Nothing makes our day more than hearing from our Grades of Green Alumni! This summer we were thrilled to catch up with former Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leader Alex N., who piloted the Farmer’s Market Meals Activity while in high school.  Check out Alex’s adventures below!

“Grades of Green was a huge part of my high school experience, yet my passion for environmental activism has only grown since being a part of the Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program. I now am a senior studying Earth Systems at Stanford University with concentrations in sustainable food and agriculture, and Spanish. In past summers, I have worked for an urban development non-profit called 100 Resilient Cities in New York and conducted environmental education research based on immersive backpacking trips in Yosemite National Park. More recently, I studied abroad in Santiago de Chile, where, while not learning about Chile’s incredible biodiversity in the classroom, I was lucky enough to explore the country’s natural wonders. I not only made it far South to camp in Torres del Paine in Patagonia, but traveled North to the Atacama Desert, where I sandboarded down massive dunes. I’m now spending the summer interning in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the municipal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As an intern in their urban agriculture sector, I spend half my days in the greenhouse planting in preparation for their future educational farm, and the other half writing and designing a permaculture manual to accompany the city’s workshops.”

Inspired by Alex’s story and want to follow in her footsteps? Applications for the Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program are open now, click here to learn more and apply!

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, Metropolitan Water District provided a grant to Grades of Green which helped our Youth Corps Eco-Leaders install a native garden on campus to save water! You can read the Manhattan Beach Sun article about their garden by clicking here, or you  can view the PDF version here.




Interested in joining our Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program and taking on an environmental activity of your own? Email us at info@gradesofgreen.org or call our office at (310) 607-0175 for more information! Applications for the 2017-2018 program are open until September 15, 2017.

Lush highlighted Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge and our mission to inspire and empower kids to care for the environment. Thanks to their sponsorship, Grades of Green was able to help schools across southern California reduce their lunchtime waste by an average of 70%! Read the full story by clicking here, or you can view a PDF version here.

Interested in signing your school up for the Trash Free Lunch Challenge? Email us at info@gradesofgreen.org or call our office at (310) 607-0175 for more information!

Grades of Green wishes a very happy 11th anniversary to the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market! To celebrate, Grades of Green hosted a booth with our signature veggie stamping activity. Visitors were invited to create beautiful designs with veggie scraps while learning about the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting.

A few lucky attendees even got to meet Sam H., a Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leader who is collecting used shoes at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market all summer long! Sam wants to keep as many shoes out of landfills as possible by donating them to those in need of shoes. Since he began his shoe collection in 2011, Sam has collected over 17,000 pairs of shoes. At the 11th anniversary celebration alone, Sam was able to collect over 300 pairs of shoes! You can read more about Sam’s shoe collection as well as his goal of collecting 25,000 shoes by clicking here. If you have unwanted shoes you would like to donate, please place them in the designated shoe collection bins at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market on Tuesdays from 11am to 5pm.

Can’t make it to the Farmers Market? Donate used shoes at Tabula Rasa in Manhattan Beach from July 14 – 16 and receive a discount on your purchase! Tabula Rasa is generously offering special discounts in the store, and the discount gets better and better the more pairs of shoes you donate. Learn more about this limited time offer by clicking here.

All shoe donations to Tabula Rasa and the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market will help Sam reach his goal of collecting 25,000 pairs of shoes and will ultimately go to those in need of shoes. Thank you to the Manhattan Beach Farmer’s Market and Tabula Rasa for supporting Sam in his quest to keep used shoes out of landfills!

Grades of Green wishes a happy summer break to both students and teachers alike! To kick off summer, we hosted a booth at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Teacher Family Day. Teachers were able to learn about Grades of Green’s free environmental programs such as the Trash Free Lunch Challenge and Youth Corps Eco Leadership Program as well as Grades of Green’s 40+ Eco-Activities. Attendees also got to enjoy a fun veggie-stamping activity led by  Youth Corps Eco-Leaders Rylee G., Misha H. and Cosmo H., while learning about the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling! Interested in bringing some environmental programs into your school? Click here to register with Grades of Green and unlock our 40+ Activities for inspiration!

Did you know over 300 million children in the world can’t afford shoes, yet millions of shoes are dumped into landfills each year? Sam H., a Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leadership student, wanted to do something about this problem. Since 2011 when he first joined the Youth Corps, Sam has worked Grades of Green and Soles 4 Souls to collect used shoes and donate them to those in need. His goal is to collect 25,000 pairs of shoes before he starts college this fall and if he succeeds, he will earn a trip to Africa to visit those who benefited from his shoe collection. After six years of hard work, Sam managed to collect 17,000 pairs of shoes – and he only needs 8,000 more to reach his goal!

This summer Sam is partnering with Grades of Green and the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market for one final push to complete his goal, but we need your help! Please bring any unwanted used shoes to the designated collection bins located at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market on Tuesdays from 11am – 5pm. These bins will be available all summer long, and all shoes will go to supporting Sam’s goal. Want to learn more about Sam’s shoe collection and play some fun and educational activities during your next visit to the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market? Be sure to visit the Grades of Green booth during the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market Anniversary on July 11th – we hope to see you there with your used shoes!

Want to take an an eco-activity like Sam? Click here to learn more about Grades of Green’s Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program!

Manhattan Beach Middle School shared some great news with us lately! In a recent e-newsletter, MBMS celebrated the installation of a couple of water refill stations. Several passionate students organized the fundraising efforts, including Youth Corps student Sydney H. She ran 3 separate e-waste drives, where the e-waste collection company paid for the e-waste Sydney collected to be recycled properly. Thanks to the newly installed hydration stations, MBMS will do their part to forgo using single-use plastic water bottles, which contributes to 8 million tons of plastic waste that ends up polluting our oceans.

Do you want your school to cut back on single-use plastic water bottles? Taking on Grades of Green’s Water Refill Station activity will surely help your cause! A water refill station can be as simple and low-cost as an insulated water jug! To access downloadable resources (such as our hydration station signage that you can print out for your own station) and more, please register here.

Dear Grades of Green,

You have taught me so much. I learned about leadership, the earth, and public speaking. You gave me so many opportunities that made me into the person I am today. I would have never accomplished anything without the support of the Grades of Green Youth Corps mentors. I can’t thank you enough I have learned so much and I will never forget this experience.

6th graders Maxine and Elise started the 2016-2017 school year with a vision to create a drought tolerant garden at their middle school. The girls joined the Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program, and made their dream come to life! The power team worked with their administration for approval and to select a location on campus for the garden. After months of fundraising, creating a plan, meeting with district maintenance members to get the garden up and running, and researching the best plants to include in their garden, the M.E. Garden was born! The M.E. Garden stands for mindfulness and education. The drought tolerant garden was created to compliment the science teacher’s curriculum, and includes a variety of drought resistant plants that serve as pollinators, while being native to the area. Maxine and Elise followed the National Wildlife guidelines on creating a drought tolerant garden, and received a National Wildlife Certification for the garden! Interested in leading an environmental activity at your school like Elise and Maxine? Applications are now open for the 2017-2018 Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program – click here to learn more!

Elementary, middle, and high school students from Grades of Green schools in Santa Monica, together with community and environmental activists, made impassioned pleas to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Trustees this month to embrace sustainability throughout the district.  Seventy speakers were slated to testify about the necessity and benefits of long range sustainability planning.  Santa Monica High School students, some wearing “litter costumes”, shared data they collected while researching environmental concerns on their campus.  Waste, litter, plastic pollution, and water quality were some of the issues raised.  Even Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leader Johanna J. joined the meeting to talk about her research on the environmental benefits of being vegan. Each speaker was allotted one minute to present their case. 

These students ROCKED the chamber.  Their voices were loud and their message was clear – include sustainability in the district’s mission, hire a sustainability officer, and establish a sustainability committee. 

These kids care about their planet and they stepped up to participate in the democratic process!  Want to learn ways that your school can care for the planet and implement an environmental activity like the Santa Monica Grades of Green students? Click here to register and unlock Grades of Green’s 40+ Activities. Interested in taking on an environmental activity of your own like Johanna? Click here to learn about Grades of Green’s Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program!