April 2021 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the April 2021 Green Strides

In the News

2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award Winner

The 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Are Here!

On April 22, the U.S. Department of Education announced the names of the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees in a video message from the Secretary.  Across the country, 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five postsecondary institutions are honored for their innovative efforts to address the three “Pillars” of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 20 states. The selectees include 24 public schools – among them, five charter schools and one magnet school – as well as three nonpublic schools. Over half of the 2021 honorees are in communities where over 40 percent of the student body is eligible for free and reduced lunch.  

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a public engagement initiative structured as a federal recognition award for school sustainability. This initiative helps to facilitate state and local collaboration regarding school facilities, health, and environmental education. By highlighting schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions’ cost-saving, health promoting, and performance-enhancing sustainability practices, ED-GRS celebrates these schools and brings more attention to their work. 

Al mal tiempo, buena cara
CNG buses

President's American Jobs Plan Would Modernize Schools for Efficiency, Resiliency, and Health

The proposed American Jobs Plan would help to ensure schools are safe and healthy places of learning for kids and work for education professionals, for example by improving indoor air quality and ventilation. Funds are also proposed to invest in energy-efficient, resilient, and innovative school buildings with technology and labs that will help educators prepare students to be productive workers. Under the President’s plan, better operating school facilities will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and also will become environments of community resilience with green space, clean air, and safe places to gather, especially during emergencies. Funds also will be provided to improve school kitchens to better prepare nutritious meals for our students and reduce the use of single-use packaging and utensils. 

Resources and Opportunities

American Rescue plan

How Schools Can Use the American Rescue Plan to Ensure Healthy, Efficient, Equitable Facilities

In addition to this American Jobs proposal, the President  already signed into law the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, providing additional relief to address the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ARP provides $122 billion for new Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund awards to state education agencies (SEAs), which must allocate 90% of their funding to local education agencies. 

Two-thirds of the ESSER Fund allocations were made available to SEAs in March, so that they might immediately fund health and safety measures consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, including by investing in resources to improve indoor air quality and reduce risk of exposure to environmental health hazards. The remaining third will become available after submission of a state application to ED with a plan that addresses requirements of the ARP ESSER Fund. State consultation with and input from stakeholders and the public is expected be an essential component of the process. 

Undaunted K12

Spotlight on Two Resources to Guide Spending for School Facilities

The one-time nature of the ARP funds makes them an ideal fit for durable school infrastructure investments that will have an impact for years to come. Consult the new publication Five Guiding Principles: How Schools Can Use American Rescue Plan Funding to Ensure Healthy, Resilient Facilities for Students and Reduce Energy Costs and Emissions, providing actionable information for school districts as they consider how to use these relief funds to meet local needs. The resource identifies examples of school facility improvements as well as curriculum and training that both align with allowed uses and provide long-term benefits.  Also see the National Council on School Facilities' recommendations for states and districts as to how to approach this funding with a view toward improving school facilities and grounds.

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

Apply To Your State For ED-GRS In 2021

For those schools that have not already received the ED-GRS award, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021-2022 application cycle by using the resources and programs on Green Strides and by contacting your state education authority. Review Frequently Asked Questions for all three award categories. Interested colleges and universities may contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts may contact state education agencies. State education authorities can find award implementation guidance on ED's website and may contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

Meet the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Meet the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Throughout the year, we’ll highlight a few honorees’ practices in every newsletter.

New Roots Charter School Canoeing to Wetlands Site

New Roots Charter School; Ithaca, New York

New Roots Charter School is a public charter high school designed to create a learning environment that empowers young people as citizens and entrepreneurs to create just, democratic communities and thriving green economies that restore the natural world. The Cayuga Lake watershed is a focus of study each year. Students conduct scientific field studies, learn directly from community environmental organizations and local agencies, and share their research with their wider community through symposium presentations. They participate in ongoing ecological restoration work through the Cayuga Wetlands Project. Students engage in meaningful outdoor activities at each grade level, including hiking, gardening, stewardship of local parks, outdoor recreation and sports, fieldwork for science topics, gardening, tree climbing, ski club, and urban history walks. One hundred percent of the available school grounds are dedicated to an urban farm. The farm-to-school program provides a free, healthy breakfast and lunch for every student and staff member through the community eligibility program that emphasizes regional and organic whole foods. Cafeteria waste is composted and recycling is maximized.

Pre-kindergarten students at D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School examine worms in a school composting workshop.

D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School; Washington, D.C.

D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School (DCB) provides a dual immersion Spanish and English learning program in a LEED Gold-certified facility. DCB established a Department of Food and Wellness to oversee the school nutrition program, manage culinary and gardening education, and maintain the 7,000-square-foot school garden. The space is large enough to host a diverse habitat, including a butterfly garden, koi pond, triple-bin compost, vermicompost, sensory garden, 15 raised beds for crops, and 16 fruit and flowering trees. Students benefit from daily science education in all grades, with hands-on opportunities in the school garden, rain gardens, and forest. Students care for a variety of on-campus animals, including a turtles, fish, bees, and chickens. Students participate in hands-on, exploratory field trips that provide connections between life skills and the environment, including local farms, parks, and nature centers. After-school programming, called “The Hive,” prioritizes outdoor education and incorporates nature-based activities.

Multiple after school clubs at May Ranch Elementary School provide opportunities for movement and exercise.

May Ranch Elementary School; Perris, California

May Ranch Elementary School’s energy management plan encompasses upgraded HVAC units, photovoltaic solar panel structures, occupancy sensors, and centralized thermostat. These improvements resulted in a 62% reduction of energy usage over three years. May Ranch generates 80% of the school’s energy from photovoltaic solar structures. Cool roofs have a single-ply, white membrane coating to help reduce the heat island effect. Outdoor improvements include replacing 14,515 square feet of grass with artificial turf, planting water-efficient indigenous plants and improving irrigation. These projects resulted in a 24% reduction in potable water use and a 68% reduction in outdoor reclaimed water use over three years. The school composts green waste and food scraps. The 2,737-square-foot school garden contains 19 beds, 10 fruit trees, and nine aeroponic towers. From 2017 to 2020, the City of Perris and May Ranch have annually certified approximately 30 students as Junior Master Gardeners. Established in 2014, the Garden Club has grown to nearly 75 students who support the school’s garden, aeroponic towers, and campus beautification efforts.


Green Strides Design

Connect to the Green Strides Webinar Series This Spring

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,100 sessions that provide free tools to reduce schools’ environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and teach effective environmental education. Consult the webinar calendar, and submit suggestions for listing additional free, publicly available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov.  (Note: All times listed are ET.)

April 26, 6-7 p.m.  The Lost Lessons of Christa McAuliffe (Part 3) Effervescence (NASA)

April 27, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Environmental Justice and Collaboration to Advance Green Infrastructure (Georgia Brownfield Association)

April 27, 4-5 p.m. How to Host a Youth Climate Summit (NAAEE)

April 27, 6-7 p.m.  Using Culturally Responsive Practices to Engage with Diverse Public Audiences and Students (NASA)

April 27, 7:30-8:30 p.m. NASA Advanced Air Mobility (NASA)

April 28, 12-1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

April 28, 1-2 p.m. Addressing Plastic Waste through Local Engagement  (NAAEE)

April 28, 1-2 p.m. NASA’s Four Forces of Flight (NASA)

April 28, 3-4 p.m. Using Natural Aqueous Ozone as an Alternative to Traditional Cleaning Chemicals (AASHE)

April 28, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Design and Launch a Crew Vehicle (NASA)

April 28, 6-7 p.m. Explore Earth: Making it Culturally Relevant (NASA)

April 28, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Weaving Sustainability in Your Teaching (Green Teacher)

April 29, 3-4 p.m. Crafting School Facilities Policy Responses to COVID-19 (National Council on School Facilities and Cooperative Strategies)

April 29, 6-7 p.m. Visualizing the COVID-19 Pandemic from Space (NASA)

April 29, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Our Earth, the Moon, and the Sun (NASA)

May 3, 1-2 p.m. BEST Thermal Protection & the Artemis Program (NASA)

May 3, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Commercial Crew: Crew-2 Launch (NASA)

May 5, 1-2 p.m. Explore Flight: Bernoulli’s Principles (NASA)

May 5, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Explore NASA Rocketry! (NASA)

May 5, 6-7 p.m. Explore Moon to Mars: Designing Rockets for Propulsion (NASA)

May 5, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Explore Flight: NASA Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) En español (NASA)

May 6, 3-4 p.m. Crafting School Facilities Policy Responses to COVID-19 (National Council on School Facilities and Cooperative Strategies)

May 6, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Moon to Mars-Rockets: Send Off for Summer (NASA)

May 6, 6-7 p.m. Celebrating ISS Plant Science: Biomanufacturing Nutrients & Medicines (NASA)

May 10, 6-7 p.m. NASA’s Best:  Engineering Design Process (NASA)

May 11, 6-7 p.m.  The Lost Lessons of Christa McAuliffe (Part 4) Chromatography (NASA)

May 12, 12-1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

May 12, 3-4:30 p.m. Creating a Low Carbon Program (The Center for Green Schools/K-12 Climate Action)

May 12, 6-7 p.m. Aeronaut-X: Senses of Sound (NASA)

May 13, 6-7 p.m. Explore NASA STEM Team Building Activities (NASA)

May 17, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Explore Flight: NASA Gliders (NASA)

May 19, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Operate the Mars Rover and Helicopter on Mars with Scratch Coding (NASA)

May 19, 6-7: p.m. Explore Moon to Mars: Designing a Space Habitat (NASA)

May 20, 1-2 p.m.  The State of Decarbonization: Briefing on Pulse Survey (EPA)

May 20, 2-3 p.m. Building Community Partnerships for a Zero-Waste Approach (Keep America Beautiful)

May 24, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Clouds, Rain and Hurricanes (NASA)


asthma and allergy awareness month

May Is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Asthma affects approximately 25.9 million Americans, and more than 50 million Americans suffer from at least one type of allergy. AAFA offers tools to bring healthy messages to work, school, and home. 

Endangered species day

Endangered Species Day Is May 21

Every year on the third Friday in May, thousands of people around the world participate in Endangered Species Day by celebrating, learning about, and taking action to protect threatened and endangered species. Wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, gardens, schools, libraries, museums, community groups, nonprofits, and individuals hold special programs or events for people of all ages. The programs organized for Endangered Species Day 2021 will primarily be online events, digital actions, and remote activities. 

Better Buildings Logo

U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit Is May 17-21 

The U.S. Department of Energy's next Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit will take place May 17-20, 2021. This virtual, no-cost event will feature engaging and interactive sessions, as well as opportunities for attendees to network with their fellow industry peers and experts. View the agenda and register.

Climate Generation

Summer Institute for Climate Change Education Is July 28-30

Join a network of teachers from across the country for a three-day virtual conference to learn new tools, skills, and resources to teach climate change in any subject area! Climate Generation’s 16th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education will be hosted in partnership with The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Climate Office. Register and learn more about scholarship and cohort leader opportunities.

Clement Avenue School Grounds Aerial View

Clement Avenue School, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, transformed its schoolyard from asphalt to a sustainable outdoor classroom to benefit students and the watershed.

Connect With Green Strides

Green Strides: Resources for School Facilities, Health, and Environment
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
Facebook: @EDGreenRibbonSchools
Twitter: @EDGreenRibbon
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