U.Va. Named Virginia's Recycling 'Gorilla' in Annual Competition

May 2, 2012 — The University of Virginia placed first in the state for overall recycling in this year's RecycleMania competition.

U.Va. received the "Gorilla Prize" for the commonwealth, with 706,832 pounds of total recycling collected during an eight-week period ending April 6. The school placed fourth among the 12 competing schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference and 14th among the 605 schools competing nationwide.

The RecycleMania competition, a project of the College and University Recycling Council, started in 2001 as a head-to-head contest between Ohio University and Miami University to encourage recycling on campus. Since then the 10-week competition has grown to include more than 600 colleges and universities vying for prizes to reduce their environmental impact. U.Va. has been competing in RecycleMania since 2008.

The schools battle in major categories including total amount recycled, as well as specific categories, such as paper and glass recycling, and the amount of recycling per person.

"We did extremely well this year," said Nina Morris, sustainability outreach coordinator for Facilities Management. "All the schools are getting more competitive. Everyone is stepping up their game."

Morris promoted the contest heavily this year, posting the weekly tallies on various social media, as well as offering promotional food coupons and free coffee with reusable mugs.

"We worked closely with U.Va. Dining and Student Council," Morris said. "We were encouraging students to minimize their waste, such as switching to reusable coffee cups, but that is a long-term behavior."

In the Grand Champion category, which combines trash and core recyclables to determine a recycling rate as a percentage of overall waste generation, U.Va. placed second among the ACC schools, behind Boston College, and second in Virginia, behind the College of William & Mary, with 42.26 percent. In the per capita recycling competition, U.Va. came in second in Virginia, behind the University of Mary Washington, third in the ACC and 60th in the nation, recycling 21.62 pounds per person, which includes students, faculty and staff.

In the waste minimization category, where schools compete to produce the least amount of both recyclables and trash per person, U.Va. finished fourth in the ACC and fifth in the state, with 51.15 pounds per person.

Bruce "Sonny" Beale, director of the University's recycling program, said the University is aggressive with its recycling.

"Striving to be the rock in the pond that creates the ripples, U.Va. works hard at evolving our recycling and waste-diversion programs into better sustainable operations continuously," Beale said. "We seek new ways to prevent regular waste from finding a retirement home at a landfill. These include items like batteries, CD, DVD, jewel cases, ink and toner cartridges, sent to be recycled rather than discarded as trash. Our electronics recycling effort has diverted more than about 4,000 pounds in the first three months of this year."

Morris added, "Our results demonstrate the level of commitment U.Va. has to recycling and the pride we take in making U.Va. a greener, healthier community."

The University incorporates sustainability into its way of doing business.

"We approach education and opportunities with open arms and open minds, hoping we'll gain a different perspective on sustainability efforts around Grounds and around the country," Beale said. "We have experienced as much as 50-plus-percent recycling rates and as much as 75 percent diversion rates over the years, some due to construction and demolition reclamation. But the hard fact is that we have maintained about a 43 percent recycling rate for the past five years. We can increase this, with more individual participation in the programs we currently have, and we can continue to find other resources to collect and divert."

– by Matt Kelly

May 3, 2012 — Students in a new philanthropy course in the University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy [link: http://batten.virginia.edu/] awarded $100,000 in grants to seven Charlottesville-area nonprofits Tuesday at a luncheon in the Great Hall of Garrett Hall.

The grant funding was provided by the Once Upon A Time Foundation to encourage students to think about philanthropy, said the course instructor, Paul Martin, Batten's director of professional development and a former chair of the City of Charlottesville's Community Development Block Grant Task Force.

The 28 students, representing 17 majors from across the University, spent the semester deciding how to award this $100,000 – acting, in effect, like a miniature private philanthropic foundation, Martin said. Starting on the first day of class with 46 letters of inquiry from local charities, the students did research, site visits, interviews and other due diligence to whittle the field to seven organizations that work on poverty alleviation and youth development.

"We quickly all learned that giving away money is difficult," said Mary Kate Steinbeck, a fourth-year sociology [link: http://www.virginia.edu/sociology/] major in in the College of Arts & Sciences. [link: http://artsandsciences.virginia.edu/home/index.html] "Especially when you have 30 different voices of passion coming into the class with different ideas of how best to spend it."

Debating along the way "forced students to think critically about how to handle issues of poverty," Martin said. For instance, "is it more important to provide for after-school programs for students, or jobs programs for their parents, or to provide housing or financial services?" Such considerations pushed the students, Martin said, "to struggle through the moral and ethical dilemmas of how to do this wisely."

Ultimately, the students focused on assessing the proposals for their sustainability, long-term impact and whether they addressed the root causes of poverty or youth development, said Amara Warren, a third-year student majoring in political and social thought [link: http://www.virginia.edu/pst/] in the College.

At Tuesday's luncheon, giant checks were presented to the seven awardees:

• $20,000 to the African-American Teaching Fellows [link: http://aateachingfellows.org/] program, enabling them to hire additional fellows to teach in Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools.

• $10,000 to help Bank On [link: http://joinbankon.org/] launch in Charlottesville this fall. Bank On is a partnership with several local banks to provide mainstream banking services to those who currently rely on "fringe" banking and lending services like payday loans, which charge very high interest rates.

• $5,000 to the Community Investment Collaborative, [link: http://www.c-ville.com/Article/News_Extra/Microfinance_group_Community_I... which offers local small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs incremental loans tied to business training and mentoring.

• $15,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville [link: http://cvillehabitat.org/] to support their redevelopment of the 100-acre Southwood Mobile Home Park.

• $20,000 to Helping Young People Evolve, known as HYPE, [link: http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2012/jan/13/boxing-program-helps-risk... a free after-school program for local at-risk youth that combines homework tutoring, mentorship and boxing lessons.

• $15,000 to the Monticello Area Community Action Agency, known as MACAA, [link: http://www.macaa.org/] to expand their Back To Work job training program.

• $15,000 to the On Our Own [link: http://www.onourowncville.org/] recovery center and peer support program for those with mental health challenges.

The grant recipients expressed great appreciation for the funds. "This gift will have a profound impact on our organization," said Scott Guggenheimer, executive director of the African-American Teaching Fellows.

Receiving Habitat for Humanity's check, Katie Kellett, the local chapter's director of development, noted the shared dedication of all the nonprofits and how their work is "all of a piece. We're working together to make this a fair and just community."

"Looking around, so many of you have helped us get off the ground," said
Wes Bellamy, an Albemarle High School teacher who created the HYPE program last year, whose own career shift into teaching was fostered by the African-American Teaching Fellows program.

"I'm amazed at the philanthropy and these students' desire to help those most in need in our community," said Karen Shepard, executive director of MACAA. "There is an underclass here in Charlottesville, and a lot of people aren't aware of how many people are living with dire needs that aren't being met."

– by Brevy Cannon