June 2021 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the June 2021 Green Strides

In the News

Federal COVID Spending FAQs Released

The Department released frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, including the American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER program, and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund may be used in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students in pre-K–12 education.  These FAQs do not bind the public but are intended to provide clarity.  They address school infrastructure and indoor air quality, among other topics.

Rappahannock water sampling

Education Innovation and Research Grants Now Available

The Department released two notices inviting applications for Mid-phase and Expansion-phase Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Grant projects. The EIR program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students, and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The fiscal year 21 Mid-phase grant competition includes various priorities for field-initiated innovations; STEM; Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills That Prepare Students to Be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens; and Promoting Equity and Adequacy in Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities, among other topics.

Resources and Opportunities

U.S. Department of Energy Logo

U.S. Department of Energy Offers Technical Resources for Your School Upgrades

Considering future school upgrades or planning a renovation? The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Better Buildings Alliance technology teams, led by DOE’s National Lab experts, aim to accelerate the adoption of energy efficient building technologies by providing technical assistance, resources, and guidance to buildings, including schools. As of 2021, 507 DOE technology campaign participants saved $290 million and 2.3M kWh in utility bills.  School projects have included recommissioning building systems, implementing energy conservation measures, upgrading HVAC controls, lighting and air quality renovations, and more. Learn more about participating in the program and best practices.

Edison Elementary

Going for a 2022 Green Ribbon?

If your institution has not already been recognized, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021–22 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) application cycle by using resources and programs available on Green Strides.  Review FAQs about all three award categories.  For 2021–22 applications, interested colleges and universities may contact state higher education authorities, while preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and districts may contact state educational agencies. Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are eligible only if nominated by state authorities. State education authorities may contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

Schlitz Nature Preschool WI

Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource: Children and Nature Resources Hub

This collection of free toolkits, reports, infographics and advocacy tools has been designed by Children and Nature to help you or your organization connect children, families, and communities to nature. Find these, and many other resources, on the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub.

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

Get to know the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in our annual Highlights Report. Below, we spotlight three of the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

Helen R. Godfrey University Child Learning and Care Center

Helen R. Godfrey University Child Learning and Care Center; Stevens Point, Wisconsin

The Helen R. Godfrey-University Child Learning and Care Center (UCLCC) is a community location for 4- and 5-year-old kindergarteners in the Stevens Point Area School District that also provides childcare for children from birth to age 4. UCLCC has two vermicomposting units that allow children to learn about food waste and what they can feed the worms. Children then use the worm castings in the school garden during the spring and summer. UCLCC conducts walking field trips on its university campus location, which offers a wealth of field trip possibilities. The children visit the Schmeeckle Nature Reserve, the natural history museum, Boston School Forest, the campus botanical garden, and the sculpture garden.  To encourage walking and rolling drop-offs, the center offers bike racks and daytime stroller storage. All students spend at least one hour on the playground at least twice per day. In the summer, the children spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Wrightsville Beach Elementary School Marine Science Program

Wrightsville Beach Elementary School; Wrightsville, NC

Nestled on a barrier island surrounded by a tidal estuary, Wrightsville Beach Elementary School (WBS), was renovated into a modern structure that brings in natural light, highlights the surrounding environment, and provides ample opportunity for students to take advantage of a variety of outdoor spaces. The WBS marine science program has grown over 20 years to encompass outdoor marine science and environmental education, classroom education, community outreach, interdisciplinary learning, and citizen science projects. Each week, students have class on the school dock to learn about the marsh ecosystem and local wildlife. Students collect and record data on water quality, tide levels, and the number of fish and crabs caught during each class for cross-curricular lessons. Reading assignments focus on marine life and the environment. Studies about ecosystems come to life through field trips and hands-on explorations of the salt marsh flora and fauna as well as tidal islands.  WBS holds an annual fifth grade kayak race in tandem kayaks. While navigating the racecourse and passing each motorboat manned by parents and teachers, students are required, as a team, to answer academic questions. Collaborative programs with the community include participating in beach sweeps, hosting an annual college student environmental science intern, planting sea oats, and creating signage for the local nature sanctuaries.

Portsmouth School Department kindergarten in outdoor classroom

Portsmouth School Department; Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Portsmouth School Department’s (PSD’s) water is monitored annually, as are radon and lead levels. All cleaning products are Green Seal certified. A no-idling policy is in place districtwide. Pest mitigation is primarily accomplished through non-pesticide traps and cleaning, and natural products are used for the playground or athletic fields. Since 2012, PSD has implemented an indoor air quality management plan using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tools for Schools. Portsmouth High School is home to the district’s wind turbine, erected in 2009, and a large producer of electricity in town. The district receives energy credits, which reduces its electricity bill. PSD’s food contractor, Chartwells, has a robust farm-to-school program that features local produce, such as apples, corn, potatoes, and squash. Portsmouth Middle School created an after-school club called Portsmouth Ag (Agriculture) Innovation where students planned and designed farmland on five acres, featuring solar energy, composting, pollinator pathways, an outdoor pavilion, and a high tunnel. The elementary schools have planted edible gardens as well.  At the high school, the Green Club has been in place for nine years. Students lead beach cleanups, tree plantings, electronic waste collection drives, an annual Earth Day festival, and planning for Aquidneck Island Earth Week. PSD works with several local agencies, both during and after school, to offer hands-on environmental learning.


Green Strides Design

Connect to the Green Strides Webinar Series This Summer

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,200 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.)

June 24, 1–2 p.m. What Schools Can Do Now to Boost Ventilation and IAQ (CHPS)

June 29, 4:30–5:30 p.m. Reaching Students As They Reach for the Stars (NASA)

June 30, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

June 30, noon–1 p.m. Higher Education’s Crucial Role: Building a Sustainable and Circular Economy (AASHE)

June 30, 3–5 p.m. Session 4: The Compass to Nature — 7-Week Webinar Series (USFWS)

June 30, 6–7 p.m. Solar System & Beyond:  Making it Culturally Relevant (NASA)

July 1, 1–2 p.m. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Projects (DOE)

July 1, 2–3 p.m.  Integrating IAQ and Energy Efficiency in K-12 Schools (EPA)

July 6, 1–2:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

July 6, 3–4 p.m. Deployment of Energy Technologies in Buildings (DOE)

July 6, 4:30–5:30 p.m. Aeronaut-X:  How We Hear, Feel and See the Sound (NASA)

July 7, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

July 7, 1–2 p.m. ECLSS, Water Filtration & Engineering Design Process (NASA)

July 7, 1–2 p.m. How Nonformal Education and Peacebuilding Can Assist Vulnerable Communities (AASHE)

July 12, 1:30–2:30 p.m. Hiring School Cleaning Staff During Pandemic Labor Shortage (Healthy Green Schools & Colleges)

July 12, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Our Earth, the Moon, and the Sun (NASA)

July 13, 3–4 p.m. Energy Savings Performance Contracting (DOE)

July 13, 6–7 p.m. Biotechnical and Medical Science Spinoffs (NASA)

July 14, 1–2 p.m. Funding to Assist Schools & Child Care Facilities with Lead in Drinking Water (EPA/USDA)

July 14, 1–2 p.m. Teach STEM with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (NASA)

July 14, 2–3 p.m. Ending Litter:  Policies and Practices (Keep America Beautiful)

July 14, 3–5 p.m. Session 6:  The Compass to Nature -7-Week Webinar Series (USFWS)

July 15, 3:30–5:30 p.m. Engineering in the Classroom with Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (National Marine Sanctuaries)

July 15, 4:30–5:30 p.m. Storm Warnings:  Hurricanes (NASA)

July 20, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

July 20, 1–2 p.m. Submerged NC:  Diving into Diversity (National Marine Sanctuaries)

July 20, 3–4 p.m. Supporting Occupant Health While Achieving Energy Efficiency (DOE)

July 20, 4:30–5:30 p.m. Sun’s Energy and Sun Protection (NASA)

July 21, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager - Ask the Expert (EPA)

July 21, 3–4 p.m. Creating or Improving Green Office and Lab Certification Programs (AASHE)

July 21, 3–5 p.m. Session 7:  The Compass to Nature - 7-Week Webinar Series (USFWS)

July 22, 2–3 p.m. Using Federal COVID Relief Funds to Ensure Healthy, Green Schools (Center for Green Schools/UndauntedK12)

July 28, 12–1 p.m. Using American Rescue Plan Funds to Improve Your Facilities Program (Healthy Green Schools & Colleges)


Wellwood International School Butterfly Garden

Plan a Green Apple Day of Service at Your School

As schools slowly resume classes, they will be in greater need of community support than ever. A Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies, and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments through local service projects.  Check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, and register your project online.  

Starms nature play
Hillsborough campus The Nueva School

Greenbuild is 21–23 in San Diego

Greenbuild is taking place Sept. 21–23 in San Diego, with virtual summits kicking off in August.  Greenbuild International Conference & Expo is the largest annual event for green building professionals worldwide to learn and source cutting-edge solutions to improve resilience, sustainability, and quality of life in our buildings, cities, and communities. 

Commonwealth Charter Academy Students Transplanting

Summer school students at 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Commonwealth Charter Academy, a Title I public cyber charter school, transplant seedlings at the AgWorks Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As the largest K–12 school-based aquaponic facility in the country, the facility includes fish tanks, grow beds, clarifiers, LED lights, and other technology to bring learning alive to students.

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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