About The Cooler Communities Program

The Cooler Communities Program is based on a successful pilot project from Concord, MA, called Cooler Concord. It leverages classroom education to empower students and support a whole community on the path to smarter energy choices and climate friendly action.

Since 2019, Cooler Communities has worked with dozens of committed educators and thousands of students across Massachusetts. 

Our application for participation in the 24/25 school year will go online in September 2024.

Thanks to support by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, our principal funder, as well as the Feigenbaum, Dorr, and Beveridge Foundations, schools receive grants between $3000 and $8000 for participating in the program. Students of all ages are invited to research and create exhibits and materials on climate change, energy efficiency and related subjects within their curriculum requirements to be displayed at a district-wide event. There, vetted vendors, community members, and service providers offer advice and show ways in which visitors can take energy- and climate–smart actions that work best for them.

Everyone is encouraged to pledge changes – large or small. These pledges are tracked and followed up on as much as possible.

As well as science and engineering, civics, statistics, English, art and history classes have also contributed to events to date: with letters to the editor, poetry, surveys, research projects, or flyers and murals to enrich and publicize the event. 

Two teachers from Framingham speak to their experience of their first Cooler Communities event.

Cooler Communities encourages collaboration between municipal entities like energy commissions, grassroots volunteers and the schools. It aims to break down silos in the ways we address climate change and pollution.

The Cooler Communities team assists schools and towns in a multitude of ways to achieve their climate related goals. Aside from creating measurable change for the participating town and its residents the purpose of this program is to empower young people to recognize the relevance of their learning and to give them a taste of the impact they can have in their communities.


Staff and Advisors – Cooler Communities Playbook


    • Gilda Gussin, M.Ed. Project Director and primary author of the Playbook
    • Jill Appel, CPA, MPH content advisor
    • Aimee Powelka, energy professional and climate activist from Framingham, Massachusetts – Playbook Advisory Committee
    • Uli Nagel, director of the Cooler Communities program at the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation

Gilda Gussin and Jill Appel were part of the three-person leadership team that developed and implemented the original Cooler Concord Fair, along with Brad Hubbard Nelson, PhD. All three have extensive experience in reducing CO2 emissions in communities and have led community-based Solar, Heat Pump and Weatherization campaigns, both professionally and as volunteer members of the Concord Sustainable Energy Committee.


Want Some Help?

If you would like some help getting started or have questions, send an email to the team that has created this Playbook. We are happy to talk with you about your project and we offer consulting services to help you make best use of the Playbook.

Share Your Ideas

Our plan is to update this site periodically with best practices and advice from communities who use this Playbook to host fairs. Please share your thoughts with us – what works well and doesn’t, what is especially helpful, what is missing and what new ideas you have! Our planet needs us to share our ideas!