Green America, a national nonprofit green-economy organization announced the winners of its first-ever 'green grants' contest: Build It Up, West Virginia Summer Program received the top prize of $2,500, while three other green projects (Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning County, the New Orleans Society for Conservation Biology, and Vertical Harvest of Jackson Hole), each received a runner-up prize of $1,000 apiece. Winners for the contest were chosen by thousands of voters across the United States, choosing their favorite green project from among ten finalists chosen by Green America staff. The ten finalists were chosen from an initial pool of 275 green projects, nominated from across the country. To qualify as a green project, and be a finalist, each nominee's work was required to join social justice concerns with environmental responsibility – Green America's definition of 'green.' 'All of the Green Grant winners represent the best work going on across the United States to make communities greener and stronger,' says Todd Larsen, Green America’s Corporate Responsibility Director. 'We're excited to follow what each of the winners will do with their prize money to help their local community go green.' 'The Green Grant helps us pay for the housing for the Summer Program Participants as well as buying needed tools for the Pedalers' Paradise Community Bike Shop, helping volunteers get work done and earn bikes,' says Eduardo Canelon a Site Coordinator for the Build It Up, WV Program. The Summer Program offers employment and enrichment opportunities for Appalachian youth, providing inspiration for new ways to power the Appalachian economy that aren't dependent on coal mining. 'Our strong showing in this nationwide contest gives us some 'bragging rights' and will help promote our specific project to a wider audience,' says Steve Hanzely, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer in Mahoning County, Ohio. The Habitat project nominated for this prize involves interfaith groups in Mahoning County – Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others – coming together to build an energy-efficient house for a local family in need. 'The $1,000 grant prize will be placed in a special account and will be used toward the estimated $85,000 construction cost of The House of Abraham.' 'This grant comes at the best time for us - our school is really suffering from budget cuts and has been slow to release the money allocated to our organization by the student government,' says Jessa Madosky, leader of the New Orleans Society for Conservation Biology, a student-run initiative at the University of New Orleans that is bringing a recycling program back to campus for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. 'This grant, and the publicity we generated from the vote drive on campus, should really help the school see that this is an important initiative.' 'We are thrilled to be able to receive this grant from Green America because it highlights the goals of our greenhouse project -- supporting social justice and environmental responsibility as the greenhouse will focus on prioritizing the employment of our citizens with disabilities while designing a greenhouse that is environmentally responsible and innovative,' says Penny McBride, project administrator for Vertical Harvest of Jackson Hole. 'The greenhouse will strive to use alternative energy sources, be a model of how other communities can grow their own produce on a small footprint of land while reinvigorating an underutilized parcel of land in the heart of town.' About Green America Green America (formerly Co-op America) is the nation's leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today's social and environmental problems. Green America's green economy programs encourage corporate responsibility, tackle climate change, build fair trading systems, advance healthy, local communities, and provide green purchasing and investing information for families and businesses. 2010 is the first year that Green America has presented Green Grant Awards, which were made possible through the support of a generous donor. To receive Green America's popular publications, including the Green American and the National Green Pages, participate in Green America's Green Business Conferences or Green Festivals, or to get its free e-newsletter, providing the latest green news, green discounts, and opportunities to take action for a green economy, visit www.GreenAmericaToday.org, email info@GreenAmericaToday.org, or call at 800-58-GREEN.