Are you a student who could benefit from leadership or speaking training?  Youth Corps parent and Regional Human Resources Director for RR Donnelley, has created a great Leadership Training and Speaking Powerpoint to teach students such as you the Dos and Don’ts to becoming a great leader and effective speaker. Check out these tips to becoming a great leader and speaker here.

Grades of Green is currently seeking applicants from the City of Santa Monica for our 2014 Youth Corps program. We are looking for Santa Monica students who have a passion for the environment and making a difference in their schools and communities. Youth Corps students will implement one Green Project of their choice throughout the remainder of the 2013-14 school year with the support of the Grades of Green team and fellow Youth Corps students.

Grades of Green is holding an information session on Friday November 22, 2013 from 3:45-4:45 at Santa Monica High School, Science Building, room 107. Applications will be accepted until December 20th, 2013 for any Santa Monica students interested in being in the Youth Corps program.

To apply, fill out the application, sign the waiver, and send a photo so you can be featured on the website! You also have the option of sending us a letter of recommendation.

If you have any questions, please fee free to contact Grades of Green Programs and Outreach Manager, Allie Bussjaeger at Good luck!

Grades of Green is currently accepting applications for the 2013-2014 Youth Corps! We are looking for students who have a passion for the environment and making a difference in their schools and communities. Youth Corps members will implement one Green Project of their choice throughout the 2013-2014 school year with the support of the Grades of Green team and fellow Youth Corps members. As part of their service on the Youth Corps, students may also apply to be on the Youth Board of Advisors, where they can serve as Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Newsletter Committee Chair or Vice-Chair, Outreach Committee Chair or Vice-Chair, and Public Relations Chair or Vice-Chair. Click here to read about the 2012-2013 Youth Board of Advisors!

Students of all ages and from all countries are welcome to apply. Applications will be open from Monday, May 20th to Monday, July 12th. Please click here to download the application!  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Grades of Green Programs and Outreach Manager Allie Bussjaeger at Good luck!

For more information, please check out the links below.

Grades of Green has always known second term Youth Corps student, Grace
Cortese, was a rising green star. Indeed for her green work last year, she won
the White House’s Champions of Change award and got to personally meet
President Obama!  Now it looks like all
the world will get to see what an inspiration Grace is for themselves, as Grace
will be starring in a Verizon commercial. The Verizon
commercial Cutting our Carbon Intensity
was released at the beginning of this month, showcasing Verizon’s commitment to
the environment by measuring its carbon footprint and streamlining its

Grace was selected to appear in the commercial because of her
efforts to lead the charge to a more sustainable future. For the past two years
she organized electronic-waste drives at her school, collecting more than 6,000
lbs of e-waste each year and earning money towards buying solar panels.
Additionally, she has raised money to save the Polar Bears and to purchase
malaria nets, fundraised for the Westside Food Bank and NRDC, encouraged her
peers to care for the environment by posting “Green Tips” around her school,
and implemented worm composters at her school. “Once I started thinking about
the environment, I couldn’t believe that I could do so much – just me. We can
all do much more than we think we can,” she explained in Verizon’s film
clip.  She has done well for herself, but
the surprising fact? She is twelve years old!
Grace herself is proof that it takes only one person to awaken change,
and that as people across the world work together to care for the environment
we can truly make a difference for our planet. We can hardly wait to see the
change that Grace inspires next!

Grades of Green Youth Corps students,
Max and Reece Riley, are acting as catalysts of environmental change once again
by kicking off “Foam Free Fridays” at Hermosa View and Hermosa Valley Schools.  No less than 6 newspapers (the Washington
Post, Seattle Times, Beach Reporter, Easy Reader, Daily
Breeze, and Minneapolis Star Tribune) chronicled Max and Reece’s efforts within the Hermosa Beach City School
District to eliminate polystyrene waste by switching to recycled paper trays on
“Foam Free Fridays.” “They understand
the health, environmental, and financial benefits of environmentally friendly
practices at schools and embody Grades of Green’s vision of instilling
environmental values in kids,” says Grades of Green Youth Corps Coordinator,
Allie Bussjaeger.

The Washington Post article,
titled It’s not
easy to replace foam lunch trays with greener options, school officials say
, discusses both the successes of and frustrations of
schools nationwide that are seeking to move away from polystyrene lunch trays.  School districts in Los Angeles, New York
City, Washington D.C., and Portland cited tight school budgets and the high
cost of eco-friendly materials as the foremost obstacle to swapping out
polystyrene trays.  A student activist
club based in Maryland has been struggling to convince the Board of Education
to install a dishwasher at their local school so they can reuse hard plastic
trays, but the Board turned them down, citing high installation costs and environmental
tradeoffs of water-overuse and chemical pollution from dishwasher

The good news is that many schools have managed to
come up with either the funds or the creativity to implement environmentally
friendly practices in small ways, demonstrating that every shade of green effort
makes a difference! The Washington Post article points to New York City
Department of Education’s “Trayless Tuesdays,” a cost-neutral way of
eliminating the use of polystyrene trays once per week, and Los Angeles Unified
School District’s switch to compostable trays this year, as examples of strides
that schools have made in reducing lunchtime waste.

Max and Reece Riley’s “Foam Free Fridays” stand out
as both an effective and kid-driven solution to keeping polystyrene off the
lunch table and out of the oceans. “Styrofoam is really bad for the environment,” Max said.
“It’s bad for the fish, and it’s bad for pretty much everything
else.” The switch to compostable
trays does not come without its costs – $0.03 per tray, to be exact, which adds
up for cash-strapped schools that are already looking to cut corners. Community
support makes a big difference, though, as the Rileys found out when they sent
out an email to district families looking for the $20 per week needed to cover
the cost of “Foam Free Fridays.” Within two hours they had all the donations they needed! Having this strong community
support to eliminate Styrofoam will be important as Max and Reese continue to
work towards their ultimate goal: switching to compostable trays permanently. Check out the full Washington Post, Seattle Times, Easy Reader News, Daily Breeze, Beach Reporter, and Minneapolis Star Tribune articles for more on students’ push for environmental changes in their schools!


Grades of Green Youth Corps student, Maddie Barkate, has been recognized for her work to green her school by the city of San Juan Capistrano. Maddie is a sixth grade student at St. Margaret’s in San Juan Capistrano, who has a passion for saving the earth through decomposing organic material commonly found in trash, commonly referred to as composting.

As Maddie explains, “composting and recycling are important because it reduces the amount of items sent to the landfill.  People need to realize that if we don’t take care of our earth now and conserve its natural resources, then our resources will run out one day.”  As a member of the Grades of Green Youth Corps, Maddie and her fellow members will work throughout the school year to make their schools more eco-friendly.  To read the full article in the San Juan Capistrano Patch, go here. Maddie was also mentioned in her school’s weekly newsletter, to read it go here.


Grades of Green Youth Corps student, Sam Holtze, is making it his mission to collect shoes from numerous races this school year, all of which will be donated to Soles4Souls. Sam kicked off his initiative by coordinating other Youth Corps students to help collect over 10 pairs of used running shoes after the Manhattan Beach Hometown 10K and at Village Runner the week following the race.

By collecting these old shoes that would traditionally be thrown away, Sam is helping divert the shoes from the landfill and directing them to a place where they are needed and can be used. Through Soles4Souls, the shoes are sent to people in third world countries who do not have any footwear. To learn more about Soles4Souls go here.



Grades of Green’s youngest Youth Corps student, Rylee Goldfarb, is bringing “Make a Difference Mondays” to her school, Madison Elementary.  Every month, she will choose a Monday where she will set up a table in the morning and promote a green activity.

This month, her table encouraged fellow students to reuse items that would normally be found in the trash to make homemade holiday decorations. Additionally, she spoke at her school’s town hall meeting about “Make a Difference Monday” and has a designated bulletin board at her school where she puts up Earth Tips every month.  Can you imagine how many other kids she will be inspiring to care for the earth?  Way to “make a difference” Rylee!

Grades of Green announced the members of its 2012-2013 Youth Corps this week and California State Assembly member Betsy Butler took notice.  The Assembly member was so impressed by the Youth Corps, she has decided to recognize every single member of with an official Certificate from her office.  The Certificates will be presented to each Youth Corps student at their first official Board meeting in October.  Congratulations on your achievements Youth Corps!


Grades of Green Youth Corps students, Lilly Spangler and Sophia Fine Turcot, presented at the Green School Summit and Exposition on October 27, 2012.  The Summit was created to help highlight information, policy and best practices that can assist those who are developing and delivering green projects and programs at schools and colleges.

In particular, Lilly and Sophia spoke at an education session discussing their trash reduction program at their elementary school, Jefferson Elementary. Lilly and Sophia focused their presentation on their green ambassador program at Jefferson, as well as their lunchtime sorting system, in class recycling program, Trash Free Tuesdays, and how to encourage peers to be role models.