MassDEP School Recycling Assistance Grant

School Connections worked with Newton Public Schools (NPS) and Newton Department of Public Works (DPW) to prepare a  School Recycling Assistance Grant offered by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), which “provides funding to a municipal or regional school district for implementation of a district-wide recycling program for paper, cardboard, bottles and cans in all schools and administrative offices.”

The application was filed in June 2019 and the announcement is expected by November 2019. If Newton is awarded, the 2020-2021 academic year would be the soonest schools will be able to start achieving important, real, permanent changes in recycling management.

Why Apply for this Grant

A dedicated staff responsible for an effective recycling program is needed to overcome real and perceived barriers that prevent recycling from happening de facto. A robust school recycling program allows students to take action every day to reduce their environmental footprint. It can also inspire students to care about the planet, to examine the processes that we use to make our world sustainable, and to look at the consequences of using resources and generating pollution and waste. An inconsistent program teaches students that environmental issues are not a priority for their community. 

In 2018, a different grant from MassDEP was used by DPW to successfully improve residential recycling in Newton, reducing both contamination (from 18% to 9%) and associated monthly fines of $6,550 paid by the City to Waste Management. It demonstrates that waste reduction and reuse efforts can save money. Schools should also look at waste as an expenditure that can be reduced.

GRANT OVerview


  • Purpose: Funding to a school district for implementation of a district-wide recycling program 
  • Goal: institutionalize effective recycling programs in Massachusetts schools. 
  • Terms: Programs implemented through this grant must be sustained after the grant funding ends. 
  • Use of grant: stipend/funding for dedicated staff to plan and implement recycling. Funds may be used for existing staff, additional staff or contractors, but the funds may not be used for ongoing operating costs and the program must be sustained after the grant funds are expended. 
  • Maximum grant award:  $100,000 
  • May be implemented over a period of up to 3 years (but the total award will not exceed the amount indicated above).  
  • Priority will be given to applicants that include a letter of commitment to implementing a district-wide recycling program with their application, signed by the superintendent, facilities director, principals, municipal fire chief, and local board of health.