July 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the July 2022 Green Strides

In the News

Dep. Sec. Marten and speakers at 2021 ED-GRS ceremony

View the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Ceremony Live

The 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Ceremony will be broadcast live on July 26 at 2 p.m. ET on ED social media accounts (Facebook and YouTube).  While in-person attendance at the event is limited, anyone can tune in to view the ceremony online.

CNG buses

Clean School Bus Program

Last month, at Meridian High School in Falls Church, Virginia, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the availability of $5 billion in funding from the Clean School Bus Program established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace existing diesel school buses with cleaner and healthier electric and low-emission school buses. She was accompanied by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, whose agency is administering the new program. Learn more about the benefits of clean school buses and apply to participate by Aug.19. To ensure that this funding reaches the highest need communities, EPA will prioritize low-income, rural, and Tribal school districts in the selection process.  School districts can apply for 25 buses in one application.

CDC Study Covid Prevention measures

COVID-19 Prevention Strategies in Schools

A recent CDC study looks at what K-12 schools are doing to improve ventilation to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Most schools reported low-cost improvements including moving activities outside and opening windows. Some reported higher-cost improvements like replacing and upgrading heating and air conditioning systems or using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems. Through the American Rescue Plan, Congress has appropriated $122 billion to schools, roughly half of which remains available to support the immediate needs of students in pandemic recovery, including indoor air quality improvements. In addition to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other infections, such as influenza, ventilation improvements implemented now might lead to broader and lasting improvements in the health of students and staff members. For example, improved ventilation has been linked to better measures of respiratory health, higher student performance, and decreased student absenteeism.

Resources and Opportunities


National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's America the Beautiful Challenge

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the 2022 request for proposals for the America the Beautiful Challenge, a public-private grant program designed to support locally led, voluntary ecosystem restoration projects. The NFWF program will invest in the restoration of watersheds, forests, and grasslands while also working toward other goals consistent with the America the Beautiful Initiative. Approximately $85 million in grant funding is available. Program priorities include strengthening ecosystem and community resilience, expanding community access to nature, engaging local communities, and contributing to workforce development. Proposals are due July 21. 

Ben and Jerry's logo

Ben & Jerry’s Grassroots Organizing  Grants 

The National Grassroots Organizing Program offers one-year general operating support grants of up to $30,000, with an average grant size of $20,000, to small, non-profit grassroots organizations throughout the United States that are not located in the state of Vermont. Total funding is $350,000 annually. The foundation considers proposals from grassroots organizations that are working to help themselves and their communities create broad systems change through community organizing and movement-building efforts. The program prioritizes organizations that are led by communities of color while working toward a more just and equitable society. There are two upcoming proposal deadlines: July 15 and August 15.

Edison Elementary

Apply to Your State for ED-GRS in 2022–23

On Earth Day, April 22, in a video message from Miguel Secretary Cardona, as well as a blog, report, and press release, the U.S. Department of Education announced the names of the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. 

For those schools that have not previously received the ED-GRS award, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2022–23 application cycle by using the resources 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 educational agencies. State education authorities can find award implementation guidance on ED’s website and may email U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

School Safety Website Logo small

School Safety Resources and Clearinghouse

The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services offer K–12 school safety information and resources. There are also helpful resources from the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE)  on Response and Resiliency, and additional resources at youth.gov. The Safer Schools and Campuses Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) features an interactive map, which presents a state-by-state view of Clearinghouse resources in the Resource Library. 

Meet the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Get to know the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in our annual Highlights Report. Below, we spotlight three of the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

bellingham public schools

Bellingham Public Schools; Bellingham, Washington 

Bellingham Public Schools (BPS) is part of Puget Sound Energy’s Commercial Strategic Energy Management program, tracks utility use in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and has transitioned nearly all facilities to direct digital controls. All BPS schools are now built to solar-ready standards, and the district installed a 100 kW solar array at its most recently constructed school. Several schools use rain barrels, cisterns, rain gardens, or green roofs to reclaim water and/or protect water quality. BPS has utilized zero waste practices for over a decade, with all school sites offering food scrap composting. BPS offers free bus passes, Safe Routes to School curriculum and maps, and educational “bike rodeos” to promote alternative transportation. BPS has reimagined its food services program to implement a scratch-cooking model, farm-to-school sourcing, culturally appropriate dishes, and nutrition education. In elementary grades, integrated units of study embed environmental and sustainability goals, with such projects as Salmon in Schools, national parks fieldwork, and garden education. In middle schools, BPS uses a curriculum featuring ecosystems, natural resources, oceans, energy, and climate. Plant systems, a career and technical education program, allows students to investigate through experiential, hands-on learning. High school students may enroll in environmental science, Advanced Placement environmental science, agriculture hunger, and the environment, ocean science, and sustainable design courses, several of which use local Galbraith Mountain as a learning lab. The district’s Promise Tomorrow initiative is an opportunity for teams of students to create positive change on topics such as biodiversity, farming practices, and invasive species. 

American University LEED buildings

American University; Washington, District of Columbia 

In 2018, American University (AU) became the first urban campus, first research university, and largest higher education institution in the country to achieve carbon neutrality. American University is home to 10 LEED-certified buildings. American University uses both on- and off-campus photovoltaic panels for about 50% of its electricity demand, and the remainder of AU’s electricity use is matched with Renewable Energy Credits, so the university operates on 100% green electricity. The campus houses rain gardens, bioretention basins, green roofs, cisterns, rain barrels, and other stormwater management features. AU uses a three-bin system with landfill, compost, and mixed recycling in all campus buildings. The University offers a comprehensive alternative transportation program, including a public transit pass for students, biking program discounts, and electric vehicle charging stations. AU’s campus is a certified arboretum, featuring plants from around the world. American University has over a dozen sustainability-related clubs on campus, encompassing beekeeping, community garden, outdoors, zero waste, climate and conservation, sustainability, and renewable energy. Nearly 300 courses on campus have been identified as sustainability courses or courses that included sustainability. Thirty-eight of the 50 academic departments at AU include sustainability focused or inclusive courses. AU offers an environmental sustainability and global health concentration, as well as global environmental politics, natural resources and sustainable development, and sustainability management master’s degrees. It houses a Center of Environmental Policy and a Center for Environmental Filmmaking. AU’s Office of Sustainability administers a sustainability fund, which provides support for campus projects developed and proposed by members of the community.  

Golda Meir School learning outdoors

Golda Meir School; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Golda Meir School’s active green team has educated stakeholders, installed a new playground, and devised an interactive app to encourage physical activity. The school features automatic water shutoffs, composting, and cooking clubs. A holistic schoolyard redevelopment project replaced 10,060 square feet of asphalt with new green space and mixed-use recreation and educational areas. The redeveloped schoolyard manages stormwater through green infrastructure features, including bioswales, native plantings, a porous turf field, and a 26,600-gallon underground cistern. Green team students are designing a smart recycling bin that senses the appropriateness of the type of material inserted. Flexible seating, fidget toys, and other tools help keep students focused in class. Peer mediation, positive behavioral interventions and supports, restorative justice, yoga, meditation, and a mindfulness curriculum further support wellness and social-emotional health. With specific classes dedicated to sustainability, all students participate in lessons and learn standards related to environmental science and health. Five outdoor classrooms, gardens, a greenhouse, and an outdoor discovery cart support all classes going outside for at least two hours of learning a day, in addition to recess and organized sports. Classes grow produce and provide it to staff, families, and the community. Learning is enriched by walking field trips and local cleanup projects.


Green Strides Design

Connect to the Green Strides Webinar Series This Summer

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,700 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 28, 1–2 p.m. Climate Change:  Heat Waves and Air Temperature (NASA)

June 29, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

June 29, 1–2 p.m. 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates:  How to Apply with Live Q&A (EPA)

June 29, 3–4 p.m. Climate Fiction, Science Fiction, and the Culture of Sustainability (AASHE)

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

July 7, 1–2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

July 12, 1–2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

July 13, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

July 13, 1–2 p.m. 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates:  Fraud Prevention & Best Practices (EPA)

July 13, 2–3 p.m. Leveraging Strategic Partnerships to Advance Sustainability Education (AASHE)

July 19, 1–2 p.m. Land Use and the Impact on Our Ecosystems (NASA)

July 19, 7–8 p.m. Sustainable Aviation at NASA Aeronautics (NASA)

July 21, 6–7 p.m. The Trouble with Lionfish (National Marine Sanctuaries)

July 26, 1–2 p.m. STEM Activities that Encourage Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking (NASA)

July 27, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

July 27, 1–2 p.m. 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates:  How to Apply with Live Q&A (EPA)


2022 NAAEE Conference

North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference

The 50th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held in Tucson, from Oct. 12–15.  For more than four decades, NAAEE has convened one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals.  The conference is designed to promote innovation, networking, learning, and dissemination of best practices. The annual Research Symposium, held in advance of the conference (Oct. 11–12), attracts new and established researchers to examine in-progress environmental education research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.

K-12 Facilities Forum

The K-12 Facilities Forum is an annual event that connects and informs K-12 facilities leaders and business administrators involved in all aspects of planning, design, construction, and operations. The event will take place Nov. 13-15 in Palm Springs, California and more information on attending can be found here.

K-12 Facilities Forum Logo
Merced Union High School district 4-H

Four Future Farmers of America students who attend 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee Merced Union High School District present their sheep at the Merced County Fair.

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
If you received a forwarded newsletter, sign up to receive us directly next month.