Bright Future Kenya Establishing Gardens to Produce Food for the Community

Collins Otiende from Kisumu, Kenya is making a huge impact during his first year as a LAUNCH facilitator. As the founder of his organization Bright Future Kenya, Collins works tirelessly to create projects that will not only reduce the impacts of climate change, but also issues of poverty within his region. This year, he took initiative in his community by helping schools establish edible gardens in order to address ongoing issues of food scarcity. With the help of multiple teachers across Kisumu, Collins and his team have established 8 gardens planting crops such as beans, vegetables, and other various pollinators. All of this was achieved by utilizing Grades of Green’s LAUNCH Garden Series.

In addition to establishing gardens, students in the program took their efforts a step further by planting trees across the community. After using Grades of Green’s Tree Planting Lesson, multiple schools were able to plan and plant hundreds of trees within Kenyan schools. With air pollution being one of the most apparent issues, tree planting has become a common practice due to the positive benefits of reducing surface temperatures, sequestering carbon, and overall providing necessary green spaces for students.

Moving forward, Collins and his organization–Bright Future Kenya–plan to continue their efforts and share their knowledge with additional teachers in the region. With LAUNCH being a quarter stone of their efforts, Collins and his students are creating an incredible impact and helping change the world for the greener.

We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2023-2024 Climate Solutions Campaign! Learn more about the student teams who won Eco-Grants for their incredible environmental impact and those honored for their amazing efforts. You can also relive the fun by watching a recording of our live virtual announcement event!

LAcarGUY International Changemaker Grand Winner – $1,000

GHS Buea
Buea, Cameroon

The first year team, GHS Buea, from Buea, Cameroon had an incredible year by winning our LAcarGUY International Changemakers Award. With leadership from their facilitator Julius Chumbon, the students set out to organize waste sorting practices across their entire school to prevent excess waste from entering landfills. The team then utilized all of their food waste to create compost for trees and plants on their campus while organizing multiple clean-ups. With their Grand Prize Eco-Grant, the team plans to expand their efforts into other schools within their community and develop a nursery to cultivate plants at their school.

Environmental Impact Grand Prize – $1,000

Whitney Eco-Club
Cerritos, CA

Long time participants of Grades of Green’s programs, the Whitney Eco-Club from Cerritos, California had an outstanding year promoting actions of sustainability. This student-led team set out to reduce textile waste by hosting a clothing swap and then creating homemade dog toys that were then donated to a nonprofit at the Subaru Pacific Share the Love Event. The remaining clothing was then donated to a local crisis shelter in order to ensure no item went to waste. Furthermore, the students completed the daunting application to become a California Green Ribbon School. In collaboration with school administration and district staff, the team was awarded the California Department of Education Green Ribbon Silver Award.

Habitat Hero Award – $500

Matungu Community Development Charity
Nairobi, Kenya

Using their Grand Prize Eco-Grant from the 2022-2023 campaign, the Matungu Community Development Charity worked with local community members to plant thousands of indigenous tree saplings, while educating students on the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, the team reduced their food waste using innovative composting techniques such as cultivating larvae of the black soldier fly. Moving forward, the team set an ambitious goal to increase tree coverage by 10% within their community.

Community Champions Award – $500

The Pear Tree Foundation
La Crescenta, CA

Returning for their second year, the Pear Tree Foundation from Crescenta Valley High School continued their efforts of offering composting programs to local elementary schools. With their 2022-2023 Eco-Grant, the student-led group purchased compost bins and provided in-person support to four elementary schools in the community. Through their efforts, the team was able to divert over 1,100 pounds of food waste, educate 6,900 people via press and media, and educate over 4,760 students in their community.

Intersectional Impact Award – $500

Human is Kind Organization
Nyanza, Kenya

The Human is Kind Organization from Nyanza, Kenya had a unique idea to manage waste in their community by creating reusable alternatives to plastic and disposal sanitary pads. In order to spread their message, they also partnered with multiple health clinics to communicate the harmful impact that waste has on the environment. Through their innovative efforts, the team was able to divert over 590 pounds of waste from entering the environment.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Award – $500

HEAR Club
Carson, CA

In order to educate students on the impacts of fast fashion, the students at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science conducted a social media campaign in addition to making tote bags from donated clothing. Over the course of many months, the team collected nine 25-gallon trash bags worth of used clothes. The students then took it upon themselves to learn how to sew, in order to create tote bags that could be given to students at their school, while educating them on the impacts of waste.

Planet Protector Award – $250

Kishoka Youth Organization
Mombasa, Kenya

The Kishoka Youth Organization from Mombasa, Kenya had an incredible impact this year by planting mangrove trees and educating students on the impacts of climate change. With a large group of community members and organizations, they planted thousands of trees and organized multiple clean-ups to reduce the harsh impacts of climate change in Mombasa, while giving back to students in their community.

Climate Collaborators Award – $250

The Parallel Projects
Zanzibar, Tanzania and Carlsbad, California

The Parallel Projects is a unique team of students at Santa Fe Christian (SFC) School in San Diego who collaborate with a group at the Lumumba School in Tanzania. Both schools campaigned for better sorting practices in their community. Furthermore, the SFC Club met with local restaurants to promote sustainable plastic alternatives, while Lumumba organized multiple clean ups to work towards a plastic-free environment.

Earth Advocate Award – $250

Little Risers
Agoura Hills, CA

Returning for their second year, the Little Risers from Agoura High School used their Eco-Grant from the 2022-2023 campaign to plant gardens, educate their school on the benefits of sustainable agriculture, and promote the “Kiss the Ground” film. In addition, this incredible team also made pamphlets for students on how to compost, source sustainable products, and mitigate our impact on the environment.

Rookie of the Year Award – $250

Earthlight Ambassadors
Buea, Cameroon

The Earthlight Ambassadors from Buea, Cameroon conducted an incredible outreach campaign to educate their community on how to reduce waste. To spread their message on the benefits of reducing waste, they appeared on radio shows and wrote press releases with various media groups. They also organized multiple school presentations and conducted community outreach campaigns. This resulted in the team reaching over 107,500 people via press, 521 students, and 201 community members.

Honorary Awards

Student of the Year

Colbie Stanek
Chattahoochee High School
Alpharetta, Georgia

Facilitator of the Year

Jean Posada
Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School
Bayside, NY

International Student of the Year

Hamisi Mohamed
Kishoka Youth Organization
Mombasa, Kenya

International Facilitator of the Year

Julius Chumbon
GHS Buea
Buea, Cameroon


Thank You to Our Sponsors!

A big thank you to our sponsors for their continued support of our students. Because of them, we can continue to offer our programs for free to our students, schools and districts.

Help us Continue to Providing Eco-Grants

Every year, we provide Eco-Grants to our top-performing students to help expand the reach of their environmental efforts. These funds not only multiply our students’ impact exponentially but also serve as a powerful incentive and teach students that their hard work is worthy of recognition and support. Help us to continue awarding student Eco-Grants by donating to Grades of Green today!

Eliminating Tire Pollution and Upcycling Waste to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

Ngalim Franklin is a rockstar LAUNCH facilitator based in Cameroon. Ngalim began his journey in sustainability as a high school Geology teacher, coordinating sustainability workshops and outdoor activities for his students. His teaching journey took a pause when he traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to build earthships – off-grid solar earth shelters made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires – to eliminate tire pollution.

While there, he learned that tire pollution exists in our air and oceans when synthetic rubber breaks down into microscopic pieces through burning or by wear and tear. Repurposing waste tires as construction materials can prevent tire burning and landfill disposal, creating a circular economy – a way of production that involves reusing and refurbishing products to reduce waste.

With the knowledge he gained constructing earthships, Ngalim returned back to Cameroon to lead sustainability and education initiatives with full force, becoming the Executive Director of his non-profit, The Greens, which focuses on educating young individuals from schools and football clubs on tire pollution and the utilization of tires as construction materials. One of his projects aims to construct a 150-meter-long tire embankment to act as a barrier for a football field, leveling the field and preventing erosion.

To clear the area for this project, Ngalim and his youth group utilized our LAUNCH Community/Beach Cleanup Eco-Lesson. He organized and mobilized over 600 students, informing them about waste sorting, waste management, and its effects when improperly disposed of.

With the area cleared, Ngalim and his student group can now lay the tire foundation and gain hands-on experience with using tires as construction material. Ngalim is a facilitator who inspires students to make a difference through project-based learning and community-led action.

Make a Difference

This year, we want to plant the seeds towards a more sustainable environment! During the month of April, we will be sharing all of the incredible projects that our students are doing from around the world. You can support their projects my making a donation to Grades of Green during our 2024 Root For Change Earth Appeal!

This year, we’re adding a special ~twist~ to our Earth Appeal!

  • Make a donation OR show your support during our 2024 Earth Appeal, and you’ll be entered into a giveaway to win 2 Platinum tickets to a LA Galaxy soccer game with free parking. It’s easy! Donate using the link in our bio and/or like, follow @gradesofgreen on your chosen platform, AND share this video on your story/post feed. The tickets can be used at any home game during the 2024 season, except when Los Angeles FC is the opponent. Travel and lodging is not included with the tickets
  • For every $100 donated during our 2024 Earth Appeal, our team will plant something in our home garden 
  • For every $1,000 donated during our 2024 Earth Appeal, our team will cumulatively hike a mile in our favorite location outdoors! 
  • Let us know what our team should do if we raise $10,000 in the comments!

For all of our students, we are also holding some fun competitions:

  • Best Environmental Meme
  • Best Reel/TikTok
  • Best Picture of You In Nature

Your Donations at Work

Every year, we are so proud to support all of the incredible students across the world. Learn how your donation makes a difference by seeing the incredible project our students are working on!

The Greens

Ngalim, a LAUNCH Eco-Toolkit facilitator, is leading six schools across Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions utilizing the lessons from our toolkits. Ngalim is empowering students to become environmental stewards by having them identify climate challenges such as waste management, deforestation, agricultural insecurity, and water scarcity. Then, using Grades of Green toolkits, students are further educated about each topic, inspiring action and commitment to environmental advocacy.

Grades of Green Ambassadors

This year, Grades of Green piloted it’s first ever ambassador program to allow past Eco-Leaders to continue making an impact in their community. Ambassadors, Nkeng Joel Junior and Ayuk Marie Noel, have been leading a combined 9 teams out of Cameroon across various projects to address some of the most pressing environmental concerns such as waste management, pollution, and temperature increases. Some of the projects include tree plantings, waste collection, and waste sorting. Nkeng and Marie have been supporting their teams every step of the way by recruiting, offering on-site support, and supporting students/teachers with their expertise on environmental projects. Click the button below to continue supporting our incredible ambassadors!

SOAR Eco-Leaders

Through Grades of Green’s SOAR Eco-Innovation Academy, students are working with businesses–Northrop Grumman, Beyond Meat, Subaru Pacific, Turner Construction, Build California, and Further Products–to address sustainable solutions to potential environmental challenges. After touring each business, the students have selected their groups and determined the solution they want to address. The students are underway creating their sustainability plans and are scheduled to present their solution to each business in June. Click the button below to support our SOAR Eco-Leaders!

During his time at Whitney High School in Cerritos, California, Kyle became involved with Grades of Green through the Ecology and Wildlife Club at his school. In his initial year with Grades of Green, he took part in the RISE Climate Solutions Campaign, collaborating with Tree Plenish to replenish the paper used at the school through a community tree sale. Despite the global pandemic, Kyle and his team successfully sold 120 apple trees in an online sale.

Following the success of the tree sale, Kyle progressed within the club and assumed the role of director during his junior year. As director, he partnered with Grades of Green to tackle plastic waste on campus, specifically focusing on reducing the use of plastic-wrapped utensils. Through his efforts, his project raised funds to introduce compostable utensils in the school cafeteria. Kyle’s initiative extended beyond his school; he took the campaign district-wide, rallying support from both faculty and students through a petition. “Seeing people use compostable utensils at our schools is incredibly fulfilling,” Kyle remarked.

Despite graduating from Whitney High School in 2023, Kyle aimed to ensure his campaign’s legacy. Evelyn, his successor in the Ecology and Wildlife Club, has continued to expand the project, now including replacing plastic-wrapped napkins with napkin dispensers. “Encouraging younger students to take charge of their own initiatives is key,” Kyle emphasizes.

Post-graduation, Kyle plans to attend UCLA to delve into the intersection of environmental science and public health.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is a mindset or perspective. It’s a combination of taking action and realizing that everything you do has an effect on the environment and the people around you. Whether it’s dropping a piece of trash on the floor, the food you are eating, the house you are building, everything has an environment. Sustainability is being engaged and taking action to combat that.

What has been your favorite memory of Grades of Green?

Last year, leading the Grades of Green campaign and bringing such an ambitious project to our school is my favorite memory, even though there were so many challenges. With guidance from our advisor, Mrs. Perry, and everyone from Grades of Green, I was able to break out of my shell and develop leadership qualities I never would have imagined developing before. It showed me how resilient and determined I was. It also showed me the power of students to make an impact on our community.

For those who are new to Grades of Green, what would be one piece of advice you would give them?

Take advantage of all the resources Grades of Green has. They have a wealth of resources and experts from all sorts of fields. Whenever I reached out to Grades of Green, they offered guest speakers, volunteering or internship opportunities, and interviews. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Take advantage of everything they have to offer because really, that’s their goal: to inspire action and help students explore the environment.

We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2022-2023 Climate Solutions Campaign! Learn more about the student teams who won Eco-Grants for their incredible environmental impact and those honored for their amazing efforts. You can also relive the fun by watching a recording of our live virtual announcement event!

LAcarGuy International Changemaker Grand Winner – $1,000

Matungu Community Development Charity
Nairobi, Kenya

Addressing large-scale issues of waste in their community, Team MCDC reduced 5,000 kgs of waste from the environment and educated students in local schools and across social media platforms. This ambitious team established 4 micro-gardens with the ability to feed up to 200 people monthly while planting 3000 trees. Team MCDC also furthered their efforts by processing 5,000 kgs of organic fertilizer, which were used to plant crops and indigenous trees.

Environmental Impact Grand Prize – $1,000

Mary Bragg Green Team
Cerritos, CA

The students at Mary Bragg Elementary School took on the ambitious feat of addressing multiple topics of the Climate Solutions Campaign. They managed sorting stations on their school campus, planted trees, held an E-Waste drive, encouraged alternative forms of transportation, participated in beach clean ups, and raised money for students in Africa. Mary Bragg also worked with a school in Nigeria, JSS Tudunwada, to learn more about their culture while fundraising money to beautify their community. They also were the recipients of the EPA Presidential Environmental Youth Award and the California Green Ribbon School Award.

Green Campus Leaders Award – $500

The Pear Tree Foundation
La Crescenta, CA

This enthusiastic team set up composting stations across 3 elementary schools, in addition to their own campus. They also created an animated video to educate viewers on composting on school campuses.

Habitat Heroes Award – $500

Kishoka Youth Organization
Mombasa, Kenya

The Kishoka Team educated their community on the impacts of climate change. They planted 2,500 mangrove trees and collected waste, which they reused to construct buildings in their community.

Community Rubbish Reducers – $500

Malezi Community Center
Nairobi, Kenya

The Malezi Community Center educated over 1,800 students amongst 4 different schools about the effects of waste. This passionate team collected over 25,000 kgs of waste and planted 120 trees.

Green Thumb Award – $500

Agoura High School
Agoura Hills, CA

The Agoura High School team educated over 3,000 students about regenerative gardening and built an edible garden on their campus. They connected with local farmers to promote organic and regenerative farming methods while raising $100 for the Kiss the Ground organization.

Eco-Influencer Award – $250

Team University of Buea
Buea, Cameroon

Team University of Buea recovered 4.5 kgs of waste and educated their community members on the impacts of waste. Through appearances on national television, this driven team reached audiences of over 30,000 people. 

Hydration Heroes Award – $250

Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School – The Water Team
Bayside, NY

The students at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School purchased reusable water bottles for over 1,300 students and staff and educated their community on plastic waste. In addition, they raised $300 for students in Africa.

Planet Protector Award – $250

For the Love of Frogs
Carlsbad, CA

Justin S. has worked diligently to save acres of the Ecuadorian rainforest by participating in the Reserva letter campaign. He has collected over 1,500 letters and held a Raffle for the Rainforest that encouraged his classmates to join his mission. 

Rookie of the Year Award – $250

Akili STEMARTS Academy
Kisumu, Kenya

The students at Akili STEMarts Academy learned vertical gardening methods to build gardens at their homes and school. This ambitious team used composting to reduce waste in their community while improving soil quality and crop yields.

Honorary Awards

Student of the Year

Cordelia O’Rourke
Crescenta Valley High School
La Crescenta, CA

Facilitator of the Year

Kerry Flores
Mary Bragg Elementary School
Cerritos, CA

International Student of the Year

Ayuk Esame Marie Noel
Team IRIC
Yaounde, Cameroon

International Facilitator of the Year

Dhanam Sivalingam
PSGR Krishnammel Nursery and Primary School
Coimbatore, India

We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021-2022 Climate Solutions Campaign! Learn more about the student teams who won Eco-Grants for their incredible environmental impact and those honored for their amazing efforts. You can also relive the fun by watching a recording of our live virtual announcement event!

LAcarGuy International Changemaker Grand Winner – $1,000

Malezi Community Centre Primary School
Nairobi, Kenya

This team addressed the large-scale issue of waste in their community. The ultimate goal of the Malezi team was to construct a centralized waste holding facility away from the community. The students did door to door campaigns across the community to educate families about the benefits of reducing waste in addition to more information about their cleanup efforts. This ambitious team collected 2 tonnes of trash and are planning to purchase trucks for waste transport that is independent of the government. Simultaneously, they also created a rooftop garden at their school to support further efforts in greening their community.

Environmental Impact Grand Prize – $1,000

Mary Bragg Green Team
Cerritos, CA

The Mary Bragg Green Team stepped up to  take on every single environmental topic for their RISE Campaign! This student team sold trees via Tree Plenish, sold rain barrels, established a Trash Free Lunch Sorting Station, held beach clean ups, and began a food recovery program by donating edible food through Food Finders. On top of all this, they donated $500 to Matungu in order to help another team plant more trees internationally. Additionally, this team is participating in activities with This Little Light Africa to plant gardens and purchase new desks for a school.

Sustainable Impact Award – $500

Matungu Community Development Charity
Nairobi, Kenya

This year, Matungu continued with their project from last year and this time they planted 5005 trees. They met their goal  quickly while utilizing help from their community. In addition to tree planting, Matungu also created micro gardens to plant food items such as spinach, kale, coriander, etc. Furthermore, they conducted many outreach and educational events within their community. This team also worked with Mary Bragg Elementary in California to extend the reach of their project and they continue to inspire others with their dedication to the environment.

Community Trailblazer Award – $500

Team University of Buea
Buea, Cameroon

This team’s goal was to plant 500 trees in their community to reduce the amount of CO2 in their home, and they partnered with multiple organizations to complete their goal. Eco-leader Joel not only reached out to local organizations, he also met with multiple government officials and news outlets to spread the word. In the end, he gathered 400 trees and planted them throughout his whole community. Joel and his team made countless flyers, social media posts, and even made certificates for all of the students who participated. He also reached out with local radio and news stations to cover the tree planting event which helped  broadcast and widen the reach of his team’s goals.

Community Eco-Activists Award – $500

Cooking Up Less Food Waste from Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School
Bayside, NY

This team of middle schoolers from New York are a determined group who pushed really hard past many hurdles. Initially, this team set out to implement a food donation station at their school, but met a challenge when they found out that the Department of Education prevents this action. The team  took this as an opportunity to shift their project towards changing the laws. They contacted multiple government officials to gain support in changing the laws in addition to making a petition. The team continues their work to change the laws and aims to complete this ambitious task by the end of the school year.

Campus Waste Warriors Award – $500

Poly Green Team
Long Beach, CA

The Poly Green Team addressed waste and sorting in their large High School by installing 65 recycling bins on their campus. They also created and implemented food waste sorting stations around campus and created videos/presentations to educate students on how to properly sort waste. This dedicated team of students worked hard and showed real leadership throughout their year-long project.

Green Campus Leaders Award – $250

Whitney High School
Cerritos, CA

This team of students set out to change out their district’s utensils from plastic into compostable. This was extremely ambitious which caused them to meet many roadblocks. They shifted their efforts from targeting the district to their school only. The students made multiple petitions, flyers, social media posts etc. to gain support. They held many food fundraisers to purchase their own compostable utensils that the school could use in addition to utensil dispensers. Moving forward, they are looking to have a district meeting to campaign for the district wide shift as they originally planned. If that does not work, they are also campaigning to switch from a plastic packaged utensil, napkin, and straw to single items.

Eco-Preneaur Award – $250

Justin Sather from For the Love of Frogs
Carlsbad, CA

Justin has done many presentations to promote his own work and the new Grades of Green toolkit he has been developing. Justin also worked with multiple businesses to advocate for more sustainable products including ECOS and Native Shoes. He also won the Crate & Barrel Kids Changemakers prize and is currently aiming to advocate towards bigger businesses. Justin also did many outreach events/presentations with multiple organizations.

Eco Innovator Award – $250

For the Greener Good from Mira Costa High School
Manhattan Beach, CA

The students at Mira Costa High School decided to take on the topic of waste by educating their community and hosting multiple events. Their first event was a clothing swap to raise awareness about the harms of fast fashion and textile waste on the environment. This student-led team educated their school community about reducing textile waste while promoting sustainable fashion. Another event they hosted was a harbor clean-up event in which club members and friends took to the water on kayaks and paddle boards to clean up litter in the harbor.

Rookie of the Year Award – $250

Eco Crew from EDUSN International Digital School
Myanmar

Eco Crew was our first team from Myanmar that completed a social media/presentation campaign on how to reduce litter. This included many posts, videos, and graphics to express their care for the planet. They held multiple webinars about their initiatives and worked closely with other teams in the area.

Honorary Awards

Student of the Year

Ruthie Heis
Long Beach Poly High School
Long Beach, CA

Facilitator of the Year

Kerry Flores
Mary Bragg Elementary School
Cerritos, CA

International Student of the Year

Deshna Jain
To Environment, With Love
Kolkata, India

This season of giving, help fund our students’ and teachers’ most impactful environmental projects!

Last school year, Grades of Green awarded more than $15,000 in Eco-Grants and stipends to students and teachers around the world! 

Help us DOUBLE the amount we award in 2022 by donating today!

Each dollar you donate goes toward expanding the environmental impacts brought about by these amazing student environmentalists and their dedicated teachers.

Typically, each Eco-Grant ranges in value from our Grand Prize, $1,000 Eco-Grant, to $500 or $250. Teacher stipends also range in size from $500 for new teachers to $250 for those returning to our programs.

See How Our Eco-Grant Expands our Students’ Impact

To give you an idea of the outsized effect that our Eco-Grants and stipends have on students and teachers, we asked last year’s awardees to record a short video to showcase their project and what they plan to do with their new funding.

Please take a moment to watch the videos below and discover how you can positively impact both the environment and our students by helping us double the Eco-Grants that we provide.

Rylee from Redondo Union High School

Most Inspirational Team Award – $500
Redondo Beach, CA

Rylee and her team earned our $500 Eco-Grant to start their own website to educate and inspire the public to reduce their use of single-use plastics. Eco-Leaders like Rylee worked with state and local leaders to discuss problems caused by plastic, and how people can take action to fight the plastic pollution problem. Her team is helping pave the way to a greener plastic-free future!

Sam from Mira Costa High School

Green Influencers Award – $500
Manhattan Beach, CA

Eco-Leader Sam Torres and her team launched their viral campaign, “South Bay Meatless Mondays,” which gained major reach in their community. With their $500 Eco-Grant, the Mira Costa Team is excited to work on their vegetarian cookbook and host monthly beach cleanups. Thanks to Eco-Leaders like Sam and her team, sustainable eating habits are being made easier and more accessible to the public!

Ruthie from Helen Keller Middle School

Community Changemakers Award – $500
Long Beach, CA

Eco-Leader Ruthie and the Helen Keller Middle School team earned our $500 Eco-Grant for advocating to Long Beach Unified School District to commit to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Her team collaborated with local government leaders, LBUSD staff, press outlets, and NGOs to keep up the pressure on the district. Their $500 Eco-Grant will fund eco-resources such as school gardens, bike racks, and recycling programs for underserved schools in Long Beach. Eco-Leaders like Ruthie and her team are one step closer to making their school district more sustainable!

Eunita from Matungu Community Charity Development

Grand Prize Winning Team – $1000
Nairobi, Kenya

Eunita and three other Eco-Leaders from the Matungu Community Charity Development earned our $1,000 Grand Prize Eco-Grant for planting 3,500 trees and more. They’re using their Eco-Grant to inspire local communities to plant more trees to expand their reforestation efforts. They’ve used the grant to purchase seeds, equipment, and establish a community nursery. Through Eunita and the Matungu Community Charity Development’s efforts, the Nairobi community is on its way to vastly reducing their carbon footprint!

Deshna and Devenganna from the Modern High School for Girls

International Changemaker Award – $250
Kolkata, India

The International Changemaker Award recipients, Deshna and Devenganna, and the Modern High School for Girls team are collecting e-waste and inspiring teen leaders to work on waste awareness around the world. With their $250 Eco-Grant, these Eco-Leaders are helping install solar panels in villages of Bihar, India, to make these villages more sustainable and eco-friendly!

Max from Weston High School

Rookie of the Year Award – $500
Weston, Massachusetts

Eco-Leader Max and the Weston High School team received the Rookie of the Year Award for their impressive work in inspiring their community to help them collect over 900 pounds of plastic bags. All those plastic bags are being used to create a public community bench for Weston residents. With their $500 Eco-Grant, Max and his team will be able to fund a plastic bailer at Weston waste transfer station to create a long-term solution to plastic bag recycling in Weston!

Halima from the Kishoka Youth Organization

Most Dynamic Team Award – $250
Mombasa, Kenya

The Most Dynamic Team Awardees, Eco-Leader Halima and the Kishoka Youth Organization, have successfully hosted interactive events to get their community to take on environmental issues. They held bike-riding events and planted mangroves to offset the removal of trees for a nearby highway construction project. With their $250 Eco-Grant, the Kishoka Youth Organization will be planting more mangroves and expanding outreach to more local schools and students. Their work will educate younger students and the greater community on the importance of mangroves and planting trees!

Mary Bragg Elementary

Best Elementary Impact Award – $500
Cerritos, CA

Mary Bragg went above and beyond. The team is enormous (over 50 kids) so they split into 3 groups. Each group voted on a group leader and held a weekly meeting where they set an agenda and met their goals. These 5th and 6th graders picked trees for their topic and decided to have each group focus on a different solution. Group one focused on increasing urban tree cover, group two focused on protecting tropical forests, and group three focused on reducing the heat island effect.

Meghana from Farmington High School

Most Collaborative Teams Award – $500
Farmington, MI

Students from Adams and Farmington Hills High Schools collaborated on a project to get their schools to ban styrofoam lunch trays and replace them with sustainable alternatives. These teams really put in the time and effort to work as a collective unit to try and get styrofoam banned in their cafeterias! You could tell that they were extremely organized and were always available to move their project forward.

We were so excited to partner with Kathy Kellogg Johnson of Kellogg Garden Products to rejuvenate the school garden at Kelso Elementary School in Inglewood, CA. This amazing event was featured by ABC7 and CBS2 – watch each clip below.

It was so much fun to spend the day with the students and staff of Kelso Elementary and to join Kathy, who will be receiving our first-ever Mother Earth Award at VERTE 2021 coming up on October 9th. We’d love you to join us at VERTE as we celebrate Grades of Green’s student Eco-Leaders!

We’re so excited to share the winners of the 2020-2021 Climate Solutions Campaign! Please explore the student teams who won Eco-Grants for their incredible environmental impact and those who we honored for their amazing efforts. You can also relive the fun by watching a recording of our live virtual announcement event, here.

Grand Prize Winner – $1,000

Matungu Community Development Charity
Nairobi, Kenya

Team MCDC was a wonderful team to work with during the Climate Solutions Campaign. They are a group of four motivated girls who are passionate about solving the climate crisis in their community and ended up inspiring their community to plant more than 3,500 tree saplings! From the start, they were committed to the campaign and it showed in their organization, coordination, and overall success of their project. They had clear goals on how to help their community and executed their project exceptionally well. 

South Bay Rotary Club Award – $1,000

The STEAM Express Team from Gardena High School
Gardena, CA

While researching the global climate impact of waste, the STEAM Express team from Gardena High School was very concerned about the environmental cost of fast fashion and textile waste. What really struck them was that 84% of donated clothes still end up going to the landfill. To do something about it, the STEAM Express team worked with local organizations like LAcarGUY and BizHaus, a co-working space where Grades of Green has an office, to collect old clothes. These caring students decided to turn the clothes they collected into blankets to be donated to local homeless shelters. For their dedication to the environment and to people in need, the students were chosen by the South Bay Rotary Club to receive a special Eco-Grant!

Best Elementary Impact Award – $500

The Mary Bragg Green Team at Mary Bragg Elementary School
Cerritos, CA

Mary Bragg went above and beyond. The team is enormous (over 50 kids) so they split into 3 groups. Each group voted on a group leader and held a weekly meeting where they set an agenda and met their goals. These 5th and 6th graders picked trees for their topic and decided to have each group focus on a different solution. Group one focused on increasing urban tree cover, group two focused on protecting tropical forests, and group three focused on reducing the heat island effect.

Green Influencers Award – $500

The “For the Greener Good” Team at Mira Costa High School
Manhattan Beach, CA

This team is 100% student-led with very little to no adult support. Sam Torres, a Junior, is the leader of the team and organizes everything from the meetings to the project and outreach. This team of about 40 students was very successful in inspiring their community to eat less meat and go meatless on Mondays. They garnered support from local businesses and engaging their audience to participate in their online challenge.

Community Advocates Award – $500

The Ecology & Wildlife Club at Whitney High School
Cerritos, CA

The dedicated Ecology and Wildlife Club at Whitney High School hosted a community tree sale to offset their school’s paper usage and surpassed their goal by distributing more than 120 trees. This team is very student-led with minimal adult support. They are extremely passionate, organized, and driven and worked very hard on their social media videos and infographics.

Community Changemaker Award – $500

The Keller Greenies at Helen Keller Middle School
Long Beach, CA

This team is exemplary! The students from Helen Keller Middle School teamed up with fellow Long Beach students to advocate for the commitment of the Long Beach Unified School District to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.  They are very capable and continually show that they’ll one day be future world leaders.

Most Inspirational Award – $500

The Redondo Reducers at Redondo Union High School
Redondo Beach, CA

The Redondo Reducers Club, led by long-time Grades of Green Eco-Leader, Rylee, hosted a Plastic Pollution Solutions Panel featuring state and local leaders that
dove deep into the most pressing issues around plastic pollution. Rylee worked very hard to pull together this panel which required her to coordinate with numerous community leaders to make it such a success.

Most Collaborative Teams Award – $500

Adams High School & Farmington High School
Rochester Hills, MI & Farmington, MI

Students from Adams and Farmington Hills High Schools collaborated on a project to get their schools to ban styrofoam lunch trays and replace them with sustainable alternatives. These teams really put in the time and effort to work as a collective unit to try and get styrofoam banned in their cafeterias! You could tell that they were extremely organized and were always available to move their project forward.

Rookie Team of the Year Award – $500

Weston High School
Weston, MA

The team from Weston High School, led by Max, collected more than 500 pounds of plastic bags from his community to repurpose into a public bench. Max worked to coordinate with many leaders in his community and they all responded positively. He is looking for a longer-term solution to the problem of plastic waste and plans to use his Eco-Grant to help fund a bailer for his local waste transfer station. He always managed to come through and get the work done!

International Changemaker Award – $250

The “To Environment, With Love” Team at the Modern High School for Girls
Kolkata, India

These girls are on a mission! Two high schoolers started an organization called “To Environment, With Love” in their community before participating in the Campaign. They called family friends, knocked on neighbors’ doors, made phone calls and started an Instagram page to start collecting recyclables such as e-waste, paper waste, and items that could be donated or upcycled. Although they started the campaign with an existing project, they were able to build on it significantly this school year. Not only did they expand their collection in their community, but they were also able to reach other high school students all over the world to start chapters in other cities. They now mentor those students to do the same thing they’re doing in their community.

Most Dynamic Team Award – $250

The Kishoka Youth Organization
Mombasa, Kenya

The students from the Kishoka Youth Organization hosted a bike ride event in their community where they planted 100 mangrove seedlings, in addition to conducting litter pick-ups, presenting at seminars and educating younger students on the importance of mangroves. The Kishoka Youth Organization is led by a very energetic and dedicated director who keeps his students active non-stop. He’s committed to empowering his students and wants them to learn and get involved in making environmental improvements. The team of kids made a ton of impact this year!

Honorary Awards

Best Student Innovator

Adriel Mar at Culver City Middle School
Culver City, CA

Adriel chose a difficult advocacy project – he created a food waste certification system for local businesses – with the potential to make a major impact on food waste in the future. Because of the scope of his Campaign, he is still early in the process, but he continues to be committed to his project and has laid significant groundwork for his goals.

Most Enthusiastic Team

The “Mission Unsoakable” Team at Rogers Middle School
Long Beach, CA

Mission Unsoakable checked every educational goal in the RISE campaign outline. They used all their guidebook materials, learned a TON about project management, used every resource available, and made terrific use of their Ask the Expert meeting. They were truly the most enthusiastic team and showed so much dedication to their project!

Best Team Name

The “Jeez We Like Trees” Team at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74
Queens, NY

What a great team name from Nathanial Hawthorne! This team was heavily student-led, holding their own virtual meetings and organizing their ideas and thoughts. This creative and fun team had an awesome project: they planted trees outside their school to filter polluted air from the nearby docks.

Best Alumni Team

The HEAR Club from the California Academy of Mathematics and Science
Carson, CA

What a high effort, high-functioning team! The HEAR Club has always been an awesome team to work with. This year, the team focused on fighting fashion waste by repurposing used clothes into 150+ dog toys for Gone to the Dogs Rescue. They partnered with long-time Grades of Green supporter, Subaru Pacific, to collect donated clothes and made a lot of dogs very happy!

Best Elementary School Team Facilitator

Roberto Escala at Goethe International Charter School
Los Angeles, CA

Best Middle or High School Team Facilitator

Jean Posada at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74
Queens, NY