In the state fiscal year 2023 budget, Gov. Phil Murphy and the Legislature allocated $4.5 million to support climate change education grants to schools. The New Jersey Department of Education announced the availability of those grants Feb. 15. Additional information may be found in the NJDOE’s broadcast memo and news release.

The “Climate Awareness Education: Implementing the NJSLS for Climate Change” grants will help schools meet New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation climate-change standards, adopted by the New Jersey State Board of Education in 2020 through continued support and advocacy for climate change initiatives by Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy. The grant is designed to help schools implement hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for students; create “Green Teams” of students and educators to provide leadership and support local initiatives; establish professional development for teachers; and offer curriculum development and instructional materials aligned with the state’s learning standards.

“As New Jersey continues to transition to a green economy, it will be imperative to prepare our students to take on the jobs of the future,” Murphy said. “Our civic leaders, policy makers, journalists, teachers and many others will need climate literacy to successfully achieve our environmental goals. These grants will provide schools with the tools they need to ensure that New Jersey continues to be a leader in the fight against climate change.”

Tammy Murphy championed the effort to incorporate climate change instruction across New Jersey’s learning standards. “Incorporating climate change education across our learning standards was just the first step in our effort to fully prepare New Jersey’s students for the jobs of tomorrow and the challenges they will face as a result of the climate crisis,” she said. “Now, this grant funding will support educators as they develop local initiatives, ideas and classroom-specific lessons.” She added that the learning standards “are more than just a new requirement, they are a symbol of the partnership between generations, and I am excited to see them come to life through our best-in-the-nation educators.”

Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education, believes New Jersey will serve as a model for climate change education throughout the country. “Educators are rising to the challenge of implementing thoughtful, student-centered approaches to build climate-change instruction into the classroom,” she said.

Application Details

All public school districts, charter schools, and renaissance school projects in New Jersey are eligible to apply. Districts that apply will get an equal share of the funding, with the 31 Schools Development Authority districts receiving an additional 15%. The anticipated average award amount is approximately $6,500 for non-SDA districts and approximately $7,500 for SDA districts. On its grants management webpage, the NJDOE indicates that it expects to issue 686 awards from this grant; that is, that it expects to issue an award to every school district, charter school and renaissance school.

The application process will be streamlined to allow grant funding to be distributed for use in the current school year for schools that have programs ready to be implemented. The project period begins April 1, 2023. Funds must be used by June 30, 2023.

The application is available here.

Important guidelines include:

  • Applications must be submitted through the NJDOE’s Electronic Web-Enabled Grant system by 4 p.m. March 17. Please note that the “submit” button in EWEG will disappear at that time.
  • There is a virtual technical assistance session on Friday, Feb 24, at 11 a.m. Register for the session.

Additional Resources

The New Jersey School Boards Association has been ahead of the curve in providing schools resources in this area: In response to the standards change, the Association and Sustainable Jersey convened the Climate Change Education Thought Leader Committee to determine an appropriate plan for implementing these standards statewide.

In February 2022, the organizations released a comprehensive report with dozens of recommendations on how New Jersey schools can incorporate K-12 climate change education throughout the curriculum. The guidance in “Report on K-12 Climate Change Education Needs in New Jersey” will serve as a key resource for the school community to successfully navigate the new learning standards adopted in June 2020, which made New Jersey the first state to incorporate K-12 climate change education across content areas.

For more information on climate education in New Jersey, visit New Jersey Climate Change Education Resources.