Underwriters Laboratories and North American Association for Environmental Education Launch Fifth Annual UL Innovative Education Award

January 25, 2019

  • Education and Outreach
  • Press Release

Environmental STEM Award Program Accepting Submissions for 2019 Program Until March 12, 2019

NORTHBROOK, Ill./ -- Underwriters Laboratories (UL), in partnership with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), today announced the call for entries period for the fifth UL Innovative Education Award (ULIEA). The award recognizes non-profit organizations across the U.S. and Canada that have made a difference in their communities through their work to advance environmental education through STEM principles (E-STEM). Five winning organizations will be named the ULIEA class of 2019 after all submissions have been reviewed in August 2019.

Applicants for the ULIEA should offer programs that promote learning through STEM priorities, engage all people in civic and social responsibility and identify and find solutions to environmental challenges. Last year's grand prize winner, Techbridge Girls, offers programming to open the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to girls in low-income communities with hands-on environmental projects. From cleaning up a mock oil spill to learning about water filtration, Techbridge Girls' curriculum activates its participants through real-world applications.

Award winners will each receive a monetary award of $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000 and join an impressive network of likeminded ULIEA alumni from the previous four years. In addition, the winners will work with UL employees, including science, engineering, technology and communication experts to build on organizational capacities.

For the past four years, the award has had impressive impacts on youth in these communities and beyond. A report analyzing the impact of the award, which was released earlier this year, found that most previous award winners increased their youth participants by 10-30 percent after winning the award. Additionally, two-thirds of the award winners now collaborate on projects with other winning organizations. For example, the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership partnered with the Chicago Eco House recently to launch a year-long sustainability project surrounding vertical sampling collection in the ocean.

"Over the past four years, our applicant pool and diversity of organizations applying for the UL Innovative Education Award has continued to grow," said Cara Gizzi, Vice President of Education and Outreach, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. "We are excited to begin our search for the 2019 ULIEA winners and are eager to learn about the impact they've had in their individual communities and learn from how they are educating the potential scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders of tomorrow."

ULIEA annually awards $250,000 to organizations that demonstrate effective educational benefits and community engagement. Previous winners have used the award money in a variety of ways to extend their reach, scale their programs or launch new learning initiatives. For instance, New York Sun Works, the 2016 ULIEA grand prize winner, used the money they received to develop an online platform for teachers to house training videos, curriculum and other materials essential for their programming. Another past winner, The Wild Center's Adirondack Youth Climate Program, used part of the funds to fund more student projects and connect rural youth with leaders to learn about new green job pathways.

"Hundreds of non-profit organizations across the country are doing amazing work specific to expanding environmental education opportunities," said Christiane Maertens, Deputy Director for NAAEE. "It's imperative that we continue to provide today's youth with skills and opportunities in E-STEM, and honoring organizations that do just that is one small way to encourage them to continue their inspiring missions."   

The 2019 winners will convene in summer 2019 for a leadership summit. The summit provides the opportunity to meet other winners, share best practices, network with other winning organizations and work with professionals from UL and NAAEE to further their causes.  

To learn more about the UL Innovative Education Award, or apply before the March 12, 2019 deadline, please visit ulinnovationeducation.naaee.net.