Linking the Arts with School Sustainability Efforts

Linking the Arts with School Sustainability Efforts

By Heather McCall, Program Director Sustainable Jersey for Schools / 609-771-2469


The Sustainable Jersey for Schools program is a free and voluntary certification program for Pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade public and charter schools in New Jersey. The program encompasses three interrelated components of sustainability: people, planet and prosperity. Several Sustainable Jersey for Schools program actionspromote the arts in education. 

Sustainable Jersey for Schools has awarded over $1.6 million dollars in grants over the past four years to support sustainability projects in schools, including several projects focused on the arts.

“Play It Again, Toms River”

Toms River Regional School District received a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funded by the PSEG Foundation to rehabilitate musical instruments that have fallen into disrepair and can no longer be used by students.  Once rehabilitated, the newly fixed instruments will increase equitable access to the music program for fourth and fifth grade students across twelve elementary schools who would like to play an instrument but would otherwise not be able to rent or buy one due to financial constraints. “Play It Again, Toms River”has a strong community component, as part of the program Garden State Philharmonic will be providing ticket discounts for students and their parents. In addition, the Garden State Music Center of Toms River will be awarding a scholarship that includes a used instrument and six months of lessons.

Millbridge Elementary School (Delran) “Buddy Bench”

Working in partnership with Perkins Center for the Arts, a teaching artist worked with students to create tiles representing local flora and fauna. These tiles were then used on an outdoor “buddy bench” where students can sit during recess to signal that they are looking for a playmate.

Are you interested in strengthening your district’s art programs in cooperation with the Sustainable Jersey for Schoolsprogram?

As the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Program Director, Heather oversees program development and management of the newly created schools initiative. Heather’s role with the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program builds on over 10 years of work empowering community based nonprofits. Prior to joining the Sustainable Jersey, Heather worked as the Assistant State Coordinator for the NJ Department of Community Affairs’ Main Street New Jersey & Improvement Districts Program, where she worked closely with volunteer driven downtown revitalization programs providing technical assistance and training throughout the state.  Heather received a B.A. from University of Alaska, a M.C.P. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, and holds a Charrette Facilitation & Management Certification from the National Charrette Institute.  Since 2007, she has been a Senior Fellow with the Washington D.C. based Environmental Leadership Program. Heather can be reached at 609-771-2469 and by email at  

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