The 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) awardees were honored on Sept. 25 at an official award ceremony by the U.S. Department of Education and at a reception hosted by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. The reception took place on Capitol Hill, where legislators were invited to celebrate their constituents' accomplishments in person.
ED-GRS awards K–12 schools, districts and institutions of higher educations (IHEs) that demonstrate excellence in all three pillars of a green school: reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. This year’s cohort includes 35 schools, 14 districts and 4 IHEs from 26 states. Additionally, more than half of the schools serve disadvantaged communities
At the official awards ceremony, speakers from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Campaign for Environmental Literacy and USGBC addressed the honorees and praised their accomplishments in providing healthy, sustainable learning environments.
“The commitment that you’ve put into doing things differently at your school, district, or institution takes courage," said Jenny Wiedower, senior manager of K–12 education at USGBC, at the ceremony. "The success you have had in creating positive change is a signal to our communities that we can collectively steward a world that is healthy for people and our natural environment, and that in fact both are needed if either is to thrive,” she said.
At the reception, members of Congress and their staff came to congratulate their districts' award recipients and express appreciation for their sustainability efforts. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., and the staff of Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., greeted their constituents individually and commended their work in school sustainability.
Since the award’s inception, the Department of Education has awarded 420 schools, 76 districts and 44 institutions of higher educations. The ED-GRS award was created in 2011 in conjunction with advocates, including the Center for Green Schools, to honor schools for their sustainability initiatives. USGBC commends the Department of Education’s commitment to honoring these initiatives and supporting the green schools movement.