U.S. Department of Education Announces 78 Winners of Green Ribbon Schools Program

James Elder, Campaign for Environmental Literacy, 978-526-7768
Sean S. Miller, Earth Day Network, 202-425-2836
Danielle Moodie-Mills, National Wildlife Federation, 202-797-6634
Mallory Shelter, U.S. Green Building Council, 202-742-3806

U.S. Department of Education Announces 78 Winners of Green Ribbon Schools Program

Washington, D.C. (April 23, 2012) – Today, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education announced that 78 schools in 29 states plus the District of Columbia, received the inaugural Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award (ED-GRS), being selected out of 98 schools nominated nationally. Of these schools, 66 are public (including eight charter schools), 12 are private and around 50 percent represent high poverty schools. The U.S. Green Building Council, the National Wildlife Federation, the Campaign for Environmental Literacy and Earth Day Network applaud these winning schools for their hard work and sound environmental education efforts.

ED-GRS is a voluntary awards program for K-12 schools that conserve natural and energy resources, reduce costs, foster wellness and integrate environmental themes across their curricula. Award winners of ED-GRS have demonstrated best practices in recycling, transportation, energy and water management, and facilities and grounds maintenance in addition to incorporating environmental education into their academic programming.

“In just one short year, the Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program has demonstrated that green schools are effective vehicles for innovation in the 21st century,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “The winners represent a shift away from inefficient infrastructures, unhealthy school environments, and outdated curricula and instead offer a road map for success in today’s competitive world. In fact, they embody a key foundation for the emerging green economy.”

“America’s schools still lead the way in making our communities more efficient and environmentally literate,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “By cutting their expenses and recasting themselves as living laboratories for a sustainable future, these Green Ribbon awardees prove a great model for well-rounded 21st century education.”

ED-GRS is modeled on the Department of Education’s popular Blue Ribbon School awards program, launched in 1982 to recognize academic achievement. To date, more than 5,000 schools across the country have received a Blue Ribbon distinction and the award is a source of tremendous pride in their communities. While a Blue Ribbon stands for the pursuit of educational excellence, the Green Ribbon represents the pursuit of educational excellence through the advancement of sustainable practices, healthful environments and environmental literacy.

“Too many of us still think of green as unattainable. But when it comes to our kids, we can’t afford not to provide them with health environments that inspire better learning,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. “Many of this year’s ED – Green Ribbon Schools nominations are disadvantaged schools, with a good portion of the students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. With today’s announcement from the Department of Education comes the heartening news that the green schools movement is reaching communities that need it the most.”

“The ED Green Ribbon Schools program finally connects the dots in a very public manner between a healthy school environment, environmental literacy and a school’s environmental impact,” said James Elder, head of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy. “We applaud these Green Ribbon winners for their foresight and perseverance in becoming a truly green school, and we thank the US Department of Education for getting on board with green schools by endorsing and promoting the green school concept.”

The U.S. Green Building Council, the National Wildlife Federation, the Campaign for Environmental Literacy and Earth Day Network comprise the Green Ribbon Schools Partnership (www.greenribbon.org). The Partnership initiated the original petition to create the Green Ribbon program, and continues to support the Department of Education and its federal and state Green Ribbon partners in successfully establishing the program.