Earth Force Launches Staples Urban Environment Challenge with $175,000 Grant from Staples Foundation for Learning

Competition Designed to Inspire Students to Address Urban Climate Change –

Educators Invited to Register by Jan. 31, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011 8:00 am EST

Dateline:

DENVER

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NASDAQ:
SPLS
"Together, Earth Force and Staples are developing the next generation of environmentally responsible citizens."

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Earth Force, Inc., a nationally recognized leader in environmental education, today announced the first Staples Urban Environment Challenge, a new competition that encourages youth to address environmental issues related to climate change in urban communities. The program is funded by a $175,000 grant from Staples Foundation for Learning, a private foundation created by Staples, Inc.

The competition asks students to identify climate change-related concerns in their communities and develop an action plan to help address them. The challenge is open to eligible fifth-ninth-grade students in 10 cities -- Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, New York City, San Diego and Seattle. Educators are invited to register teams before Jan. 31, 2011 and complete their work by Earth Day, April 22, 2011.

The Staples Urban Environment Challenge is the first-of-its-kind program that truly provides youth with an opportunity to build a greater understanding of climate change issues. With our continued partnership with Staples Foundation for Learning, we will help even more youth realize they can create positive change in their local environments through their own actions,” said Lisa Bardwell, president and chief executive officer of Earth Force. “Together, Earth Force and Staples are developing the next generation of environmentally responsible citizens.”

Environmental education programs have been shown to improve academic achievement by helping students enhance critical thinking and basic life skills. Research1 suggests the most successful environmental education programs involve learning outside the classroom, in nature or community settings.

Since 2003, SFFL has awarded nearly $1 million to Earth Force in support of its efforts to help youth become active, environmental citizens. The new $175,000 grant will be used to underwrite the Urban Environment Challenge staff time, materials and student prizes. Earth Force provides professional development, lesson planning and networking opportunities to inspire educators. Past student action projects have ranged from school energy audits to improved curb-side recycling to pollution reduction and community education.

The Urban Environment Challenge program entries will be judged on innovation, climate change impact, and sustainability of the solution, among other criteria. On May 20, Earth Force will announce five regional winners who will receive a customized $1,000 “classroom of the future” kit such as video cameras, LCD projectors, or computer software. Two $500 packages will be awarded for runners up in each region as well.

“Earth Force and Staples Foundation for Learning share a mutual commitment to inspire youth to think creatively and strategically about their impact on the environment,” said Amy Shanler, director of community relations for Staples, Inc. “Starting off the year with the Staples Urban Environment Challenge is an ideal way to teach and inspire young people about the importance of environmental education and civic involvement and help build stronger, more sustainable communities.”

Participants interested in joining the Staples Urban Environment Challenge must register by Jan. 31, 2011 or contact: StaplesUEC@earthforce.org. Projects will be accepted through Earth Day, April 22, 2011 and winners announced on May 20, 2011.

About Earth Force

Through Earth Force, youth discover and implement lasting solutions to environmental issues in their community. The creation of Earth Force in 1994 recognized young people's overwhelming desire to act on behalf of the environment and to help their communities through voluntary service. Annually, Earth Force provides 20,000 youth with the skills and knowledge to create lasting change in their communities while developing lifelong habits of active citizenship and social responsibility. You can learn more about Earth Force at www.earthforce.org.

About Staples Foundation for Learning

Founded in 2002, Staples Foundation for Learning has contributed to nearly 1,000 global, national and local charities that provide educational opportunities and job skills for all people, with a special emphasis on disadvantaged youth. Staples Foundation for Learning builds lasting relationships with world-class organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Ashoka, Earth Force, TakingITGlobal, and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. The foundation is the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc. and is an integral component of Staples Soul, which recognizes the connection between long-term business success and the impact Staples has on associates, communities and the planet. For more information about the foundation and Staples Soul, please visit www.staplesfoundation.org and www.staples.com/soul.

1 The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation (2005). Understanding Environmental Literacy in America and Making it a Reality. Washington, D.C.

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Contact:

Earth Force, Inc.
Alyssa Hawkins, 612-823-0396
ahawkins@earthforce.org
or
Staples Foundation for Learning
Amy Shanler, 508-253-6709
amy.shanler@staples.com
or
for Staples Foundation for Learning
Lynda Curtis, 781-559-0423
Lynda.Curtis@rfbinder.com


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