Stat of the Week — March 30, 2007

March 30, 2007 3 min read

Green Grants

The National Environmental Education Advisory Council, in a report to Congress, cited research demonstrating that environmental education has a positive impact on student achievement and motivation. This week’s Stat of the Week examines the amount of grant money awarded to schools, districts, or school boards and state government agencies through the Office of Environmental Education’s grant program.

That grant program “supports environmental education projects that enhance the public’s skills so that people can make informed decisions that affect environmental quality” through both formal and nonformal education efforts, according to the 2005 report “Setting the Standard, Measuring Results, Celebrating Successes: A Report to Congress on the Status of Environmental Education in the United States.” It has awarded more than 2,750 grants and $30 million in federal funding since 1992. From 1992 to 2006, the majority of awards went to non-profit organizations. Schools, school districts, or school boards were awarded 17 percent of funds, while state government agencies, which could include state departments of education, received just 4 percent of the grant money.

Percent of Environmental Education Grants Awarded Since 1992

*Click the image to view full chart.


Source: Office of Environmental Education, Environmental Protection Agency, 2006

A look at the funding breakdown by region reveals that although there is some variation across regions, schools and districts and state government agencies consistently received relatively small percentages of the available grant funding. Schools and districts in EPA Region 4 received the highest proportion of grant money compared with those same entities in other regions. For example, Medlock Elementary School in Georgia received a grant for $4,000 to implement the Georgia Native Plants Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to educate preschool through grade 5 students about the life cycles of plants and flowers, the animals supported by those plants, and the importance of habitat and environmental stewardship. The grant includes workshops to provide teachers with the skills and knowledge necessary for the project.

Percent of Environmental Education Grants Awarded to Schools or Districts and State Agencies by EPA Region

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*Notes: School/district category includes grants awarded to school boards.
EPA Region 2 numbers include data on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
EPA Region 9 numbers include data on American Samoa, Guam, the Republic of Palau, and Saipan.

Source: Office of Environmental Education, Environmental Protection Agency, 2006

State government agencies in Region 9 received the highest percentage of funds from the grant program compared with agencies in other regions. In 2005, the California Integrated Waste Management Board was awarded $91,276 to provide professional development and technical assistance to environmental nongovernment organizations in the state. The professional development is designed to help those organizations align existing environmental education resources with California’s model curriculum and assist teachers with integrating the revised materials into the curriculum. The grant also provided money for the creation of a Web-based environmental education provider database.

States in Region 1 and Region 5 received the lowest percentage of funds for schools and districts and state agencies, respectively, in comparison to other regions. Schools and districts in Region 1 were awarded 4.6 percent of the grant money allocated to that region, while state agencies in Region 5 received just 2.6 percent of the funds.

Although schools, districts, and state agencies are receiving smaller proportions of the grant money than some types of organizations, data suggest that students and educators are the most common audiences of environmental education grants, meaning grants awarded to other types of organizations are reaching educators and students in some way. Overall, more than three fourths of the funding awarded from 1992-2006 went to programs targeting students and/or educators, while programs directed towards the general public received just 24 percent of the available money. * Environmental education programs targeting the general public received less funding in every region than grants aimed at educators and/or students.

* Some grants have multiple audiences. Percents based on dollar amounts that count funding reaching more than one audience in each appropriate category