Awards & contests

Drucker Nonprofit Innovation Awards spotlight social ventures

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Innovation starts with being curious. Calling all the curious!

In its 23rd year, the prestigious Drucker Nonprofit Innovation Awards had 687 applications and 10 finalists, naming one winner last week: HopeLab, a nonprofit that develops games to improve human health and well being.

The finalists have helped to make society more sustainable by addressing pressing human health, education, environmental, and social challenges, such as the availability of safe water.

SBA’s Online Portal Now Accepting 2015 National Small Business Week Awards Nominations

The U.S. Small Business Administration is proud to announce today that SBA’s online portal is ready to accept nominations for its 2015 National Small Business Week Awards, including the annual Small Business Person of the Year award.  SBA has been following the mantra – Smart, Bold and Accessible in the way the agency conducts business.

This is now the third year SBA has been using the online portal submission process, a great and smart improvement from years past. The dedicated web portal provides all the guidelines and has made it much easier to submit and track submissions of nominees for National Small Business Week.

Since 1963, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions to their local communities, and to our nation’s economy. For over 50 years, SBA will continue its tradition in honoring the nation’s 28 million small businesses.

SBA Awards given in celebration of National Small Business Week include the following awards:

  • National Small Business Person of the Year (chosen from among state award winners from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam)
  • Phoenix Awards (recognizing outstanding accomplishments during disaster recovery)
  • Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year
  • Small Business Subcontractor of the Year
  • The Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence (recognizes large prime contractors who have used small businesses as suppliers and contractors)
  • SBA 8(a) Graduate of the Year (for recent graduates of the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program)
    Exporter of the Year
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC)Excellence and Innovation Award (nominations of SBA-funded SBDC Service Centers)
  • Women’s Business Center (WBCs) of Excellence Award (nominations of SBA-funded WBCs)
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award (nominations of SBA-funded Veterans Business Outreach Centers)
  • Small Business Investment Company of the Year

All nominations must be submitted online, postmarked or hand delivered to the SBA no later than 3 p.m. EST, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. In addition to the portal, nominations can also be sent directly to an SBA District Office – for contact information and other District Office information visit online at http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices.

October is Rise Above Plastics Month

Rise Above Plastics Month is a month-long initiative encouraging the public to reduce their plastic footprint and raise awareness about the harmful effects caused by single-use plastics in our marine and coastal environments, including the Great Lakes region. RAP logo

Throughout October, the Surfrider Foundation will ‘Rise Above Plastics’ by providing tips on how you can reduce your plastic footprint and simple ways to implement change in your daily routine. Take the Rise Above Plastics pledge to commit to using less plastics every day.

You can also join your local Surfrider Chapter’s annual plastic trash cleanup and enter Surfrider’s Plastic Art Contest. Show your creativity and help to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. Enter to have a chance to win an epic prize pack including a Firewire Tibertek surfboard or Bureo skateboard, Spy + Surfrider Helm Sunglasses, ChicoBag and Surfrider gear.

The Rise Above Plastics program (RAP) is the Surfrider Foundation’s response to the problem of plastic litter in our ocean and marine environments. The goal of the program is to educate the public on the impacts single-use plastics have on marine environments, and how individuals can make changes in their daily lives and within their communities that will stem the flow of plastics into the environment. RAP also calls upon people to reduce their plastic footprint by reducing or eliminating the use of products such as single-use plastic water bottles and plastic bags.

Some facts about plastics compiled by RAP include:

  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.[1]
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.[2]
  • An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.[3]
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.[4]
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[5]
  • In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.[6]
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.[7]
  • Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
  • Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.[8]
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.[9]

Learn More

Plastics Pollution in the Great Lakes and the Marine Debris Problem
State University of New York researchers collaborated with the Los Angeles-based 5 Gyres Institute to study plastic pollutants in the Great Lakes Region. Read about their project and learn more about the problem of plastics pollution in the world’s water bodies. Newly updated to include recent research and news about microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes.

2014 Green Earth Book Award Winners Announced

The celebration of our 10th annual Read Green Festival kicked off September 18 with the official announcement of the 2014 winners for the Green Earth Book Award, which is a national recognition of authors and illustrators whose books best inspire young readers to appreciate and care for the environment.

The 2014 Winners

Winner – Picture Book

eye of the whaleThe Eye of the Whale – A Rescue Story, written and illustrated by Jennifer O’Connell (published by Tilbury House)

O’Connell describes the rescue of a humpback whale that was found tangled in lines from crab traps miles off the coast of San Francisco. A team to try to save the massive creature. What happened next provides a captivating ending to this unusual tale and will spark discussion of the whale’s ability to experience and demonstrate emotions. O’Connell’s attractive paintings–many of them full spreads, some with insets–show the rescue from above and below the ocean surface and the tiny size of the divers compared with that of the whale, which is shown from many perspectives. Recommended Age: 5 to 10

Winner – Children’s Fiction

true-blue-scouts-of-sugar-man-swamp-9781442421080_hrThe True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, written by Kathi Appelt (published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

Raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. The opportunity to serve the Sugar Man—the massive creature who delights in delicious sugar cane and magnanimously rules over the swamp—is an honor, and a big responsibility  Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn is not a member, but he loves the swamp something fierce, and he’ll do anything to help protect it. And help is needed, because world-class alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn the  swamp into an Alligator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park.  Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist.   Recommended Age: 8-12

Winner – Young Adult Fiction

Washashore front cover.jpgWashashore, written by Suzanne Goldsmith (published by Lucky Marble Books, an imprint of PageSpring Publishing)

Fourteen-year-old Clementine Harper must spend a winter on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her mother. She’s what the locals call a “washashore”—someone who’s come to live on the island but isn’t from there. Far from the city life she knows, her best friend and the father she adores, Clem doesn’t fit in. But when she finds a fallen bird—an osprey—she also finds a role for herself helping to bring back the endangered birds, and learns that there are some things you can’t save and some things you can—like osprey nests and, maybe, a lonely boy named Daniel. Recommended Age:  Age 11-up

Winner – Children’s Nonfiction

Layout 1A Place for Turtles, written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond (published by Peachtree Publishers)

In simple yet informative language, A Place for Turtles introduces young readers to the ways human action or inaction can affect turtle populations and opens kids’ minds to a wide range of environmental issues. Describing various examples, the text provides an intriguing look at turtles, at the ecosystems that support their survival, and at the efforts of some people to save them. At the end of the book, the author offers readers a list of things they can do to help protect these special creatures in their own communities. Recommended Age:  6-10

Winner – Young Adult Nonfiction

InsideaBaldEagle'sNestFrontCoverInside a Bald Eagle’s Nest: A Photographic Journey Through the American Bald Eagle Nesting Season, written by Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie  (published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.)

Take a photographic journey of American Bald Eagles during nesting season. Through breathtaking images captured in eagles’ natural habitats, this factual account offers a rare glimpse into the behaviors and activities of America’s national symbol as it prepares a nest, mates, lays eggs, and raises its young. Travel with adult eagles as they gather nest materials, forage for prey, and ward off intruders into their territory. Inside the nest, observe how eaglets grow from hatchlings into fledglings, and experience first flight. Included are tips for observing eagles and a glossary of terms.  Recommended Age:  13-21

Honor Winners

  • Ellie’s Log:  Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell, written by Judith L. Li and illustrated by M.L. Herring (published by Oregon State University Press)
  • Frog Song, written by Brenda Guiberson and illustrated by Gennady Spirin (published by Henry Holt BYR, Macmillan Children’s)
  • Mousemobile, written by Prudence Breitrose and illustrated by Stephanie Yue (published by Disney Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group)
  • Parrots Over Puerto Rico, written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trombore and illustrated by Susan L. Roth (published by Lee and Low Books)
  • The Lord of Opium, written by Nancy Farmer (published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
  • The Tapir Scientist:  Saving South America’s Largest Mammal, written by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop (published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Climate Action Champions: Request for Applications

From the solicitation:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to advancing the Administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

In recognition of the importance of the dual policy goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing climate resilience, the DOE­ – in close collaboration with other Federal agencies – is launching an initiative to identify and showcase U.S. local and tribal governments that have proven to be climate leaders through pursuing opportunities to advance both of these goals in their communities. In particular, the initiative will select 10-15 U.S. local governments and tribal governments – or regional collaborations or consortia thereof – that demonstrate a strong and ongoing commitment to implementing strategies that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience, with a particular emphasis on strategies that further both goals. The DOE-led effort will provide a platform for other Federal agencies to participate in, and give leverage to, the activities of communities that are selected for this initiative.

The DOE initiative is being led as a combined effort through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the Office of Indian Energy, and the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.

From a story about the Initiative in The Hill:

The federal government will not award any funds as part of the initiative…

The Energy Department will administer the competition, but agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Interior Department will provide specific assistance to the communities…

Specifically, participating communities will get climate data and tools from various federal agencies to help write projections and make planning decisions.

They’ll also be able to participate in a federally organized peer group of communities fighting climate change and have access to Energy Department programs on deploying solar power locally.

For more information:

Google names winners of annual Google Science Fair

Read the full story at ZDNet.

After whittling down a pool of contestants that numbered in the thousands, Google said it has chosen the winners of its annual Google Science Fair.

Google hosts the science and innovation competition for students between the ages of 13-18, and in recent years upped the ante for winners with cash prices and school rewards…

Additional winners include…

Hayley Todesco, 17-18 age category – This Canadian student won for her project Waste to Water: Biodegrading Naphthenic Acids using Novel Sand Bioreactors.

 

Big Data Climate Challenge winners show how big data can drive climate action

The winners of the Big Data Climate Challenge have been announced as part of the buildup to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit on 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York.

The Big Data Climate Challenge winners include a monitoring system that provides real-time information on forests, and a tool for farmers in Colombia that promotes climate-smart agriculture. The winners will be invited to attend the Climate Summit.

The Big Data Climate Challenge is a global competition hosted by United Nations Global Pulse, an initiative of the Secretary-General on big data. The Challenge was launched in May 2014 to unearth fresh evidence of the economic dimensions of climate change around the world using data and analytics. Submissions were received from 40 countries, representing more than 20 topics from forestry, biodiversity and transportation to renewable energy and green data centers.

Two overall Big Data Climate Challenge winners and seven “Projects to Watch” were selected by a high-level Advisory Board and Technical Committee of global experts in climate science, sustainable development and big data. Submissions were evaluated on their use of big data, economic relevance, stakeholder engagement, originality and scalability. The “Projects to Watch” were chosen to highlight particularly innovative uses of big data in emerging topics and geographic regions.

Big Data Climate Challenge Winners

Projects to Watch

  • Urban services monitoring (UrSMS) by development consultancy Taru in collaboration with Surat Municipal Corporation and Urban Health Climate Resilience Center (UHCRC) in India (project site)
  • Big Earth Observation Data for Climate Change Research by a research team at Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences (project site)
  • Using Big Data and Google Directions to show CO2 Emissions from Transport by researchers at University of Skopje Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering and UNDP Macedonia (project site)
  • Development under Climate Change (DUCC), an application of the Systematic Analysis of Climate Resilient Development (SACRED) framework to quantify economic impacts of climate change in South Africa submitted by United Nations University WIDER in Finland
  • SmartSpaces energy monitoring system in municipal buildings by Bristol City Energy Services in the UK as part of a European initiative implemented in 11 cities (project site)
  • Data and Computational Tools to Build Low-Carbon, Sustainable Energy Systems by a research team at Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at University of California Berkeley with projects implemented in United States, South America and Asia
  • Megacities Carbon Project by a research team from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Arizona State University, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), Resources for the Future, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California Institute of Technology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the California Air Resources Board (project site)

Representatives from the two winning teams will be invited to the UN Climate Summit, where their research will be shared with Heads of State as well as global business leaders and civil society leaders. Both of the Big Data Climate Challenge winners and the “Projects to Watch” will be featured on the UN Climate Summit website.

“Big data helps us more deeply understand how climate change can affect our economies, land, health and issues of inequality—with the ultimate aim of delivering solutions, it can empower individuals, communities and policy-makers to make more informed decisions,” said Tracy Raczek, Senior Policy Advisor on Climate in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. “In the case of the Big Data Climate Challenge Winner on climate-smart agriculture, big data gives farmers valuable information on planting times which can lead to more productive growing seasons; and to the other winner, Global Forest Watch, provides multiple end-users timely data on deforestation. This can inform actions that affect short term deforestation, local economies, and long term changes to our climate.”

The Big Data Climate Challenge was inspired by the UN Climate Summit, which will convene leaders from Governments as well as public and private sectors to catalyze climate action. A new wave of climate action powered by big data and analytics is emerging. The Big Data Climate Challenge brings together these fields of big data and climate change in preparation for the Climate Summit. The Big Data Climate Challenge Winners and “Projects to Watch” demonstrate that scalable, data-driven climate solutions exist globally, and such solutions can inspire leaders from all sectors and all parts of the world to galvanize toward a safer, healthier, more equitable and resilient future.