ST Events

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Climate Change Education in Tompkins County Schools

Elizabeth Altier, Dryden High School Class of 2015 and PRI intern, presents Travis Crocker with the guide. Photo provided.

Effective local action to address climate change requires a populace to understand  the complex science and social dimensions of this global threat. To this end, the Ithaca-based Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) created The Teacher-Friendly Guide™ to Climate Change and is engaged in an ongoing effort to distribute it to all high school science teachers in the United States, countering the Heartland Institute’s 2017 nationwide distribution of classroom materials rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change. In December 2017, the PRI received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to print guides for all high school science teachers in Tompkins County.

Dryden High School teacher Travis Crocker, who teaches Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Astronomy, relayed the importance of teaching climate science in an interview with PRI Senior Education Associate Alexandra Moore.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sign Up With Us For Community Solar: It’s a True Win-Win!

Exciting news! We now have an opportunity to help you be part of the climate solution while keeping Sustainable Tompkins innovating and leading.

With the help of our partner, Bullrock Solar, we’ve designed a Community Solar program that can bring clean solar power to your home AND provide ST with the financial support to keep us on the front lines of building a sustainable future.

When you sign up, you will be able to use solar-generated electricity throughout your home, without changing utilities or installing roof-top panels, and get an electricity price that is 10% below NYSEG’s rate. The unique feature of this program: you can choose to have Bullrock Solar donate your 10% savings from going solar to support ST, or have them reduce your own electric bill by the same amount.

Either way, you can shrink your carbon footprint and protect our environment, without panels on your roof or costs of any kind. Whether you own your home or rent, you can still participate. Plus, the solar farm is nearby in Chemung County.


Sign up and make a difference. Solar has never been so convenient. We hope you will support us with your tax-deductible donation of your solar savings, but if you need the savings yourself – that’s fine – we just hope you’ll be part of the transition to Local Clean Energy!

Learn more at Sustainable Tompkins Community Solar.

Our First Zero Carbon Offset Grant!

Adrienne Cook and her cat Nina.

Adrienne Cook is well on her way to a zero carbon home. She owns a rare 1950 Sears Roebuck “kit house” in the Town of Ithaca. Despite the small size of the 2-bedroom house, the fuel oil boiler was costing close to $3000/yr to heat the home. 

Snug Planet set her up with highly efficient air source heat pumps to both heat and cool the home, and provide hot water. ETM Solar will come in the spring to put 7.2 kw of solar panels on her roof to power the home. We gave our 28th Climate Fund grant of $2,213 for her offset of 89 tons of CO2 from these projects.

Let’s make sure everyone gets a chance to participate in the clean energy transition!  Visit FingerLakesClimateFund.org to day and offset your carbon emissions and help more folks like Adrienne shrink their carbon footprint.

Watch Adrienne tell her story here.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Applications Due March 1

Do you have an idea for a project to make our community more sustainable, resilient, or inclusive? Need a little help in covering the costs? Sustainable Tompkins is accepting applications for our spring round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants. Applications are due March 1.


The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program provides support for initiatives promoting environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County. 

Grants range from $150-$750 and have been awarded to diverse entities for locally-based initiatives sustainable food systems, alternative transportation, waste reduction/reuse, energy conservation/fossil fuel use reduction, and environmental education, and addressing social and economic inequality. Proposals are reviewed quarterly by a team of community members. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, Craig Riecke, and local donors.

Individuals, organizations, and neighborhood groups are welcome to apply, as are local microbusinesses seeking to green their operations or extend their products or services to low-income clientele. 
Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in recent years include founding of the Freeville Farmers Market, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, distribution of the Paleontological Research Institution’s Teacher-Friendly™ Guide to Climate Change to all public high school science teachers in Tompkins County, and creation of an Ithaca Murals equipment lending library for artists and community members creating murals that reflect the demographics, values, and stories of Ithaca’s residents.

Applications are due on or before March 1, 2019. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please contact sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.


It’s Time to Seal the Cracks Again!

It is that time of year again – every fall and winter we ask you to help us Seal the Cracks in homes across the Finger Lakes Region, doing our part in fighting climate change while helping others in need.

Working together we are making a difference across our region. For every ton of your CO2 emissions that you offset, we will help a lower-income family make their home more energy efficient and take that ton of CO2 back out of the atmosphere. We’ve now given out 29 grants worth $47,738 to offset 2,286 tons of CO2 from our donors’ travel and building emissions.We recently passed the Five Million mark for pounds of CO2 removed from the atmosphere and look forward to awarding more of our Fund in local grants.

It is super easy: go to FingerLakesClimateFund.org and start thinking back over the past year… where did you travel and have you taken responsibility for the carbon emissions from your trips? How about your business or your home? (You can reach zero carbon by offsetting the remaining fossil fuel use in your buildings.) Read the rest of this entry »

Our ‘Keep It Cool Tompkins’ Team to Present Findings

Last spring we awarded our first Youth Climate Challenge Grant to Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman for their ‘Keep It Cool Tompkins‘ project to educate local businesses about the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase out high global warming potential refrigerants. This amazing duo is doing upperclass college level work, and our team of climate professionals and teachers are immensely impressed by their vision, intelligence, and initiative.

Tilden and Abigail will be presenting their findings thus far to the monthly Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative next Friday, December 14, at 9 am at the county library.  TCCPI hosts a monthly meeting for local energy professionals and nonprofit groups addressing climate change and the transition to clean energy.  They’ll be sharing their plans for a ‘green chill’ summit for regional businesses later this winter.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Application Deadline December 1

Do you have an idea for a project to make our community more sustainable, resilient, or inclusive? Need a little help in covering the costs? Sustainable Tompkins is accepting applications for our winter round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants. Applications are due December 1.

The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program provides support for initiatives promoting environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County. Read the rest of this entry »

Our 24th Climate Fund grant helps Caroline family

Our 24th Climate Fund grant award went to Brandon and Lyla White and their charming daughter Rosemary. The White Family lives in a 70’s era home in the Town of Caroline. Like so many houses of that time, it was poorly insulated and still had the same really expensive electric baseboard heat of those ‘cheap energy’ times. After they moved in a couple years ago, they got their first shockingly high electric bill and knew they had to make some changes.

Snug Planet helped them come up with a plan to address their biggest energy problems and had them apply to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund for assistance. They put their $1291 grant toward the removal of 52 tons of CO2 by sealing and insulating their attic and the cantilever over the basement floor and toward a new Air Source Heat Pump that is heating AND cooling their home for pennies compared to the high price of the baseboard heating system and an old style window air conditioner. (Listen to them tell their story here.)

Thanks to all of our carbon offsetters for helping the Whites improve their home’s carbon footprint!  We are in our usual ‘Seal the Cracks’ fall campaign where we ask you to think back over the past summer and remember all the travels you took.  Then go to our FingerLakesClimateFund.org and take responsibility for the emissions associated with that travel by making an offset.  It’s quick, easy, and affordable – plus you will get to be part of the community that is helping families like the Whites shrink their carbon footprint while making their household economy so much more resilient.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Recycling by the Family Reading Parnership

Photo provided by the Family Reading Partnership

Sometimes a small investment can have a large impact on an organization or business’s operations, raising efficiency while reducing environmental impacts. The Family Reading Partnership, a Danby-based organization devoted to distributing children’s books throughout Tompkins County, has long taken its recyclables to the Tompkins County Recycling and Solid Waste Center, a 14-mile round trip made by the volunteers who also provide vital program assistance and administrative support. In September 2017, the Family Reading Partnership received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase two heavy-duty lidded recycling bins in which large volumes of material — primarily cardboard from shipments of books – could be securely left outdoors for curbside pickup.

This has reduced the organization’s carbon footprint and freed its volunteers to focus their time on its programs, facilitating more book distribution. A strengthened commitment to recycling has inspired successful efforts to reduce the amount of recyclable waste produced.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Craig Riecke, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, and local donors. We need your support so we can help more citizen leaders act on their values. Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.

Neighborhood Mini-Grants Support Storytelling and Gardening Gatherings

From addressing large-scale social justice issues to helping individuals grow their own food, organizations can bring people together to build more connected, resilient communities in many ways. In September 2018, two Neighborhood Mini-Grants totaling $600 were awarded to Civic Ensemble and the Floral Avenue Community Garden.

Civic Ensemble, an Ithaca-based theatre company devoted to exploring and addressing social, cultural, and political issues, has long used public story circles to develop its plays and programs while strengthening local communities. But its new story circle series Community Soup: Storytelling Toward the Beloved Community focuses on connecting people of all demographics, giving space for all voices and empowering the public to collaborate on working against discrimination and economic inequality. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will support the first two of these monthly gatherings.

The Floral Avenue Community Garden on Ithaca’s West Hill will host a Community Perennial Planting Workshop in October 2018, where participants will receive education in cultivation and use of food-producing perennial plants, assist in planting the garden with them, and take home seeds and plantings, using a wide variety of herbs, bushes, and trees. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will pay for the plants, fencing, and event promotion.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Craig Riecke, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, and local donors. We need your support so we can help more citizen leaders act on their values. Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.