How ULIEA Winner NYSW is Making the Most of Their Grant

Curious how ULIEA winners use their grant money? See how this nonprofit turned $100,000 into an online learning hub.

We are so thrilled to introduce The Learning Center - NY Sun Works' new educational hub that supports teachers and educators participating in the nonprofit's signature program: The Greenhouse Project.

NY Sun Works (NYSW) is a non-profit organization that builds innovative science labs in urban schools. Those participating in their Greenhouse Project Initiative use hydroponic farming technology to educate students and teachers about science and sustainability. We are proud to call this innovative nonprofit our ULIEA 2016 grand prize winner (meaning we granted them $100,000 to expand their E-STEM programs.)


Enter the NY Sun Works Learning Center.

NYSW put their ULIEA grant toward building an online system that would aggregate their educational resources and improve participation in their programs. The Learning Center hosts K-12 grade Discovering Sustainability Science curriculum, training videos, and other resources to help teachers and educators make the most of The Greenhouse Project experience. This move away from traditional hard copies to a dynamic online version will provide easy access to all content including stunning images, educational videos and links to additional resources.

The Learning Center also offers a professional development section filled with training videos explaining how to use the classrooms' hydroponic technology. NYSW usually provides on-site training, but the easy-to-access videos will help teachers quickly troubleshoot the most common issues on their own.

Needless to say, NYSW is excited to introduce their partner schools to The Learning Center - a project two years in the making. "We hope The Learning Center will provide the necessary scaffolding for program implementation as we continue on our mission to educate urban students and teachers about the science of sustainability while using hydroponic farming technology as a hands on approach to education," said NYSW's Executive Director Manuela Zamora.


To celebrate The Learning Center coming online, NYSW hosted a launch party on Friday, October 13 at Project Farm House in New York City. Roughly 150 students, teachers, principals and supporters attended including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna and reps from the ULIEA and NAAEE teams.

Guests live-demoed The Learning Center, powered their own slushies by riding a bike, and sampled pesto (made from the schools' hydroponic crops!) from The Brooklyn Lab and a hydroponic salad from field-trip partner Gotham Greens.

Many guests were excited to try the system first hand. "This online curriculum is wonderful. This is a great way to see the lessons and easy to see what is coming next," said Jodi, a partner teacher. A partner principal also took note of the new technology: "I can’t wait to share this resource with my teachers. Not only will they love the extensive content but they will love being able to project or download the media."

All of NYSW's 74 partner schools - they welcomed 22 new schools this summer alone! - will be able to access The Learning Center and NYSW has already trained over 300 teachers who will be able to to use the system. Learn more about The Learning Center HERE.

If schools are interested in becoming a NYSW partner, they can download a FAQ guide HERE and contact NYSW to start a Greenhouse Project program at their school. (Access to the Learning Center is currently restricted to classrooms participating in The Greenhouse Project.)