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U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

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Overview and Aims

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a public engagement initiative for school sustainability that is structured as a federal recognition award. By highlighting schools, districts, postsecondary institutions, and early learning centers’ cost-saving, health promoting, and performance-enhancing sustainability practices, ED-GRS celebrates these institutions and brings more attention to their work.

Recipients of the award are invited to a ceremony in Washington, D.C. where they receive a plaque; are the subject of media attention; and have their efforts celebrated. Other schools, in turn, learn from their practices. In addition to communicating school sustainability practices, the award uses a small number of honorees each year to share resources that all schools can employ through its Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub.

The ED-GRS recognition award is not a certification or benchmarking program, although nominees may use an array of other programs to demonstrate their progress toward the award’s three Pillars. Instead, it is a one-time recognition of an institution’s progress in the award’s three sustainability focused pillars. For this reason, each early learning center, school, district, or postsecondary institution is only eligible to receive the award once and the award is accorded in one year only. The ED-GRS award does not convey federal funding to states, districts, schools, or IHEs.

What's New

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: 01/22/2024