San Diego, California - UL, in partnership with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), today announced five recipients of this year’s annual UL Innovative Education Award (ULIEA). These nonprofit organizations have made a difference in their communities through their work to advance environmental education via STEM principles (E-STEM). As a result, they will each receive a monetary award between $25,000 and $100,000 and join an impressive network of like-minded ULIEA alumni. In addition, the winners will be paired with UL employees, including science, engineering and technical experts, to help build upon their existing successes.

The 2018 award winners include the ‘Alalā Reintroduction Community Inquiry Program ($25,000 award recipient). Spearheaded by San Diego Zoo Global, this program provides Hawaii-based students with the opportunity to help inform the reintroduction of  the critically endangered ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow), while also learning about its ecological significance.

ULIEA is open each year to nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada that advance E-STEM, sustainable communities and youth empowerment. This year, there were applicants from 33 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. The proposals submitted as part of the 2018 program were particularly impressive and exhibited the measurable impact each program has had on its participants, said Cara Gizzi, UL’s director of public safety education and outreach.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the 2018 Innovative Education Award winners for their efforts to elevate E-STEM in their communities and empower youth to become changemakers through environmental problem-solving,” Gizzi said. “These five organizations join a group of past ULIEA winners who have an opportunity to collaborate with one another to further extend E-STEM education and opportunities for today’s youth.”

ULIEA annually awards $250,000 to organizations that demonstrate effective educational benefits and community engagement. Past winners have promoted E-STEM in a variety of ways, including teaching youth about sustainability and agriculture in urban environments, building science labs in urban public schools using hydroponic farming technology, providing hands-on education programming aboard “floating classrooms,” teaching students the skills to achieve zero waste standards in cafeterias, and much more. This year marks the millionth dollar donated to deserving nonprofit education organizations since the program’s inception four years ago.

Previous winners have used the award money in a variety of ways, to extend their reach, scale their programs or launch new learning initiatives. For instance, SPARK, a nature-based family learning program that operates as a part of Chincoteage Bay Field Station, was able to purchase a minibus to help transport families on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and ensure they have consistent access to the program, and opportunities to participate. Another past winner, NY Sun Works, an organization that builds innovative science labs in urban schools, used the award to build an online learning center that hosts K-12 grade-level Discovering Sustainability Science curriculum, training videos and other resources to help teachers and educators make the most of the program.

“This year’s winners are leading the charge in providing innovative and accessible learning opportunities to youth in need,” said Christiane Maertens, NAAEE’s deputy director. “We’re proud to celebrate the fourth year of our partnership with UL and look forward to meeting the leaders of these inspiring organizations in person.”

The 2018 winners will convene Aug. 8-10 for a leadership summit. The summit provides each winner the opportunity to network with other organizations and work with professionals from UL and NAAEE to further their causes. 

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.