College environmental center receives grant

Environment-friendly has also proved wallet-friendly for the College’s Municipal Land Use Center.

The center received $170,000 this month from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which kicked off the new year by doling out grants to 63 state organizations. The foundation has spent 30 years funding projects “which transcend self-interest and contribute to a sustainable human society and the environment which shelters it,” according to its Web site.

The land use center’s grant will help support the Sustainable Jersey program, according to center Community Planner Donna Drewes.

“It’s sort of a soup to nuts how to do things,” Drewes said. “We’re looking to create incentives.”

The Sustainable Jersey program achieves this by providing training and resourses for local towns and cities trying to make the switch to a green commnuity.

“There’s a lot of cool stuff going on,” Drewes said.

That includes the creation of a municipal government certification program that will teach local leaders how to maintain environmentally-friendly policies.

“It’s a huge change for a community to take on,” Drewes said.

The Sustainable Jersey program is supported not only by the College’s land use center, but by agencies throughout the state.

Drewes said the center also offers direct, hands-on assistance.

“Our center has been working to support local governments” pro bono, she said.

Though the center assists with College President R. Barbara Gitenstein’s Climate Commitment Committee, Drewes said it does not get direct financial help from the school, making the grant all the more important.

“This is really huge,” Drewes said, noting that $170,000 is a raise from the $125,000 received last year. “It’s a huge jump.”

The spike in funding could not have come at a better time.

“It’s extremely important,” Drewes said. “Our center . is 100 percent grant-funded.”

She said that the College does make some allowances to help the center remain in its current location on campus.

Drewes said the increase in the grant was heartening news with the economy slacking. But it doesn’t put the center completely out of financial danger.

Drewes added, “We’re looking really for very diverse support.”