UL and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) announced the 2016 UL Innovative Education (ULIEA) awardees, who are inspiring our future environmental scientists, engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs across North America. The winners are not-for-profit organizations that are empowering youth to connect with the natural world through sustainable community solutions and to nurture a capacity for understanding, social responsibility and action.

UL is a global independent safety science company that is dedicated to promoting safe living and working environments for the public. UL also believes in being a good corporate citizen. One way to do this is by encouraging programs that introduce science-based inquiry to children. As part of the development of this initiative, UL collaborated with the NAAEE and New Knowledge Organization Ltd., a non-profit think tank dedicated to research and evaluation of safety, environmental, and health programs impacting society. The ULIEA was introduced in 2015 to explore integrating environmental education with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and highlighting innovative examples of truly impactful programs.

ULIEA is open to nonprofit organizations in the United States and Canada working with K-12 students through project-based learning, community citizenship and science-based investigation. This program is unique because winners not only receive $250,000 (USD) in recognition awards, but they also have access to networking and UL mentoring support.

“We are proud to support innovative programs that are making positive impacts in their communities,” says Cara Gizzi, Director, UL Public Safety Education & Outreach. “The ULIEA award helps these programs increase their reach and share their innovations with other organizations on a broader level. The winner’s creativity and dedication is incredible, and it’s important for others to learn how they too can work with youth to make a difference and also solve critical environmental challenges.”

For more information on the initiative, watch this overview video.

The 2016 Winners include:

1. NY Sun Works Greenhouse Project: Winner of $100,000 Grand Award

By: NY Sun Works
Located In: New York

NY Sun Works Greenhouse Project is an initiative in New York City that uses hydroponic farming technology to educate students and teachers about the science of sustainability.

2. Coastal Explorers Field School: Winner of $50,000 Award

By: Oceans Learning Partnership
Located In: Newfoundland, Canada

The Coastal Explorers Field School is an interactive learning experience that uses the ocean as a teaching tool, involving students in hands-on educational programming onboard their “floating classroom,” at the shoreline, and at onshore partner facilities.

3. Adirondack Youth Climate Program: Winner of $50,000 Award

By: The Wild Center
Located In: New York

The Adirondack Youth Climate Program is a full-year program consisting of outreach, educational and leadership opportunities, and an annual youth climate summit providing students with the tools to make changes in their own schools.

4. Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative: Winner of $25,000 Award

By: Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan
Located In: Michigan

The Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) strives to build vibrant, sustainable communities committed to empowering young people as environmental leaders and social entrepreneurs. Collectively, these efforts extend the classroom outside school walls and into the exquisite natural and cultural landscape of Northeast Michigan.

5. SPARK:  Winner of $25,000 Award

By: Chincoteague Bay Field Station
Located In: Pennsylvania

SPARK, Shore People Advancing Readiness for Knowledge, is an innovative, experiential family learning program based on nature and the environment that seeks to introduce children and their families to nature, encourage learning outside of the classroom, and to foster positive learning interactions between parents and children.