U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres Awards $800,000 in Community Project Funding to New York Sun Works

Oct 30, 2023
Press

BRONX, N.Y. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) today awarded $800,000 in Community Project Funding to New York Sun Works, a local nonprofit dedicated to integrating the science of sustainability and climate education into K-12 urban schools.

The funding, which Rep. Torres successfully secured in the final Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, will provide new, state-of-the-art hydroponic classrooms at 20 additional South Bronx public schools in order to teach science, sustainability, climate education, and nutrition while students grow hundreds of pounds of food to share with their families and communities. Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil.

“The Bronx is the most resilient and resourceful county in the United States, and the students of the Bronx should have access to the same educational opportunities that are available to students elsewhere in the city,” said U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “There is an urgent need to foster the next generation of leaders who have the capacity and will to confront the greatest challenge of our time – climate change. For me, this $800,000 is not an expenditure, it is an investment. We’re investing in our young people, we’re investing in their public education, and we’re investing in their leadership and environmental stewardship, which is needed now more than ever.”

VIDEO of Rep. Torres’s remarks can be viewed here.

With the funding, partner schools will receive ongoing professional development training for science educators and weekly visits from a hydroponic specialist to guide teachers in hydroponic systems maintenance, provide planting, harvest, and produce distribution support. So far, 17 schools have received funding from Rep. Torres with three additional schools in progress.

“We are honored to celebrate this historic expansion to provide climate education to 20 more schools in the Bronx that will not only enrich the science curriculum in these schools but empower and inspire students to pursue careers in STEM,” said Manuela Zamora, NY Sun Works Executive Director. “Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy and this district is no stranger to the effects of climate change and environmental injustice. Congressman Ritchie Torres is aware of these challenges and this investment is indicative of his commitment to bringing climate solutions to the Bronx.  These labs bring hands-on urban farming education and climate and food justice to the forefront and gives students access to grow their own food from seed to harvest and share their crops with their families and communities.”

Through New York Sun Works’s hydroponic classrooms, students get hands-on learning experiences that foster scientific inquiry and environmental stewardship. The non-profit brings quality education to the communities where it’s most needed. Together with its more than 300 partner schools, New York Sun Works is shaping the next generation of environmental innovators empowered to create solutions to global climate challenges. Its first hydroponic classroom opened in 2010 and today it’s reaching more than 100,000 students annually across New York City and beyond.

In the final Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, Rep. Torres was able to successfully secure more than $16.2 million in funding for 15 community projects that will directly respond to the most pressing needs of the Bronx, including expanding opportunities for middle class families and small businesses, strengthening access to quality healthcare and education, and reversing decades of disinvestment.

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