Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rockfall Foundation Announces 2014 Environmental Grants

The Rockfall Foundation has awarded its 2014 major grant awards to two environmental projects, focused in Middletown, the lower CT River, and along the Middlesex County shoreline.

This spring Rockfall is distributing a total of $25,000 in grants for environmental programs benefitting Middlesex County.  The grants will go to SoundWaters for expansion of its highly successful Coastal Explorers program into the County, and to the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA) to bring the Project Learning Tree, GreenSchools! Program into the Middletown school system.

“While SoundWaters has numerous educational programs in Connecticut, Westchester and Long Island, our Rockfall grant will enable us to expand and increase the scale of our work throughout Middlesex County and the state’s eastern portion of the Long Island Sound region,” states Executive Director Leigh Shemitz. “Coastal Explorers will teach hands-on environmental education to increase students’ scientific understanding of the Long Island Sound watershed and the downstream effect of their daily activities.  Over 1,400 students will investigate the science of the Connecticut River.”

CFPA’s grant will help bring the national Project Learning Tree, GreenSchools! program into the Middletown School system, building on the current Department of Public Health (DPH) initiative called, Tools for Schools. “Our objective is to build upon and expand the DPH initiative by implementing a student learning component that can be embedded in the school’s curriculum,” explains Lori Brant, CFPA’s Education Director. “Project Learning Tree CT teaches students how to think, not what to think about the environment and helps schools assess current environmental conditions in and around their school grounds. Students take personal responsibility for improving the environment at their school, at home, and in their community.”

“These two programs will bring environmental awareness to a large number of students and are designed to both sustain themselves and expand to more Middlesex County schools in the future,” states Grants Committee Chair, Marilyn Ozols. “The Committee was impressed with both the hands on quality of the programs and the extent of the impact they will have.”

These are the first major grants to be awarded by Rockfall. The foundation has given smaller grants to organizations and towns throughout the county since 1972, providing critical seed money and support for innovative grassroots environmental education, conservation and planning initiatives. These grants have ranged from $500 to $5,000. The goal of these larger grants – given either as single-year or multi-year disbursements – is to provide worthy groups with the resources to launch or complete a major project or program, and to be more effective in the community.

A list of past grant recipients and project descriptions is available on Rockfall’s website here. Grants are awarded by the foundation annually. Application information is available by calling Claire Rusowicz at (860) 347-0340, or visiting the website. Schedules for the 2014-15 grant cycle will be available in late summer.

The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education, conservation programs and planning initiatives in Middlesex County. Established in 1935, it is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations whose mission is to be a catalyst-- bringing people together and supporting organizations to conserve and enhance the county’s natural environment. Rockfall awards grants each year to organizations, schools and municipalities, and sponsors educational forums and symposia.

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