What was there to celebrate on a freezing cold evening in the heart of winter in Greenpoint? The kickoff of the Greenpoint Eco Schools program, which was recently awarded funding from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.

To celebrate the funding and the beginning of the program, the National Wildlife Federation invited community members to Cafe Edna’s on Nassau Avenue for drinks and delicious snacks. Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, principals from participating schools, local environmental groups, representatives from City Councilmember Stephen’s Levin’s office, and the GCEF were all on hand to join the night’s festivities.

After quieting down the excited crowd, Joe Lentol gladly addressed the group and congratulated the Eco Schools program on their newly awarded funding. As he put it, “It’s nice to be able to celebrate here in Greenpoint. We don’t always have things to celebrate in Greenpoint. We’ve had our fair share of environmental disasters.” He continued, “I know this will be a beautiful program. I want to thank GCEF – who I sometimes criticize for how they use funds – but I want to thank them for ranking this the second highest project. You’re going to get the best project you ever saw.”

The Greenpoint Eco Schools Program aims to make local schools PS 31, PS 110, PS 34, and MS 126, more efficient by reducing water and energy use, creating less waste, building gardens, and educating the students about the environment. The NWF helped with the grant proposal, bringing their expertise as a national organization and applying it to the needs of the community.

In addition to help from the NWF, the proposal got assistance from the Department of Environmental Protection’s water authority. DEP has been looking to update outdated water systems to reduce waste and saw Greenpoint schools as a great starting point. Educational programs will also be provided for students across the city about how to reduce water waste.


According to the description on the GCEF’s website, the project will fund “Sustainability Coaches” who will work with teachers, students, and principals to increase their knowledge about environmental issues while enhancing their science and technology skills. A representative from GCEF summed up the thought behind the program beautifully, “All environmental recovery is local. You teach the kids and that means you’re teaching the current generation, the past generation, and the future generation.”

As a Greenpointer, it was great witnessing people who had worked so hard coming together to celebrate a happy outcome. The energy in the room was great, you could tell everyone was having a great time and was looking forward to working on the project. The next step is to find a Program Manager for the Eco Schools initiative. But for the evening, celebrating over a drink was more than enough.

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