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Team Up To Clean Up

The Team Up to Clean Up contest rewards schools that conceive, design, and implement effective cleanup, beautification, or reclamation projects, including school gardens.

Team Up to Clean Up provides students with hands-on experience in caring for their communities, and increases awareness of their direct impact on the environment.

Bette Midler ' s New York Restoration Project presents the NYRP Rose Award to one Golden Apple Award entry in any grade division that exhibits an outstanding vision for a beautification project that embodies the mission of NYRP. The winner receives a consultation and supplies to help the school realize its vision.


Consider cleanup, beautification, or reclamation projects that will lead to long-term improvement in your school or community.

Try some of these ideas for cleanup and gardening activities for students.

Review previous Team Up to Clean Up winning entries to see how other schools have engaged students in innovative cleanup or beautification projects, including school gardens.

How To Enter

Golden Apple Awards contests are open to NYC Department of Education K / 12 schools. Charter and Private schools may enter and win, but they cannot receive monetary compensation. The contest coordinator must be a teacher, administrator, or other employee at the contestant school.

Important note: Do not encourage students to undertake tasks that are normally the responsibility of paid custodial or maintenance staff.

Please follow all of these steps completely, or your entry might not be accepted.

STEP 1. Describe and document each cleanup, beautification, reclamation, or gardening project your school initiated. Answer the following questions:

Cleanup and Gardening Projects Implementation

  • Explain why you chose this project.
  • What did you do? Describe and include photos of the site before, during, and after your efforts. (Submit project plans if your project is not completed by the contest entry deadline.)
  • Project planning. What were your objectives, and the planning and organization that drove this project?
  • Student involvement. Describe student efforts to plan and implement the project. Include activities conducted by classrooms, cluster, grade, school-wide, team, club, or afterschool program.
  • Promotion. Describe your efforts to promote this project; include samples of relevant announcements, memos, flyers, posters, letters, web pages, skits, songs, assembly programs, media coverage, or other special events.
  • Collaboration. What other schools, professionals, businesses, or community organizations did you work with on this project? How did you solicit donations or help?
  • Educational components. Include learning standards met, lesson plans, and exemplary samples of student work.

Project Analysis

  • What worked? What were the most successful aspects of this project?
  • What didn't work? What were the least successful aspects of this project?
  • Applicability to other schools. What advice would you give to other schools with similar populations who want to replicate your project?
  • Measuring success. Describe how you measured the success of your project. Include charts or graphs, if possible. Explain any impact on the students or community.
  • Future plans. How would you use contest prize funds to further enhance your beautification projects?

STEP 2. Add supporting or explanatory documentation throughout, such as:

  • Photos, illustrations, graphics (reduce file size before inserting in your document)
  • Memos, letters, flyers, posters, charts, graphs, scripts, lyrics
  • Lesson plans, exemplary samples of student work

STEP 3. Prepare your contest entry for publication.

  • Create an attractive cover page for your contest entry; it will be the first thing the judges see. Include a photo, student artwork, or other graphic that is representative of your project entry. Be sure to include your school name on the cover and project title on the cover
  • Proofread and spellcheck your document.

STEP 4. Convert your completed document to a PDF (3 mb max; larger files can 't be accepted on the entry form).

If you need help compressing your images or your PDF, refer to Golden Apple Awards Entry Tips or email

Keep high-res versions of your materials. If you win, DSNY may request high-res images or documents.

STEP 5. Register and upload your contest entry by noon on Monday, May 2, 2016. Please answer all questions on the entry form.

Email if you have any questions or problems.

School Composting Programs

If your school is composting on-site outdoors, or indoors with worm bins, enter the Golden Shovel Awards competition for your borough ' s Master School Composter as part of your Golden Apple Awards entry. Winners are selected by the NYC Compost Project.

To enter, check the box " Our school composts " on the online submission form and answer these additional questions. At the end of your Team Up to Clean Up project entry document, describe your school ' s indoor or outdoor composting efforts:

  • Describe collaborations with outside organizations.
  • Document compost education efforts; show lesson plans, standards met, and students ' work.
  • Explain if and how these composting efforts will be maintained on an ongoing basis.
  • Could your school ' s composting efforts be replicated by other schools with similar populations? Please explain.

NOTE: If your school has Organics Collection, you should enter the Super Recyclers contest. Answer the contest entry questions describing recycling at your school for all designated materials, including food waste. Contestants are inspected by DSNY personnel to evaluate your school ' s recycling compliance.