Earlier this afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Council on Environmental Quality Acting Chair Mike Boots announced the 2014 class of Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) honorees, highlighting a total of 57 schools and school districts from around the country.
The 48 schools and nine districts hail from 30 state education agencies, and in their own ways are each excelling across the three pillars of this award: minimized building impact and cost savings, improved occupant health and wellness, and effective education for sustainability. We congratulate all of the awardees and encourage everyone to read more about them over at the Department of Education.
But in a larger sense, today’s Earth Day announcement represents a significant moment in the growth of the green schools movement. Initially, ED-GRS created a common definition for a green school that united the education, health and environmental communities to work toward the same goals. Today, ED-GRS continues to provide this framework, and it is inspiring the international community to follow its lead. As of right now, 31 Global Coalition for Green Schools member organizations are working to establish their own national coalitions, gleaning insight from the ED-GRS program's comprehensive and accessible approach to school sustainability.
As Duncan highlighted in his remarks, with enough motivation and leadership, “any school or district can do what these schools and districts are doing today.” After three years of awardees, ED-GRS and its corresponding Green Strides initiative have grown into a program that can connect all schools and stakeholders with the resources and best practices needed to advance whole school sustainability. This is the cause for real celebration.
Whether a school is public or private, serves an urban or rural population, or has a significant number of low income students, ED-GRS provides a model for any school interested in improving its goals around sustainability. Please join us in helping to connect your local schools with the resources on the Green Strides platform to access free webinars, tools and trainings, as well as best practices from previous ED-GRS awardees. And finally, please join us in congratulating the 2014 awardees and encouraging them to share their success stories!