Created in 2011, the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions that are demonstrating a commitment to three Pillars: 1) reducing environmental impact and costs, including waste, water, energy use, and alternative transportation; 2) improving the health and wellness of students and staff, including environmental health, nutrition, and fitness; and 3) providing effective sustainability education, including robust environmental education that engages STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways.
The award is a communications and outreach tool to encourage state education, health, and environment authorities, stakeholders, and school communities to consider matters of facilities, health, and environment comprehensively, strengthening the critical collaborations that ensure all of our nation's schools are healthier, safer, and more sustainable. In order to be selected for federal recognition, schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions must be demonstrating progress in all three Pillars. More information on the recognition award can be found here.
In early 2013, ED added Green Strides to connect all school communities with the free, publically-available resources from a variety of sources that these recognition award honorees effectively use. The Green Strides portal is intended as a one-stop shop for resources, webinars, case studies, promising practices, and collaboration so that all schools can make progress across every Pillar of the award. In 2015, to offer a more dynamic and user-friendly web portal, Green Strides was moved off of ed.gov through the generous assistance of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council.
Sign up for the Green Strides Newsletter to receive information on resources, opportunities, webinars, and our honorees’ innovative, replicable practices.
While ED has not been authorized by Congress to administer grant programs that are exclusively focused on school sustainability, there are a few ED grant programs that may be used to help support schools' work to reduce environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and provide effective environmental education. These include:
ED Health Related Grant Programs
- Early Learning Initiative
- Elementary and Secondary School Counseling
- Office of Safe and Healthy Students Programs
- Carol M. White Physical Education Program
- Promise Neighborhoods
ED Facilities Related Grant Programs
- Educational Facilities Clearinghouse
- Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program
- Impact Aid Discretionary Facilities Construction Grant Program
- Impact Aid Facilities Maintenance Grant Program
Sustainability Related Commitments and Strategy
- Sustainability and Environmental Justice Reports
- National Strategy to Help Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators
- Inter-Agency Task Force on Environmental Education
- Urban Waters Federal Partnership
- Inter-Agency Working Group on Environmental Justice
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of the Interior and Education to Use Public Lands in Enhancing Educational Opportunities