The U.S. Dept. of Education has come up with this program to encourage and honor environmental education. It’s hard to imagine a winner that doesn’t have a strong schoolyard component…Good Luck.
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Fact Sheet
What’s New with Green Schools at the U.S. Department of Education?
As you may have heard, it’s been an exciting summer at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). ED, with the assistance of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), has been hard at work developing criteria and award infrastructure for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), the first comprehensive and coordinated federal policy in the three institutional roles of schools related to environment, health and education.
The award acknowledges the work of schools in reaching high levels of achievement under three areas: 1) Environmental impact and energy efficiency; 2) Healthy environment; and 3) Environmental literacy. Put another way, ED-GRS considers: 1) Schools’ and their occupants’ impact on the environment; 2) Schools’ environmental and behavioral impact on occupants; and 3) How schools teach students about the environment and sustainability to prepare them for citizenship and employment in the 21st century.
How ED-GRS Came About
The initiative originated from a public request to EPA, ED and CEQ. This led to a concept launch with heads of EPA, ED and CEQ in April, indicating that the pilot year cohort of Green Ribbon Schools would be named in spring 2012. ED spent the summer developing award criteria and nomination infrastructure, consulting with associations, states, national and local NGOs, school communities, technical experts, the public, and numerous federal partners.
What ED-GRS Does
The recognition award aims to incent state education authorities and school communities to inform themselves as to energy and resource conservation measures that provide opportunities for cost savings and job creation; environmental and behavioral changes to promote health and productivity among students, staff and other occupants; and the use of environmental and sustainability education to support students’ preparedness for some of the nation’s fastest growing employment sectors.
The encouragement that the recognition award provides to schools, school districts and states to employ pertinent existing metrics and resources, and meet high standards in three key areas reinforces broader efforts to increase the nation’s energy security; reduce our environmental impact; improve students’ health, productivity, and career readiness; and, ultimately, increase the nation’s economic competitiveness.
How ED-GRS Works
ED-GRS recognizes schools that meet a variety of existing standards, implementing or employing numerous complementary policies and resources. ED-GRS is a recognition award, not a grant. Recognition awards incent change by communicating high standards and recognizing the most exemplary schools or individuals according to specified criteria. Among the long-standing recognition awards are U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and Blue Ribbon Schools Program.
State education authorities will serve as the first line of application in the school selection process. State education authorities will be asked to evaluate schools based on their facilities’ environmental impact and health and environmental education, as well as their compliance with federal civil rights and federal, state and local health, safety and environmental statutory and regulatory requirements. Based on the evaluation, authorities will select nominees to send to ED.
ED-GRS is a 50,000 foot mechanism designed for existing state and local programs and policies to glide into, regardless of their situation. This is in response to states and schools’ input that they are at different points on the path to the three areas (“Pillars”) of green schools, and need some flexibility as to how they create their state level green schools selection processes ED-GRS is not federally heavy, but instead designed to build policy infrastructure, relying on existing resources to address environmental impact, health and education issues at the state, local and school level.
Timeframe for Pilot Year
By the end of September, ED will post finalized award criteria, including details on eligibility, requirements and nominating authorities, as well as a brief video of the Secretary inviting states and schools to apply for 2011-2012 year awards. Revised evaluation and nomination infrastructure will also be posted for state authorities and schools’ use at that time. This will include sufficient application and nomination infrastructure for state education authorities to prepare for the application process. Following Office of Management and Budget approval, specific information with a deadline for presentation of nominees to ED will be provided to nominating authorities.
What Does ‘Pilot Year’ Mean?
The aim of the first year of a recognition award is to stand up an exemplary first cohort to which other states and school communities can aspire, and incent change among as many applicants as possible. Because it is difficult to know how many states and schools will apply in the first year, ED must retain some flexibility as to pilot year awards and will likely adapt the award in successive years based on lessons learned from the pilot year.
ED has taken several actions to lessen the burden on state nominating authorities and schools in the pilot year of the recognition award. These pilot year measures ensure that the maximum number of states and schools attempt the recognition award and, in doing so, give due consideration to related environmental, health and education policies. While ED seeks to incent as many states and school communities to create infrastructure to address these matters, ED will award only the most exemplary schools.
Where to Find Additional Information:
More information on Green Ribbon Schools can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools.
Individuals can sign up for Green Ribbon Schools updates at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USED/subscriber/new?topic_id=USED_27 and follow Green Ribbon Schools on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/EDGreenRibbonSchools.
Additional questions can be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.