NBCA is a Michigan Green School

New Branches Charter Academy

Achieved Green Schools' Emerald Status!

New Branches Charter Academy has participated in the Michigan Green Schools initiative since the 2016-17 school year. As an environmental school, we've dedicated our efforts towards ensuring our students are doing their part for the planet. In order to become a green school in this program, we as a school must perform a number of activities within four categories that prove our efforts. Those categories are: Recycling, Energy, Environmental Protection and Miscellaneous.


We are proud to announce that we've reached Emerald status in the 2020-2021 school year!

  1. Green School - 10 total activities with at least two from each of the four categories
  2. Emerald School - 15 total activities with at least two from each of the four categories
  3. Evergreen School - 20 total activities with at least two activities from each of the four categories


Picture of NBCA's certificate of achievement from the Michigan Green Schools Initiative.

Michigan Green Schools is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency dedicated to assisting all Michigan schools - public and private - achieve environmental goals which include protecting the air, land, water and animals of our state along with world outreach through good ecological practices and the teaching of educational stewardship of student pre-kindergarten through senior high school.

Previous Years:

  • 2020-21 Emerald Award (COVID restrictions brought us down to Emerald
  • 2019-20 Evergreen Award (highest destination)
  • 2018-19 Evergreen Award
  • 2017-18 Evergreen Award
  • 2016-17 Emerald Award (1st Year NBCA applied for designation)

New Branches Charter Academy (NBCA) received points for 15 environmentally focused activities our of a maximum 20 activities possible. Check out some of our environmental efforts for the 2020-2021 school year!

2020-2021 Michigan Green Schools Application

Environmental Efforts Breakdown:

NBCA students recycling at our school together.
NBCA students taking a group picture as they recycle plastic, paper, and more at our school


Recycling Program: NBCA has been recycling paper and paperboard materials through the PaperGator program for over 7 years. NBCA recycles cardboard, plastics, glass and metal cans via the City of Grand Rapids recycling bin. Soda bottles and aluminum can deposits are collected and returned to Meijer; money received is applied to the Green Team fund. We also recycle old/dry markers via Crayola, and the office manager collects printer cartridges for recycling as well.


Specialized energy-efficient technology in school operations: Several years ago, NBCA had energy-efficient LED lights installed in the gym and teacher's lounge. We were able to extend our energy-efficient lighting plan to include all of the K-8 classrooms two years ago. Fluorescent bulbs in each classroom were replaced with energy-efficient LED bulbs.


Specialized energy-efficient technology in school operations: We have built two blender bikes that we showcase during our annual Earth Day Family Night event; they were built and first showcased in 2020. Students are able to demonstrate human-powered renewable energy as they provide the manual power to make their own fresh fruit smoothies!

NBCA's blender bikes debuted at our annual Earth Day Family Night Event, with a student on it.
NBCA's blender bikes debuted at our annual Earth Day Family Night event, with a student on it.
NBCA student taking a picture next to our sign describing our pollinator habitat
Michigan native plants that are right beside the building at New Branches Charter Academy's campus

Environmental Protection

Offering a teaching unit on environmental issues facing the state: NBCA's middle school science teacher teaches lessons on MI invasive species as part of the life science units from FOSS curriculum for 7th grade every spring. Our Eco-Art teacher taught a unit on MI invasive species, specifically sea lamprey, and virtually hosted DNR educator Alan Wernette in October to discuss the environmental issues lamprey are causing in Michigan.

Furthermore, every October, students participate in bat week as part of the Environmental Science curriculum. Students learn about Michigan native bat species, the benefits of having bats in our environment, and the detriment of the white nose syndrome affecting bat populations. Younger student paint bats from egg cartons, 2nd graders complete a bat writing unit, and older students build mock bat houses from cardboard.


Establishing a natural Michigan garden project with native plants: We will be continuing to develop our front landscape with additional native plants. Since 2019, over 300 native plants have been planted to develop the landscape and establish a pollinator habitat. This spring and summer, we are extending the habitat and will spread native short-grass meadow seeds on top of our snow. Two conservationists in the Grand Rapids community provided seeds that they harvested themselves, and are continuing to help us plan and maintain the meadow as a long-term project.