2023 PREP Grant Projects

Total Funds Awarded: $349,312

In 2023, 10 grantees were provided funds to complete environmental projects. Read about each of the grantees and their projects below.

CEI LogoCommunity Ecology Institute

Project: Educating for Action: Connecting CEI’s programs to the County’s Climate Action Plan Goals for Land-Based Carbon Sequestration and Consumer Waste Reduction

The Community Ecology Institute (CEI) will offer experiential environmental education surrounding climate action through programing designed for community members across the lifespan, from the smallest learners (preschoolers with their caregivers in the Communities of Families in Nature program), to the teens and young adults that participate in the Green SEEDS Internship, to community members well into retirement who attend workshops and volunteer at Freetown Farm, and everyone in between.

The Communities of Families in Nature (CFIN) program will host three events per month, each incorporating climate education and trash removal. The PREP grant will support the development of field trips to Freetown Farm directed at 7th graders. For high school and college students, CEI’s Green SEEDS internship sessions will meet twice a week with a mix of prepared curriculum and independent study opportunities.

Focusing on land-based carbon sequestration, the PREP grant will support the installation and associated training surrounding at least eight Nourishing Gardens that transform lawns into ecologically beneficial gardens on a combination of public and private spaces. CEI will also review Marker Space workshops to further develop the framework for offerings related to climate action areas.

The PREP grant supports staffing and supplies for programming including Community of Families in Nature, Roots & Wings, Green SEEDS internships, Nourishing Gardens and Maker Space.

Howard Community College

Project: Composting at HCC 

Howard Community College (HCC) returns to the PREP program in the 2023 grant cycle to expand the college’s composting program.

The expanded program will have a goal of collecting an additional ton of compostable material every month during the grant period. Compostable serving utensils, dishes, plates and cups will be provided to all participating food preparation and serving areas.

Signage, training and educational programs will encourage all members of the college community to participate in composting as well as recycling. The program will follow all Howard County Green Bin policies and procedures so that county-wide participation in the program will be increased.

The PREP grant helps with compost collection service fees, compostable supplies and equipment for compost collection.


Howard County Chinese school

Project: Youth Plastic Reduction & Environmental Protection Program

Howard County Chinese School (HCCS) is building off its 2022 grant project and will organize a Seven Day Challenge through its Student Government Association during the school’s “Green Week” in spring 2024. Students and their adult mentors will create seven different environment-themed challenges and measure the results. The PREP 2023 grant also will support a series of environmental sustainability seminars, monthly cleanups at an “Adopt-a-Road” location, two stream cleanups and two field trips to potential locations such as the Alpha Ridge Landfill and a water treatment plant. HCCS will create an innovation competition surrounding reuse of plastic items and maintain two youth gardens as part of its “Grow Together Garden,” donating resulting organic vegetables to the Howard County Foodbank. The school plans to start a “no-sew” t-shirt bag making project to replace the use of single use plastic bags.  Video footage of all activities will be made public and the school will participate in the Howard County GreenFest to share the results of their efforts.

The PREP grant will assist with staff wages for program coordinators, communications and marketing costs, office supplies, gardening and project materials, travel and overhead. 


Howard County Conservancy LogoHoward County Conservancy

Project: Watershed Report Card (WRC) and Youth Climate Institute (YCI)

In its third year as a PREP grantee, Howard County Conservancy is continuing its Watershed Report Card and Youth Climate Institute programs.

The Watershed Report Card program will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2024 and is expected to involve 26 offsite stream surveys and 13 schoolyard assessments with Howard County Public School System students, with the publication of a Watershed Report Card utilizing the resulting data. In addition, the PREP grant supports two teacher trainings and two volunteer naturalist trainings. A student summit with local VIPs will provide the opportunity for student advocacy at the conclusion of the program.

During the 2023 grant term (2023-2024 school year), the Youth Climate Institute will be expanded to reach 210 Howard County students through seven chapters and will create a broader and stronger network of expert speakers, advisors and mentors. The program will offer an honors level certification with graduation cords/pins and a YCI “digital badge.” The grant supports the development of an online membership portal with resources for students, as well as an additional college scholarship program to encourage STEM careers and raise the visibility of YCI.

The PREP grant helps with wages, honorariums for speakers, project materials, incentives, and refreshments, marketing and outreach, travel, technology and scholarships. 

Howard Ecoworks LogoHoward Ecoworks

Project: EcoAmbassadors Year Three 

As a third-year recipient of PREP grant funding, Howard Ecoworks (HEW) will continue to develop, refine and implement year three of its EcoAmbassadors program for up to 20 students from Howard County public and private high schools. Each EcoAmbassador will receive a stipend, training and support from EcoWorks to conduct outreach, education and behavior change projects while being empowered as changemakers for their schools and communities. Year three of the EcoAmbassador program will move to a summer program format.

The PREP grant funds EcoAmbassador stipends, supplies and materials, staff wages, and administrative overhead. 

InTerfaith partners for the Chesapeake

Project: Engaging the Faith Community in Waste Reduction – Howard County

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake will engage its partner congregations in Howard County in waste reduction activities and develop a step-by-step action kit for the partners to use in carrying out their initiatives. Partners will be encouraged to promote the use of reusable grocery bags, participate in a waste reduction event featuring the showing of The Story of Plastic documentary, host a lunch & learn about recycling and waste reduction, participate in a stream cleanup and build and support congregational “green teams.”

The PREP grant supports staffing, licensing fees for “The Story of Plastic” and the costs of reusable bags and handouts.

Murray Hill Homeowners Association, Inc

Project: Community Cleanliness Project

As a third year returning grantee, Murray Hill Homeowners Association will continue to engage and educate community youth on anti-littering through weekly paid community clean-ups. One to two middle school-aged kids will pick up trash and change community trash bins. Murray Hill HOA will also monitor the use of 2022 grant-funded resident trash bins and host volunteer cleanup events once or twice a year and other more extensive community-based programs on trash education in Murray Hill.

The PREP grant helps with student wages for litter cleanups and trash collection, trashcans and supplies for weekly cleanups. 

Oakland Mills Interfaith  

Project: Greening of Oakland Mills Interfaith

In its second year of PREP grant funding, Oakland Mills Interfaith’s (OMII) will build on its environmental education, waste minimization and stormwater management programs. The five-congregation, interdenominational house of worship in Columbia hosts an ongoing monthly speaker series on environmental topics that featured author and University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy in December 2023, drawing an audience of more than 300 for a talk on environmental stewardship.

PREP funding also enabled OMII to purchase and distribute more than 3,000 reusable shopping bags through the Oakland Mills Interfaith Food Drive. The bags featured a bilingual insert from OMII explaining the environmental goal of the bags.

In addition to these efforts, OMII is utilizing funding to enhance composting activities, host an environmental fair on May 5, 2024, replace grass with native plants and maintain its stormwater management practices.

The PREP grant helps with composting supplies, signage, plants/trees, landscaping materials and tools, reusable bags, speaker fees and instructional materials.

Patapsco Heritage Greenway LogoPatapsco Heritage Greenway

Project: Water Quality Monitoring Programs

A PREP grant recipient since 2021, Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG) continues to monitor water quality twice monthly at 11 sites in the non-tidal Patapsco River watershed area from Woodbine to Elkridge.

In 2022, a biological component focused on the aquatic macroinvertebrate community was added to the chemical and physical data monitoring program and has been expanded each year, both in geographic scope as well as community participation. Biological monitoring is a desirable addition to the assessment toolbox because it can reveal information about the long-term health of the waterway.

A report card of the first years’ findings, the Non-Tidal Patapsco River Report Card was published in June 2023 and has been distributed to a wide audience. A scientific poster was created from the report card findings and has been employed in Poster Sessions at multiple regional professional conferences.

Data is entered into a comprehensive online database and publicly available. Because data adhere to the strict quality control standards of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Department of the Environment uses PHG data for biannual reporting to the federal government on the status of local waterways as per the Clean Water Act. Discussion of trends and observations is worked into formal and informal public water quality presentations given by PHG staff all over the region.

The PREP grant helps with water quality monitoring supplies and wages for a program coordinator and program assistant.

Upcycled LogoUpcycled

Project: Waste to Wonder

A PREP grant recipient since 2021, Upcycled is building off previous work to “upcycle” higher number plastics PP (#5) and HDPE (#2) into lumber and – new this year – interlocking brick to make a variety of structures including benches, tables, sheds and flower beds.  Upcycle offers community collection sites for these plastics at Freetown Farm and Savage Mill. Their goal is to collect at least 4,000 pounds of plastic from Howard County residents and donate at least 2,000 pounds of upcycled lumber products to Howard County schools and community spaces.

Upcycled cleans, sorts and shreds plastic into flakes, then heats and pressurizes into a lumber or brick mold. In the summer of 2023, Upcycled hosted nine interns to learn about manufacturing processes. Starting in fall 2023, Upcycled began after school educational programs that are planned to continue in spring 2024 at Howard County schools and the Youth Climate Institute.

The PREP grant helps cover operational costs such as wages (for directors and high school employees through the Waste Warrior program), overhead costs (such as rent), and materials for project installations.