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District’s 2014 sustainability-grant-competition winners announced

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Yesterday, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced that the city will award $2.35 million in grants to four city agencies for local sustainability projects.

The agencies will receive the money under a grant competition called Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge.

Now, in its second year, the competition encourages D.C. agencies to create innovative sustainability initiatives.

In yesterday’s press release, Mayor Gray said the 2014 winning sustainability ideas, “can help educate the next generation, increase access to healthy foods, expand job training and business opportunities, and ensure protection of our natural resources.”

A number of this year’s initiatives will promote both sustainability and job training.

For example, the city awarded the University of the District of Columbia money to establish and operate fish-breeding demonstration projects in Wards 3, 5, and 7. These demonstration projects will use aquaponic, which combine fish and plant production, systems. The school hopes the projects will serve as a base for job-skills and entrepreneurship training for low-skilled people.

University of the District of Columbia also received grant money to establish a business-incubator kitchen in Ward 8 for food and nutrition education, and job-skills and entrepreneurship training.

In 2013, the city awarded $4.5 million to eight city agencies for 12 sustainability projects in the first year of the grant competition.

The challenge-grant program seeks to stimulate innovative ideas that can be repeated in future years, Dan Guilbeault, a policy analyst with the D.C. Department of the Environment, reportedly said in a November 21, 2013 article.

The grant competition is part of the city’s Sustainable DC initiative, launched in July 2011. The city's sustainability initiative includes an April 2012 vision statement and a February 2013 sustainability plan, as well as legislation enacted by the city in 2013 and additional legislation pending before the city council.

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