Hampstead Hill Academy, a Baltimore Curriculum Project public charter school, is in the running to be named America's Green Hero for its efforts to make East Baltimore a better – and greener – place to live.
The school's Food for Life program recently applied for the Green Hero grant through The Clorox Company, makers of Green Works natural cleaners, and Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots program.
What makes this grant program unique is that winners are decided by a vote on Green Works' Facebook page.
Besides Hampstead Hill Academy, there are five finalists vying for the $15,000 first prize and $5,000 runner-up grants.
"This grant will make a big difference in our program, so we are encouraging everyone to vote every day," said Chrissa Carlson, Director of the Food for Life program.
Carlson said the school's grant proposal focuses specifically on connecting students with the larger green movement and bringing lessons to the students’ homes.
The Food for Life program teaches Hampstead Hill students, staff and community the broad impact of their food choices. Through its on-site organic gardening club, nutritious cooking classes, and community dinners Food for Life promotes an understanding of the natural world and resource conservation.
Hampstead Hill Academy is located in an ultra-urban, low-income community with few trees and yards.
“The school’s garden provides a safe haven for students and the community to study the natural world while offering families a source of fresh organic food and a respite from the harsh reality of urban life.” said Carlson.
Voting for the Green Hero ends on April 18 and the winners will be announced on April 22 or the date of Earth Day 2010.
David Kargas, senior group manager of public relations for The Clorox Company, said 398 schools, organizations and individuals submitted grant applications. Judges later cut the list down to 15 in three categories.
"Now it's up to 15 finalists and their supporters to get the word out and convince people to cast their votes and make them a Green Hero," said Kargas, in a prepared statement.
Votes can be cast at www.facebook.com/greenworks. Facebook doesn't charge to be a member, and Carlson said voters only need an e-mail account to register.