MAHWAH, N.J. – Ramapo College of New Jersey will receive $455,000 in funding to support a special environmental sustainability program that will create a vertical hydroponic farm and allow for the creation of jobs for young adults with autism as well as a valuable learning experience for Ramapo College students. The grant, included in the $1.5 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 government funding bill recently passed in the Senate, was announced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) who worked to secure federal funding for critical New Jersey programs, projects, and priorities.

“We are so grateful for this funding which will provide valuable work experience for young people with autism as well as Ramapo students,” said Dr. Angela Cristini, Professor of Biology. “The vertical farm will help prepare the workforce for this growing industry in New Jersey.”

Ramapo College and the REED Foundation for Autism entered into a partnership that provides job training, volunteer opportunities, and paid employment for adults with autism so that they can live a more independent, fulfilling life. The College will work with REED to incorporate existing courses for the certificate program, which will be open to both higher-functioning young adults with autism and currently enrolled Ramapo College students. Funding will also be used pay up to 10 adults with autism to participate in paid job training in the farm.

Details for the funding include:

*Purchase and installation of repurposed shipping containers that have been converted into pods for vertical farming;

*First year’s operating costs (seed, growing medium, fertilizer, utilities, and salary and fringe benefits for the farm manager);

*Incorporate existing Ramapo College courses to create a certificate in environmental sustainability, and to pay up to 10 participants with autism who will work in the farm.

“The projects funded in the government spending bill will provide major benefits to communities across our state,” said Sen. Booker in a release. “I fought to ensure this funding was included and am grateful for the organizations, community leaders, and elected officials who joined together to advance these vital initiatives. As these projects all across New Jersey move toward becoming a reality, I look forward to seeing the positive impact they will have on local and regional economies and the improvements they will bring to the quality of life for New Jersey residents.”

In total, Booker secured more than $72 million in funding for New Jersey projects detailed HERE.

Source: Ramapo College