Education and Outreach

Recognizing Innovative E-STEM Programs that Power a Sustainable Tomorrow: The UL Innovative Education Award

This one-of-a-kind recognition program enables nonprofit organizations performing critical, inspiring work in environmentally-focused STEM fields.
Winners of ULIEA Award holding awards

Award seeks to further environmental efforts and spark the interest of tomorrow’s scientists

The UL Innovative Education Award is a first-of-its-kind initiative. More than simply a recognition award program, the UL Innovative Education Award is designed to foster a network and increase the impact of innovative non-profit programs that use environmental education as a pathway to STEM Learning (E-STEM). To achieve this, the UL Innovative Education Award has invested as much as $250,000 annually in a select group of organizations with highly effective E-STEM education, sustainable communities and youth empowerment programs. 

The award program empowers the next generation of leaders to connect with the natural world, develop science-based, sustainable solutions for local communities and turn a capacity for social responsibility into realized social change. With each no-strings-attached grant, award-winning organizations are able to enact ambitious, effective programming.

The UL Innovative Education Award also brings together leaders from each program at the recognition event. There, these leaders are able to learn from the successes and challenges of their peersand have even gone on to create dynamic programs in collaboration with one another. In this process, the UL Innovative Education Award has built a network of highly motivated, skilled and effective E-STEM changemakers.

See the network of award winners here.

Making the environmental connection to STEM

Studying and helping the environment and the world around us is a proven strategy to engage students in learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This approach, referred to as E-STEM, is critical for developing solutions to complex modern problems and lies at the heart of the UL Innovative Education Award. This award recognizes and encourages E-STEM programs that emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving as it applies to urgent environmental issues for youth.  

Environment in the context of the UL Innovative Education Award is defined broadly, including urban, suburban and rural areas, as well as built spaces (such as buildings, workplaces, schools, campuses, etc.). Programs showcased through this award delve into the relationships between the environment and local communities. When thinking of environment, these programs look beyond habitat or species conservation; they champion engineering and design solutions to current day environmental challenges.

“The UL Innovation Education Award matters because we have a chance to shine a spotlight on these outstanding organizations,” says Vice President of Education and Outreach Cara Gizzi. “They are innovating the way we teach our kids, the way we are engaging kids in the environment, and by supporting this work we are creating a more sustainable future.”

As an important element of the award program, UL employees work with the award recipients by lending their expertise in areas of science, technology, engineering and math. By collaborating with the ULIEA winners, UL and these highly regarded organizations can elevate STEM learning, encourage citizenship and social responsibility, and work together towards identifying and solving environmental challenges.

Relevant Resources

RESOURCE #1: UL Innovative Education Award

Fast Facts

  • The UL Innovative Education Award is a collaboration between UL and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) recognizing outstanding not-for-profit organizations focused on E-STEM programming.

  • Not-for-profit organizations in the U.S. and Canada are eligible.

  • Five winning organizations are selected each year to receive monetary recognition awards.