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U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

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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 school sustainability practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:

  1. reduce environmental impact and costs;
  2. improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  3. provide effective environmental and sustainability education

Combined progress in ALL three of these areas, known as Pillars, serves as the basis for recognition. ED-GRS aligns with the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s or ED’s) cross-cutting goals for education, including improving student, staff, and facility performance and increasing efficiency at federal, state, and local levels.

Another key function of the award is helping to facilitate state and local collaboration around school facilities, health, and environmental education.

Honored schools, school districts, and IHEs are announced each spring. The selectees are invited to a summer ceremony in Washington, D.C. where they receive a sustainable plaque; are the subject of media attention; and feel their efforts celebrated. Other schools, in turn, learn about and adopt their practices. States are encouraged to offer additional state recognition titles and events, and to partner with private sector to offer cash prizes, amplifying the impact of their award implementation. The federal recognition award conveys no ED funding to states, districts, schools, or IHEs.

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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.

Last Modified: 07/21/2020