Ecology Center Wins Grant for Dearborn Recycling Program

The Ecology Center has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation to promote education and action on community recycling in Dearborn Public Schools. The Dearborn Education and Action on Recycling program, or DEAR, seeks to use Dearborn’s schools as agents of community and environmental change by reducing the amount of contamination in Dearborn’s recycling system. DEAR is a collaboration between the Ecology Center, Recycle Ann Arbor, the City of Dearborn and Dearborn Public Schools, and designed to invite people from diverse ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds to join the recycling movement.

“The expectation is that the unique partnership between the City of Dearborn, Dearborn Public Schools, the Ecology Center and Recycle Ann Arbor will yield some insight and experience on what programs, services, educational efforts and community outreach will not only produce greater recovery and awareness in the schools themselves but also in the surrounding neighborhoods where student recycling commitment can shape positive household recycling behaviors,” Bryan Weinert, Director of Strategy at Recycle Ann Arbor, said of DEAR’s 2015-2016 pilot program.

The grant money will aid the DEAR program to provide classes to public school students in everything from sorting recyclables to natural resource and energy conservation, as well as information on careers and cultural recycling practices. All information provided will be culturally appropriate, addressing the diverse background of Dearborn’s community, and the public school classes will be tailored to different age groups. Additionally, a Master Recycling Educator class will be offered to 48 adults.

By working through the public school system, the DEAR program is able to affect community change on two fronts. First, the program will help schools as institutional recyclers to reduce the recycling contaminants they put into the recycling system, increase the amount of appropriately recycled materials, do away with many waste bins and dumpsters and save money. Second, educating students will help them to bring excitement and knowledge about recycling back to their families and the larger community. Students can educate their parents, grandparents, extended family, and friends about the benefits of recycling and proper recycling practices. They’ll learn that it’s never too early, or too late, to start reducing waste and recycling responsibly.

The provider of the grant, the Aetna Foundation is a philanthropic organization that provides grants to nonprofits that are working to improve public health. The Ecology Center was awarded this grant as part of the Aetna Foundation’s Cultivating Healthy Communities program, which provided $2 million in grants to nonprofits. By supporting the Ecology Center and the DEAR program, they’re helping provide recycling education and training to the Dearborn community, whose members want to reduce waste and participate in community recycling, but until now have lacked educational resources to do so.

Published on September 28, 2016