Jersey Give Back Guide: Sustainable Jersey

December 22, 2014

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Throughout December, we are highlighting each of the organizations featured in our Jersey Give-Back Guide, an online portal for year-end giving that makes it easy to donate to some of New Jersey’s most effective nonprofits. Today we feature Sustainable Jersey.

Community2Organization name: Sustainable Jersey

Connect: Website | @SJ_Program | Facebook 

Communities served: 419 New Jersey towns are currently participating in the municipal program and 86 percent of NJ’s population lives in these communities.

Founded: 2009

Make a year-end donation: Click here

SJ Community in actionWHAT WE DOSustainable Jersey is a nonprofit organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs. Currently, 419 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities are participating in the municipal sustainability certification program.

In October 2014, Sustainable Jersey for Schools was launched in partnership with New Jersey School Boards Association and other statewide educational organizations to certify public schools.

By supporting community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equity, Sustainable Jersey is empowering communities to build a better world for future generations.

Here’s a glance at what we offer:

  • Free Workshops and Technical Support: Training, monthly workshops and technical support is provided to communities in order to build general capacity and effectiveness of local governments and green teams for implementing the program. In 2014, over 1,900 people participated in 55 free Sustainable Jersey workshops and trainings. Over 400 participants attended a Sustainable Jersey Regional Hub event to strengthen regional collaboration. Sustainable Jersey is working with five regional hub locations: Atlantic-Cape May Counties, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County and Camden-Burlington-Gloucester Counties.
  • Small Grants Program: Sustainable Jersey provides funding to local governments for sustainability projects. To date, nearly $1.8 million has been awarded through the 2009-2014. Over 225 grants have been given to New Jersey municipalities for sustainability projects to make communities more livable, environmentally friendly and prosperous.
  • New Jersey Based and Consensus Driven: The technical content of the program’s certification actions are developed with the help of task forces that comprise New Jersey state local officials, experts, non-profit groups, and members of the business community. Recommended best practices/actions are vetted with local government officials.

WHY WE’RE GREAT: Sustainable Jersey has fundamentally reframed the dialogue on sustainability, conservation and livable communities in the Garden State. Sustainable Jersey brings people, government officials, schools and partners together for a common purpose — to make New Jersey and our world more sustainable. Over the last few years, municipalities across New Jersey, big and small, democratic and republican controlled, urban, rural and suburban towns, now 171 strong, have made a real difference with new recycling, clean water, energy efficiency and many other programs that have improved the quality of life of their residents and the state as a whole.

Sustainable Jersey is leading the way in helping municipalities, and now schools, to learn and apply best practices in sustainability. The organization has worked with public and private partners to develop local best practices for over 100 sustainability actions, committed nearly 1.8 million dollars in small grants to over 225 community projects in 21 counties. Collectively Sustainable Jersey communities have implemented well over 5,000 documented sustainability initiatives. New Jersey is increasingly recognized globally as a leader in local sustainability. The urgency could not be greater, and Sustainable Jersey continues to step up to the enormous challenges: providing leadership, standards, performance metrics, guidance, resources, and appropriate levels of certification and recognition for those who are just starting on the journey, as well as to those who are more advanced.

Sustainable Jersey’s Small Grants Program allows municipalities to continue to innovate despite continuing economic strictures on the local level. The entire Sustainable Jersey regimen is a source of progress for towns environmentally, socially and economically.

HOW YOUR DONATION WILL HELP: Supporting Sustainable Jersey through an individual donation or corporate sponsorship is a clear way to demonstrate your support for a healthy and sustainable New Jersey and world. Together, we can provide communities with the tools and resources they need to work toward the future we want.

As a standards setting organization, we have a fundraising strategy that is designed to protect our independent decision making. Our goal is to have one-third of our funding from corporations and the private sector/individuals, one-third from government sources and one-third from philanthropic foundations. Our fundraising balance enables us to be independent, and not beholden to any one source of funding or sector of funding.

ADDITIONAL NEEDS: Get involved. You can join efforts already in your town — or lead the charge to making your town more sustainable. Here are two ways to get involved:

  • Sustainable Jersey Task Force: Over 300 leaders in New Jersey volunteer to serve on the Sustainable Jersey Task Forces from academia, the non-profit sector, the business community, and state, local, federal, and county government. The task forces research and disseminate best practices, translate global and state imperatives into local actions, test sustainability planning models and develop community resources for the program.
  • Sustainable Jersey Green Teams: Join your local green team. Each green team represents a municipality in New Jersey that is registered with Sustainable Jersey. Green teams provide the leadership to develop plans, implement programs and assist with educational opportunities that support the creation of a sustainable community.


The Dodge Foundation is offering $1,000 challenge grants to each of the organizations featured in the Jersey Give-Back Guide. To be eligible, each organization must receive at least 50 donations through the Guide by December 31st. Help them reach their goal and get that extra $1,000!