U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
The aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to strive for 21st century excellence, by highlighting promising practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:
- Reduce environmental impact and costs;
- Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
- Provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways.
Combined progress in ALL three of these areas, collectively known as Pillars, serves as the basis for recognition. Each Pillar is divided into Elements, which provide further guidance on each of the three main areas. ED-GRS aligns with the Department’s cross-cutting goals for education, including improving student, staff, and facility performance and increasing efficiency at the federal, state, and local levels. At the postsecondary level, these Pillars help to support the goals of reduced college costs, increased completion rates, higher rates of employment, and robust civic skills among graduates. The recognition award is part of a U.S. Department of Education (ED) effort to identify and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness; and reinforces federal efforts to increase energy independence and economic security.
Encouraging resource efficient schools, districts, and IHEs allows administrators to dedicate more resources to instruction rather than operational costs. Healthy schools and wellness practices ensure that all students learn in an environment conducive to achieving their full potential, free of the health disparities that can aggravate achievement gaps. Sustainability education helps all students engage in hands-on learning, hone critical thinking and collaboration skills, learn many disciplines, and develop a solid foundation in STEM subjects. It motivates postsecondary students in many disciplines, and especially those underserved in STEM subjects, to persist and graduate with sought after degrees and robust civic skills.
Note: Schools, districts, colleges and universities do not apply for the award to ED, but to their state education authorities.
ED's award is called "U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools" and has "District Sustainability Award" and "Postsecondary Sustainability Award" categories. "Green Ribbon Schools" without the "U.S. Department of Education" is not ED's award, but instead is a separate program overseen by another organization.