KENNEBUNK, Maine, Nov. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Is there one inspiring school project that will always stick with you? Lessons learned in the classroom often last a lifetime, which is the idea behind the new "Green Your School Fund" created by Tom's of Maine in partnership with Donorschoose.org. Teachers across the country were tasked with submitting classroom projects that help kids care for the planet and learn about pressing environmental issues in their community like air and water quality and sustainable agriculture.
A portion of the "Green Your School Fund" was set aside for an innovation challenge, where teachers were asked to come up with exceptionally creative green projects. The top prize of $25,000 in classroom funding goes to a project idea from Cleveland Elementary School in Cleveland, NC. As determined by a nationwide public vote, the winning project teaches students sustainability as they learn to build vertical hydroponic gardens that use a solar powered water system and composted foods left over from student lunches to help the garden thrive.
"Providing our young people with real world experiences and ways to solve important problems now will foster a love of learning and give them a competitive edge in becoming future problem solvers," said Lynn Bradley, the instructional technology teacher at Cleveland Elementary School who submitted the project. "We all need a champion to make a lasting impression that validates what we do as educators, whether it is by molding our talents, opening our eyes to a new idea or leading by example. This school year, Tom's of Maine has proven that sharing their passion for environmental stewardship through philanthropy can change the lives of many. Our learning will never be the same!"
In second place, receiving $15,000 in classroom funding, is a project submitted by first grade teacher Holly Taylor from Adams Elementary School in Wichita, KS to improve air quality and combat the school's growing asthma problem by having students create air-filtration devices.
The third place winner, receiving $10,000 in classroom funding, is a project submitted by sixth grade teacher Lori Barr from Pinewood Elementary School in Jenison, MI, which will allow students to examine bacteria in their local lake and explore ways to make it once again safe for swimming.
The other seven finalists, each receiving $2,000 in classroom funding, were submitted by teachers from Ashford School in Ashford, CT; Buddy Taylor Middle School in Palm Coast, FL; Cummings School in Memphis, TN; Ella White Elementary School in Alpena, MI; Nauset Regional Middle School in Orleans, MA; Polo Park Middle School in Wellington, FL; and Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill, CA.
The ten finalists selected for the public vote were chosen from more than 250 projects submitted by teachers from 41 states by a panel of judges that included musician and actor Kevin Jonas; enterprise editor and senior reporter at The Huffington Post, Kate Sheppard; CEO of TerraCycle, Tom Szaky; 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes; and founder of the I am the Maven® blog, Kerri Jablonski.
"It's exciting to see so many teachers who are passionate about the planet and we were impressed by how many classroom projects focused on very real sustainability issues in their community," said Nancy Pak, general manager of Tom's of Maine. "We hope teachers across the country will consider replicating these projects in their own classrooms as we still have funding left, or they can put their own creative twist on teaching kids about how to care for the earth."
"Green Your School for the Greater Good" is DonorsChoose.org's largest environment campaign to date. Any teacher who submits a green classroom project on DonorsChoose.org will automatically see project donations matched by Tom's of Maine, up to $2,000. To date, more than 650 classroom projects have been funded through the program, benefitting over 120,000 students nationwide. The public can continue to help support these environmental projects in classrooms across the nation by contributing at DonorsChoose.org/greenschoolfund. While funds last, teachers can also visit help.donorschoose.org/hc/en-us/articles/218574957-Tom-s-of-Maine-Green-Your-School-Fund-Innovation-Challenge to learn how to submit their own environmental classroom ideas.
"Students today want to learn from the world around them, which requires more than textbooks and chalkboards," said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org. "The 'Green Your School Fund' encourages teachers to inspire their students with complex science lessons, revealing how these future leaders can find solutions and take care of the world we share."
Tom's of Maine gives 10% of its profits back to helping people and the planet. Employees are encouraged to give 5% of paid time to volunteer. Additional information is available at tomsofmaine.com/greenschoolfund.
About Tom's of Maine Tom's of Maine is a leading natural products company focused on oral and personal care, carrying high quality toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, deodorant, antiperspirant, bar soap, body wash, body lotion, hand cream, lip balm and baby care products. The company has a long-standing commitment to supporting people, communities and the living planet. For over 45 years, Tom's of Maine has supported hundreds of nonprofit efforts by giving 10% of its profits back to organizations that support human and environmental goodness and by encouraging employees to use 5% (12 days) of employee time to volunteer. Tom's of Maine employees regularly contribute suggestions for improving the company's high sustainability standards. And their ideas, from wind power to ways to improve recycled and recyclable packaging options, are critical to the company's sensitive way of doing business. Most Tom's of Maine products are vegan, kosher, halal-certified and gluten-free. All packaging is recyclable through a partnership with upcycling leader TerraCycle or participating municipalities. Tom's of Maine enjoys partnering with its consumers, suppliers and community organizations to support lasting, positive change that is good for people and the planet. Visit us online at http://www.tomsofmaine.com/ or at http://www.facebook.com/TomsofMaine.
About DonorsChoose.org Founded in 2000 by a Bronx history teacher, DonorsChoose.org has raised more than $460 million for America's classrooms. Teachers come to DonorsChoose.org to request the materials and experiences they need most for their classrooms, and donors give to the projects that inspire them. More than 2 million people and partners have funded 780,000 projects on the site, reaching nearly 20 million students and making DonorsChoose.org the leading platform for supporting U.S. public schools. DonorsChoose.org is the only crowdfunding platform that vets each request, delivers materials directly to schools, and captures the impact of every funded project with photos, thank yous, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. In 2014, DonorsChoose.org made the top 10 of Fast Company's list of the World's Most Innovative Companies, the first time a charity has received such recognition. Learn more at www.donorschoose.org.