Earth Charter Indiana receives USDA grant for statewide expansion of its Thriving Schools Challenge

November 10, 2021

Earth Charter Indiana has received a $225,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that will support expansion of its Thriving Schools Challenge with the development of gardens at K-12 schools throughout the state.

“This USDA gift is the single largest grant we have ever received at our now 20-year-old organization,” said Earth Charter Indiana executive director Jim Poyser in a press release. “COVID has exposed the weaknesses in our food system; our mission is to teach circular economy and self-reliance to Indiana students, as well as empower these students to be leaders — now, not later, when they grow up, but now. This grant will go a long way toward accomplishing those goals.”

This is the third year of the Indy Thriving Schools Challenge program, originally created in partnership with the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability to support a component of Indy’s THRIVE plan to establish sustainability and climate friendly actions throughout the city. This past school year, ECI took sole ownership of the program.

“I am honored and excited to bring Indiana schools into the forefront of sustainability initiatives,” said ITSC program director Tatjana Rebelle in the press release. “Our School Garden Liaison Program not only ensures communities have youth learning on how to grow food and our schools have access to fresh produce, but that our upcoming generation has the tools to advocate for themselves from the soil to the statehouse.”

This USDA grant will support the following: Contracting with farmer-consultants; piloting the School Garden Liaison initiative, the first inception of ECI’s new TSC Youth Leadership Development Program; and along with other support, assisting schools in waste and emissions reduction and the creation of climate focused curriculum for Indiana schools.

Given this increased capacity ECI will change the name of its Indy Thriving Schools program to Indiana Thriving Schools Challenge, to reflect its statewide aspirations.

Earth Charter Indiana receives USDA grant for statewide expansion of its Thriving Schools Challenge