive the environmental mentorship they deserve; we are so grateful to work with each of you.

We look forward to celebrating 10 years of eco-change with the community that sparked a global movement at VERTE 2019! We have several surprises in store that you won’t want to miss, including a Global Tasting Menu from Chef Sabado, Illusionist Luke Brady mesmerizing the crowd, a live performance from Manhattan Beach’s own Joe’s Band, and now specialty cocktails and a tequila tasting from our friends Nosotros Tequila!

Nosotros Tequila Cocktail Bar

A proud sponsor of VERTE 2019, Nosotros Tequila will be mixing up specialty cocktails inspired by Grades of Green. The “World’s Best Tasting Tequila” and Double Gold award-winning juice is the result of blending two agave regions to create a taste profile that is both unique and delicious. Their sustainably-sourced highland agaves give Nosotros a sweet and citrus introduction while lowland agaves bring an herbal finish, truly one of a kind.

The name Nosotros comes from enjoying premium tequila with family, friends, and loved ones. Located in the heart of Hermosa Beach, CA, Nosotros reaches its global community through a 1% donation of all revenue to Waves for Water, an NGO that focuses on disaster relief by providing clean drinking water to those in need. Continuing their conservation efforts, Nosotros is pleased to lend its support to Grades of Green.

Nosotros Tequila is sure to shake things up at VERTE 2019. Miss this and you’ll be green with envy.

Limited tickets are still available, click here to reserve your seat today.

“Any fifth-grader can tell you that our addiction to single-use plastics is killing our ecosystems,” said Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, California. This past year, Grades of Green Eco-Leaders have worked to reduce hundreds of pounds of waste, presenting their sustainability solutions to their school, their local government, and their community. Through the Water Campaign and Waste Campaign, students from 16 countries, representing 77 cities, contributed to a global effort to reduce waste, conserve water, and educate their community.

On Sunday June 2nd 2019, our students will present their innovative solutions at Subaru Pacific in Hawthorne, and you are invited to celebrate these bold innovators, as Grades of Green holds its first ever Youth Summit: Impact-a-thon!

In an event that is open to the public, we will be taking a day to reflect on the success of our Eco-Leaders, sharing their projects and their triumphs. We will recognize the collective impact, as well as the individual impact, Campaign Teams have had on their community and the world.

Get inspired by student leaders presenting their innovative eco-solutions, build advocacy skills during an expert workshop, network with the Los Angeles green community, and learn about upcoming sustainability opportunities. Lunch and eco-goodies will be provided.

This event is open to the community, so we invite you to bring friends and family to Subaru Pacific on June 2nd! Check out this Impact-a-thon Facebook Event to RSVP and learn more. The Impact-a-thon is free and open to visitors of all ages.

The Impact-a-thon is open to our global Grades of Green community as well! If you can’t make it to California and would like to participate virtually, the Impact-a-thon student presentations and interactive workshop will be streamed via Facebook Live.

REGISTER TO PRESENT YOUR PROJECT HERE BY MAY 10th if you are a student leader who has completed a green activity that you are proud of this past school year. Presentations will be science-fair style, and prizes will be awarded to the most innovative and creative project displays.

As of this writing, Grades of Green Eco-Leaders have diverted over 400 tons of waste, protected over 16 million gallons of water, and were instrumental in four legislations that banned single-use plastics. The impact our Eco-Leaders have had over the past ten years is truly monumental. The annual VERTE gala is a time to recognize the accomplishments of our hard-working Eco-Leaders, all around the globe, and ensure that they have the tools necessary to lead their generation to a brighter, more sustainable, future.

This year, as a special ‘Thank You’ to all our generous donors, we have several surprises in store to make VERTE 2019 an event you’ll never forget.

Ten years of environmental mentor-ship is an accomplishment worthy of an equally impressive venue. At the westdrift Manhattan Beach Autograph Collection Hotel, guests will be lavished with comfort and luxury by a five-star staff. Having completed a multi-million-dollar renovation just last year, westdrift effortlessly combines east-coast elegance and the laid-back vibe of coastal California.

westdrift Manhattan Beach Autograph Collection Hotel

LA Confidential named the westdrift Hotel and Restaurant one of the top reasons why celebs are suddenly flocking to Manhattan Beach. “Westdrift channels beach-cum-urbane chic. Its lobby intentionally echoes the Manhattan Beach pier with massive wood pilings, while the indoor-outdoor eatery, Jute, overseen by SLS Bazaar’s Octavio Sabado, continues the city’s celeb-chef love affair,” wrote LA Confidential Lifestyle reporter Alexandria Abramian.

Executive Chef Octavio Sabado’s Jute Coastal Bar and Restaurant was also named a Best New Restaurant by Tasting Table. He will be preparing a Global Tasting Menu for the guests at VERTE to experience culinary innovations and cuisines from around the world – all countries and areas representing a Grades of Green school.

We look forward to celebrating with you, on April 20th at the westdrift Manhattan Beach Hotel. Table Sponsorships are still available. You can purchase tickets to VERTE 2019 here.

As the Waste Campaign transitions into Phase 3 of the four-month competition, 81 Campaign Teams from around the world are still in the running for seven Eco-Grants valued at up to one thousand dollars. While Campaign Teams are almost ready to bring their sustainability solutions to the community, one community has announced they are ready to hear them.

Councilmember David Ryu, representing the City of Los Angeles’ Fourth District, heard about the sustainability efforts by Campaign Teams from Thomas Starr King Middle School and Marlborough School and immediately wrote them a letter of support. Councilmember Ryu expressed how proud he was of the Student Leaders and urged them to continue their efforts. He added, “I have great hope for the significant impact you will have within the lives of those in our community.”

See below to read more from Councilmember Ryu’s Letter of Support to Thomas Starr King Middle School and Marlborough School, and for more information on the Waste Campaign.

Councilmember Ryu’s Letter of Support

“Dear Student Leaders:

On behalf of the City of Los Angeles’ Fourth District, it is my great pleasure to express my support of your efforts in the Grades of Green Waste Campaign. As student leaders of Marlborough School and Thomas Starr King Middle School*, you are a shining example in Council District Four of what it means to be environmentally aware and eager to make a difference. Your goal to address local sustainability issues has my enthusiastic support.

I am rooting for your success within the competition for grant funding for your local sustainability goals. It will undoubtedly take a lot of hard work and dedication to develop a strategic plan of how to address an issue of great importance to our community, and I have great hope for the significant impact you will have within the lives of those in our community by coming up with innovative solutions for waste reduction.

I extend my best wishes for continued success in this project and all of your future endeavors.


David E. Ryu

Councilmember, District Four”

About the Waste Campaign

From Omaha to Nairobi, student leaders are practicing conservation in their personal lives, while brainstorming sustainability solutions in their community. Campaign Teams in the United States are matched with international Campaign Teams to broaden their horizons and collaborate on sustainability initiatives. Campaign Teams have gone on to be recognized with the Presidential Environmental Youth Award, they’ve been instrumental in single-use plastic bans, and have worked to educate their community about local sustainability issues.

* – Please note that Councilmember Ryu penned separate letters to both schools.

Anyone who has attended VERTE in the past knows, its more than just a gala. In anticipation for our tenth anniversary, we have special surprises in store to celebrate ONE DECADE of environmental mentorship.

You’ve heard about our Global Tasting Menu by Chef Sabado, Attention Artist Luke Brady mystifying the crowd during our cocktail hour, and now we are pleased to announce that Manhattan Beach’s own, the famous Joe’s Band will be headlining at our Birthday Party following VERTE 2019!

Joe’s Band Headlining VERTE After-Party

Joe’s Band mix up Rock, Soul, Latin grooves and dance rhythms to create a World Beat sound all their own. “Joe’s Band is the epitome of all that is fun,” said one reviewer. “I have never seen an audience react to a group like this before. He gets the crowd jumping.” You won’t want to miss this rocking good time.

As part of the VERTE silent auction, you can bid on the chance to perform with Joe’s Band. From Sinatra to Shakira, whether you want to belt out your favorite lyrics or strum along with Joe’s Band, you can make your ‘Rock Star Dream’ happen!

Joe’s Band is sure to keep VERTE rocking well into the night, grab your tickets now cause you won’t want to miss it.

This coming Earth Day, April 20th, Grades of Green will celebrate one DECADE of environmental mentorship, and we look forward to sharing it with you, the people who made it possible.

The annual VERTE gala is a time to recognize the accomplishments of our hard-working Eco-Leaders, all around the globe, and ensure that they have the tools necessary to lead their generation to a brighter, more sustainable, future.

This year, as a special ‘Thank You’ to all our generous donors, we have several surprises in store to make VERTE 2019 an event you’ll never forget. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled, because if you blink you may miss it.

Attention Artist Luke Brady

VERTE 2019’s cocktail hour will have some truly unique experiences this year, including magical moments with Attention Artist, Luke Brady! Known for creating mind-bending experiences with his audience, Luke is an expert in making people say “WOW”.

Blending in with the audience, Brady leaves on-lookers asking, ‘how did he do that?” Using props and hypnosis to challenge your perceptions, Luke Brady will leave your jaw on the floor and you asking for more.
Brady’s audience has described him as an “unbelievable talent.” They have gone on to say, “Luke was magnificent. He kept our guests entertained and amazed at the phenomenal things he did. He is talented, personable, and truly delightful.”

You will not want to miss all that he has prepared for VERTE 2019!

We look forward to celebrating with you, on April 20th at the Westdrift Hotel. Tickets to VERTE 2019, including the cocktail hour with Luke Brady and the Global Tasting Menu by Chef Sabado, are available here.