Thank you for your enthusiasm regarding the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. The intent of this new award is to encourage as many schools as possible to look at environmental impact, health and education in new ways and to make much needed improvements. We are thrilled with the overwhelming support for and consensus around the award and the fact that many of you are already taking steps to improve your schools in these areas.
With the program’s three Pillars, we have identified for state, local and school programs what areas of action are necessary to become an U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School. But we are confident that the scope and impact of the award will extend far beyond the 100 or so winners of the pilot year. This is because the award is designed so that every school applying across the country will be encouraged to embark upon a critical learning process and, in doing so, connect to more resources, knowledge and programs to further its green school aims.
Under the program’s rules, states nominate their own schools, and the application form is a little different in each state, so you should carefully review your nominating authority’s requirements. States’ forms serve not only as applications but also as self-assessment tools for schools to learn about and address all important areas of the award: to foster health, wellness and productivity; to reduce costs; to provide a well-rounded education; to increase STEM skills; improve civic engagement; and to generally ensure students’ college and career preparedness.
State applications may not be an easy lift, but you’ll find that they constitute a different kind of work than most awards. In completing the application and reviewing our online materials and those posted by your state authority, your school will learn about technical, financial and volunteer resources. Equally important, your school will obtain a baseline assessment of where it stands and can improve in the future in the three Green Ribbon Schools Pillars, as well as some other requirements in the areas of health, safety and environment.
This means that the very act of completing an application in your state or jurisdiction can lead to change and improvement in your school. For this reason, I encourage you to apply and to take advantage of the many resources on our site. We know that every school can reduce its environmental impact, improve health and provide effective environmental education. What’s more, current financial constraints and national academic outcomes demand this shift toward sustainable facilities, health and education practices – not just among a few winners, but by all schools across the nation.
With best wishes for your school greening efforts,
Andrea Suarez Falken
Director, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
Please note: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition award and should not be confused with any green schools program conducted by non-governmental entities.