December 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education


   Green Strides

In the December 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

In the News

DOE school facilities funds graphic

$84.5 Million for High-Impact Energy Improvements Upgrades Available to K-12 Schools

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the Department of Energy issued $80 million for critical energy upgrades in America’s highest-need K-12 school facilities. This substantial investment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law called Renew America's Schools will target infrastructural investments in key project areas to reduce school utilities costs, improve energy performance, reduce carbon emissions, and create safer and healthier learning spaces for students and teachers. Examples of eligible projects include new HVAC and ventilation systems, building envelope and lighting projects, and alternative fuel and renewable energy technologies.

In tandem with the Renew America’s Schools grant program, DOE launched a $4.5 million program called the Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools. This prize facilitates capacity-building within Local Educational Agencies to staff and train school energy managers.

Both programs will concentrate funds in rural and high-poverty school districts to lower utilities costs, reduce carbon emissions, and build healthier learning environments for students and teachers. To view the Funding Opportunity Announcement, visit DOE’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Exchange. See Dec. 6 and 7 informational webinars listed below. For the latest announcements and resources, visit DOE’s website for energy improvements at public school facilities.

Green Ribbon logo

States' Deadlines for Green Schools Applicants Fast Approaching!

Many states' application periods for the 2022–23 cycle nominees to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) will be closing around the winter holidays. These deadlines vary by state. State educational agencies will ultimately nominate their selections to the Department by Feb. 1, 2023.

ED-GRS is a recognition award for school sustainability that connects school built and natural environments, health, and learning. Schools, districts, postsecondary institutions, and early learning centers of all types that show progress in all three award Pillars are eligible to apply to their state education authorities. The ED-GRS Pillars are: 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; 2) improving health and wellness; and 3) offering effective environmental and sustainability education.

For those schools progressing in all three of these areas that have not previously received the ED-GRS award, now is a great time to contact your state about the 2022-2023 application.  All schools can advance toward these aims by using the resources on the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub. Interested colleges and universities may contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts may contact state educational agencies. If your state has not submitted nominations for this federal recognition award in the past, you can play a role in requesting that it does this year! 

2022 Director's Award Winner John Long Plaque Presentation

The 2023 ED-Green Ribbon Schools Director’s Award: Nominations Due March 1

The Director’s Award recognizes state education authorities’ exemplary efforts to administer U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).  Annually, the Director’s Award goes to the state education official who does the most to advance sustainable education in his or her state. If you wish to nominate a state education official, please send your nomination letter to by March 1.  Any state education official who is involved in implementing the ED-GRS award and who has not already won the Director’s Award is eligible for nomination.  Read about the work of past ED-GRS Director’s Award recipients

Resources and Opportunities

Ascension School composting

Apply for New Funding for Recycling & Composting

The EPA now administers funding opportunities for transforming waste management under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the $30,000 Recycling Education and Outreach Grants. The grant is for states, tribes, territories, local governments, and other organizations, including school districts, to fund projects that improve education and outreach on waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and composting by providing the practical tools needed to reduce waste generation, decrease contamination in the recycling stream, and increase recycling rates across the country in a manner that is equitable for all. Applications for funding are due Jan. 16.

University of Wisconsin Madison

Calling College Students with Big Ideas to Address Environmental Problems 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking applications for its 20th annual People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Program. P3 highlights the use of scientific principles in creating innovative technology-based projects that achieve the mutual goals of improved quality of life, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. Applications are due by Feb. 1, 2023.

US Global Change Research Project logo

U.S. Global Change Research Program Enlists Student Artists

Students can help others understand climate change and inspire people to take action through art. The U.S. Global Change Research Program is looking for youth ages 13-17 to submit artwork related to the topic of climate, people, and nature. Winning artists will be featured in the chapters of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, which is viewed by hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world. Student art will help readers of the Fifth National Climate Assessment see how the climate is changing and what that means for the people, places, and activities that students love. Submissions are due Jan. 27.

Farm fresh food

The 2023 U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Grant Request for Applications is Now Open

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service Farm to School Program has opened the 2023 Farm to School grant request for applications. Farm to school efforts help teach children where their food comes from and how food fuels their bodies. These efforts enhance classroom education through hands-on learning, such as school gardens and other educational activities related to food, health, agriculture, and nutrition. USDA expects to award up to $12 million in competitive grants to eligible entities. Apply by Jan. 6, 2023.

Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School oil boom

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Calls for Applications from Students and Educators

The application period is now open for the 2023 President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program and the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). The PEYA program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth, promoting awareness of our nation's natural resources and encouraging positive community involvement. The PIAEE recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education. Applications for both programs are due Jan. 11, 2023. 

pollution prevention challenge

A Pollution Prevention Storytelling Challenge for Secondary and Postsecondary Students

EPA's Toxics Release Inventory and Pollution Prevention Programs have launched Pollution Prevention Works: A Storytelling Challenge for Students, aimed at high school and college students. The challenge invites students to use reported pollution prevention information to identify a facility or set of facilities that have made noteworthy achievements. Students may make a video, write an article, develop an infographic, or create a story map illustrating how implemented pollution source reduction practices have led to reductions in chemical releases to air, water, or land. The challenge is intended to showcase achievements in environmental stewardship. EPA will award a total of $50,000 in prize money across two categories: high school and college/university. The deadline to apply is Feb. 17, 2023.

Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching Logo

Nominate the Next Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching

The U.S. National Science Foundation administers Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, created by Congress in 1983, on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The awards are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of STEM. The 2022-2023 cycle awards will honor science, technology, engineering, or mathematics teachers working in grades 7-12. Nominations close on Jan. 9, 2023. Applications must be completed by Feb. 6, 2023.

School Ambassador Fellow banner

School Ambassador Fellowship Opportunity

Educators implementing effective environmental and sustainability learning initiatives are encouraged to apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s School Ambassador Fellowship (SAF). The SAF is designed to leverage the expertise of school-based practitioners in the creation, dissemination, and evaluation of national education policy. The SAF has two options; a full-time appointment and a part-time fellowship. For more information and to apply, visit the School Ambassador Fellowship website. Applications are due Dec. 18.


Spotlight on a Resource: Safer Choice

EPA’s Safer Choice program can help teachers and school staff find products that perform and contain ingredients that are safer for children’s health and their classroom and school environments. Check out the Safer Choice fact sheet for schools for an overview of the program, why it is important for schools to consider safer products and a list of typical products reviewed. To help find specific products with the Safer Choice label go to the Safer Choice Products Search site. 

Walmart Logo

Walmart Local Community Grants Include Sustainability and Education 

Schools, nonprofits, and government organizations can apply for Walmart Local Community Grants ranging from $250 to $5,000. Funding areas include environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, education, and healthy eating. Applications are due December 31.

Solar Decathlon Pathways logo

Solar Decathlon Expands to Offer Programming for High School Students

Through a new DOE program, SD Pathways, high school educators and students have the opportunity to host a clean energy career talk with a Solar Decathlon alumnus now in a career related to clean energy and high performance building. Alumni will share their personal pathways to careers to inspire the next generation to join the clean energy workforce. Students will gain awareness about the many paths to a STEM career. Sign up to host a presenter in your high school before the end of February 2023.


Green Strides Design

Take Advantage of the Ongoing Green Strides Webinar Series 

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,900 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 (Note: All times listed are ET.)

Dec. 5, 5–6 p.m. James Webb Space Telescope, Art, and The Cosmic Connection (NASA)

Dec. 6, 11 a.m.–12 p.m. Leveraging Your Water Bills to Maximize Efficiency (DOE)

Dec. 6, 1–2 p.m. Renew America's Schools Grant (DOE)

Dec. 6, 1–2 p.m. Submerged NC: The Art of USS Monitor (NOAA)

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

Dec. 6, 6–7 p.m. Funding Opportunities for Recycling Infrastructure, Education, and Outreach (EPA)

Dec. 7, 12–1 p.m. Cumulative Impacts of Environmental Burden on Health (HHS) 

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

Dec. 7, 1–2 p.m. Energy CLASS Prize (DOE)

Dec. 8, 1:30–2:30 p.m. Conservation in the Classroom (WWF) 

Dec. 8, 2–3:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Dec. 8, 5–6 p.m. PBL – Science for a Hungry World (NASA)

Dec. 8, 7–8 p.m. Explore Earth: Remote Sensing & Sustainable Development (NASA)

Dec. 12, 5–6 p.m. Understanding Global Phytoplankton Distribution (NASA)

Dec. 13, 1–2:15 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Dec. 13, 2–3:15 p.m. Inner Development Goals:  A Three-Part Exploration (AASHE)

Dec. 14, 2–3 p.m. Overcoming Your Barriers to Achieving Carbon Neutrality (AASHE)

Dec. 14, 2–3 p.m. Advisory Committees for Healthy and Sustainable Schools (USGBC)

Dec. 15, 2–3:30 p.m. Funding Opportunities for Recycling Infrastructure, Education, and Outreach (EPA)

Dec. 19, 5–6 p.m. Robotic Search and Rescue (NASA)

Dec. 20, 6–7 p.m. Funding Opportunities for Recycling Infrastructure, Education, and Outreach (EPA)

Dec. 20, 7–8 p.m. Explore Moon: Using Habitat to Make Connections (NASA)

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

Dec. 22, 5–6 p.m. Explore Earth: Real Science in Your Classroom (NASA)

Dec. 22, 7–8 p.m. Explore Earth: Science Serving Society (NASA)

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.

Spring-Ford Area School District Arboretum

Spring-Ford Area School District; Royersford, Pennsylvania 

Spring-Ford Area School District (SFASD) installed geothermal HVAC systems and new programmable control systems, passed a district energy conservation policy, participates in an energy curtailment demand response program, tracks resource use in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and entered an energy savings performance contract. The district installed low-flow bathroom fixtures and water bottle filling stations. SFASD offers walking and biking paths, recycles nearly 50 tons annually, and does not permit vehicle idling. SFASD has adopted 100% Green Seal certified cleaning products, implements integrated pest management, tests for lead in drinking water, and conducts annual indoor environmental quality inspections. Under the guidance of industry professionals, middle and high school students designed and constructed several improvements to the district’s arboretum as well as a courtyard area. An elementary outdoor classroom features a pond, pollinator garden, raised garden beds, shade structures, and a glass mural. Students in grades K-6 take a STEM-based class focusing on the design process and reuse materials as they prototype designs. Green building design and sustainable architecture are also addressed in the Project Lead the Way engineering and architecture program for high school students. 

A.E. Burdick School Milwaukee math outdoors

A.E. Burdick School; Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

In 2017, A.E. Burdick School began planning and raising funds for a green infrastructure redevelopment project, which was completed in 2019, and included removing 26,600 square feet of impervious surface and replacing it with porous surfaces, such as trees, woodchips, native landscaping, bioswales, and cisterns. The improvements helped to eliminate a buildup of water that accumulated behind the school’s greenhouse and return it to the watershed. The outdoor classroom features movable tree "cookies," recycled logs and stumps, and Leopold benches. The campus also features food gardens, a “tot lot” for early childhood play, habitat spaces, a school forest, and berry patches. An outdoor discovery cart provides the materials needed to learn outdoors with a quick, easy setup. Teachers apply environmental lessons in all areas of the curriculum, with a focus on life sciences, nutrition, horticulture, and environmental studies. Older students discuss more complex processes, such as global warming and decomposition. The surrounding neighborhood benefits from Burdick’s urban community greenhouse, where students, teachers, and community members work together to plant, harvest, and prepare foods. In the last 12 months, Burdick has made multiple energy efficiency upgrades, including to its building envelope, kitchen, and office equipment. Burdick employs computer power management settings, thermostat temperature setbacks, hot water temperature set points, and daylighting. Students participate in classroom and garden composting. 

St. Martin of Tours Academy in California Garden

St. Martin of Tours Academy; La Mesa, California 

St. Martin of Tours Academy (SMA) is a Catholic elementary school serving 220 students in kindergarten through eighth grade from across San Diego County. Schoolwide learning expectations promote global awareness, concern for social justice, responsiveness to needs within the community, and respect for all of God’s creation. In 2015, SMA became the first Catholic elementary school in the nation to be declared a Fair Trade School, offering events and curriculum related to fair trade practices, and replacing products on campus for global sustainability. SMA performs among the top 25% of similar buildings nationwide, based on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking. SMA invested in a rooftop solar system designed to supply all energy required for the school’s operations and participates in net energy metering that exports surplus clean energy to the grid. SMA also installed high-energy performance windows, a water filtration system, and air purification systems. Landscaping on the school campus was replaced with drought tolerant native plants and rocks, reducing water consumption. Grounds feature bioswales, reused tree trunk stump seating, rain barrels, and downspouts that direct rainwater to fruit trees and the organic garden that K-5 classes maintain. Students engage in STEM activities that explore the environment, climate change, sustainability, and ecosystems. They demonstrate their acquisition of subject material by engaging in “real-world” challenges on topics such as agriculture, ocean life, life cycles, building models, and water usage. Eighth grade students participated in a regional SeaPerch challenge, an underwater robotics program that teaches students how to build an underwater, remotely-operated vehicle. In partnership with the City of La Mesa and their local waste hauler, SMA composts food and yard waste, and students clean up local beach areas twice a year.


Green Schools Conference Logo Square

Attend the Green Schools Conference

The Green Schools Conference will be held Feb. 27-March 1, 2023, at the Sheraton New Orleans. This event brings together all the players involved in making green schools a reality: people who lead, operate, build, and teach in schools. Designed to educate, connect, and inspire, attendees of the three-day, in-person conference explore interdisciplinary content during general sessions, while also having dedicated time with peers to work through specific challenges, share best practices, and generate momentum to further green school actions across the country. The 2023 program will address topics including environmental impact, health and well-being, sustainability literacy, equity, and whole school sustainability. The conference will also be an opportunity to connect with representatives of ED-GRS! Early bird rates end Jan. 13.

Winter Forest

Happy Holidays from U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools!

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.