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Here’s to Educational Alchemy: Colegio Roosevelt receives US$50,000 grant for environmental leadership

By Allana Rumble
Here’s to Educational Alchemy: Colegio Roosevelt receives US$50,000 grant for environmental leadership

Above: FDR students Valeria Wu and Raquel Herrera, receiving a certificate from jury chairman Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber (photo: FDR).
Alchemy: a “seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination” (Oxford Dictionary)
Educators are alchemists. Educators create, and transform, through combination and collaboration, and there are golden opportunities for our students and our collective future if we can get the science right.
The alchemy for us began when Colegio Roosevelt first learned of the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) from one of our current parents and members of our Green Team, Yocamille Arditi-Rocha.
The prize is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In 1995, The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) presented its highest conservation award, the Golden Panda, to Sheikh Zayed, marking the first time in the awards history that it had been bestowed on a head of state.
Conservation of the natural environment was key to Sheikh Zayed, and water access is also a shared concern between both the UAE and our home city of Lima, Peru, which is the second largest desert city in the world.
Our participation in this prize has allowed us to focus further on these areas of fusion. We have a need to reduce our focus on borders and boundaries, on pre-conceived ideas, and to open our hearts and minds to forward progress in the development not only of alternative energy but alternative futures.
The Global High Schools category of the prize started two years ago and sees up to US$100,000 awarded annually to one school in each of five global regions. A prize of this size has exceptional, transformative powers for schools. The prize also has categories for NGOs, small business, large business and Lifetime Achievement.
While it initially seemed a lofty goal, submitting a ZFEP proposal fit well with our school’s desire to emerge as a leader in environmentally sustainable innovation. As sustainability gains momentum in Peru, we seek to be ambassadors of change.
Our proposal for the prize involved investing the grant in a diversified set of initiatives that would consider both economic and environmental responsibility. Our first initiative involved the expansion of a project implemented in October 2013, which utilizes solar thermal energy instead of natural gas to heat the school pool.
This project is an exemplar of the school’s goals with a return on investment of six to eight months and anticipated savings of US$20,000 per year, in addition to a reduction of 75 tons of CO2 annually.
Additionally, a portion of the prize grant would be used to install an experimental set of solar photovoltaic panels to power a block of classrooms, and allow for data collection to determine the scalability of the project based on economic and environmental savings. Finally, we proposed that we would convert a portion of our school bus transport system into a more efficient, less-polluting fleet, by switching from diesel to NGV.
Collectively these initiatives would allow the school to embark upon the establishment of a Green Revolving Fund. A portion of the funds saved from these initiatives will be placed back into the fund, thus making it “revolving”. The transformative idea being, sustainable funding for sustainability initiatives! Each of these initiatives provides an opportunity for experimentation, data collection and learning, further transforming our golden opportunity into educational alchemy.
With a seemingly magical process of collaborative creative input, we completed our application for the August deadline, crossed our fingers, and hoped that our ingredients for success were present in perfect ratio.
In addition to the strict criteria involved for submissions, there is a four-tiered process of selection and elimination involving a review committee, selection committee, and jury deciding the final winners.
Imagine our delight and excitement when we learned we had been selected as finalists in the Americas region. Anxiety transformed into joy. Possibility transformed into reality. Our finalist status also meant that the ZFEP would invite three representatives from Colegio Roosevelt to Abu Dhabi for the January 2014 Grand Award Ceremony, where the winners of each category would be announced. This trip was a transformative experience.
Our participation in the prize as finalists allowed us to meet our fellow alchemists from around the world, fellow students and educators who believe that our future begins now. In hindsight, has been one of the most worthwhile expenditures of effort the Roosevelt community has ever made.
This alchemy did not happen overnight. The transformative process has been, and will continue to be, a long one. A detailed list of some of our collective sustainability actions may be found on our Green Schools Alliance Featured Schools page (below).
The deadline for submissions for the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize is 14 July 2014. We plan to apply. I strongly encourage your school to consider creating a proposal as well. Alchemy is addictive. Change is irresistible. Our quest for transformation continues and there is much work to be done.
Incidentally, the UN Climate talks for 2014 will be hosted in Lima, Peru in December 2014. There is a significant opportunity to transform an event known for inaction into one of resolution. Send your ideas to [email protected], and watch this space for news of a student parallel conference.
For information on the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize, visit

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