Rockfall Foundation Announces 2012 Grants, Marks 40 Years of Environmental Awards

Mar 13th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Story

Middletown, CT — The Rockfall Foundation has awarded its 2012 grants for environmental projects in Middlesex County, marking the 40th anniversary of its granting program

The foundation has given grants to organizations and towns throughout the county since 1972, when it first awarded funds to support civic beautification projects. Since then, Rockfall grants have provided critical seed money and support for innovative grassroots environmental education, conservation and planning initiatives.

This spring $20,000 is being distributed to schools, municipalities, land trusts and other nonprofit organizations. The majority of the grants will support programs involving children and youth, in pre-K and elementary grades through college

“This year we continue to expand our funding to include children and families that have not been engaged in Rockfall grant projects before,” according to foundation Executive Director, Claire Rusowicz. “In several cases, the communities we are reaching are generally underrepresented in environmental grant-making, according to national funding reports.” These communities include children with special needs and  in lower income settings and schools that have very limited access to environmental enrichment programs and hands-on science learning opportunities.

N.E.A.T.  Kids’ Market shoppers in downtown Middletown from the 2011 season. (Photo courtesy of I. Greenberg/N.E.A.T.)

N.E.A.T. Kids’ Market shoppers in downtown Middletown from the 2011 season. (Photo courtesy of I. Greenberg/N.E.A.T.)

A 2012 grant will support Middletown’s North End Action Team’s (N.E.A.T.) Kids Market, a program that brings local youth to the N.E.A.T.’s downtown Farmers Market to shop and learn about nutrition, budgeting, agriculture, environmental issues and sustainability

“Our goal is to increase the number of kids participating in our market, but more importantly, to create a more curriculum-based program that includes visits by guest speakers and hands-on experiments,” describes Izzi Greenberg, Executive Director of N.E.A.T. “We intend to not only help our kids make healthy and sustainable food choices, but also to give them a chance for education that will last their entire lives.”

Another grant is for a program engaging students at Franklin Academy in East Haddam. The private, college preparatory school, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, is the only high school in the country founded to serve students with Nonverbal Learning Differences (NLD or NVLD) and Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).

“Our Rockfall project will encourage our students to be stewards of the natural world by educating them about the science and history of the Chapman Pond Nature Preserve, located near Franklin,” according to  Dr. Mary L. Murphy,  Franklin Residential Director. “Students will take leadership, within the school and in the wider community, to improve accessibility to the Preserve and increase awareness of all that it offers.”

The Academy project will work in partnership with the county-based Everyone Outside program, which is also receiving 2012 grants to expand its classroom-based and outdoor educational programs. Everyone Outside stresses hands-on learning and exploration, through guided nature walks, field work and in-classroom science enrichment experiences.

A complete list of grant recipients and project descriptions is available on Rockfall’s website Grants are awarded by the foundation annually. Application information and schedules are available by calling the office at (860) 347-0340 or visiting the website.

Founded in 1935 by Middletown philanthropist Clarence S. Wadsworth, Rockfall is named after the large waterfall in Wadsworth Falls State Park. In addition to its grants, the foundation sponsors educational programs, continues to preserve and help sustain open space land holdings in the county and supports the 100-year-old Wadsworth/Kerste deBoer Arboretum, a Wadsworth legacy property on Long Lane (Middletown.)

Rockfall is headquartered in Middletown in the historic deKoven House Community Center, which it maintains and operates as a community center with meeting rooms and office space for locally-based environmental groups.


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