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Green Ribbon Schools Award Program

The U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award honors schools, school districts, and Institutes of Higher Education for excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability education. The recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education (ED) effort to identify and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness; and reinforces federal efforts to increase energy independence and economic security.

California K-12 public and private schools, early learning centers, and school districts are eligible to seek ED-GRS nomination from the California Department of Education (CDE). CDE may nominate up to five schools or districts for ED-GRS. If your school or district is selected as a California nominee, CDE staff will work with you to submit the nominee presentation form and package to ED for consideration. State nominees are generally announced by CDE in March, confirmed by ED in late spring, and celebrated in a summer award ceremony.

Application reviews will be based on the applicant's demonstrated progress towards reaching the goals of each of the three ED-GRS Pillars, which are:

  • Pillar I: Reduce environmental impact and costs
  • Pillar II: Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff
  • Pillar III: Provide effective environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), civic skills, and green career pathways

Interested applicants should first complete the 2024-25 Application Interest Survey. Beginning June 2024, schools and districts completing the survey will receive a school or district application to complete online. The survey and the online application period will close at 12:00 P.M. PST on November 4, 2024.

Four items to keep in mind when applying:

  1. When preparing your responses to questions, be sure to focus on three critical ideas:
    • Saturation: the number of students reached with achievement
    • Longevity: the length of time achievement has been active,
    • Evidence
      • Describe your achievements in detail using measurements and detailed descriptions. Explain the relevance of student projects, products, and activities to environmental literacy and sustainability.
      • Make sure to show and don't just tell. Reviewers are sitting hundreds of miles away from your school and have no frame of reference or context for what you are doing. Do the best you can to use your words to paint a picture.
  2. Avoid leaving questions empty whenever possible. Partial credit is given for developing achievements.
  3. Include all relevant information in each pillar (section). Our application reviewers only read one pillar of your application. Therefore, it is important to restate achievements throughout the application whenever they are relevant to the pillar.
  4. Review prior applications. You can view past Green Achievers' applications for inspiration from the 2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Selectees, and from the Past U.S Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Selectees web pages.

California Green Ribbon Schools (CA-GRS) Award

The California Green Ribbon Schools (CA-GRS) recognition award is the corresponding state award for the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools recognition award (ED-GRS). Your ED-GRS application review is automatically considered for the CA-GRS award with no additional work from you. To learn more please visit the California Green Ribbon Schools web page.

If you would like to receive Green Ribbon program updates via email notification, subscribe to the Green Ribbon listserv by sending a "blank" message to If you would like to unsubscribe from the Green Ribbon listserv, send a "blank" message to


Frequently Asked Questions

Resources from U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Resources to Assist in the Completion of the Application

ED-GRS Selectees

2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Selectees

Past U.S Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Selectees

Education Built to Last Tour

Informational Webinar

Green Ribbon Schools Webinar 6-30-2020 External link opens in new window or tab. (Video; 16:58)

Green Strides Tour 2023

Each fall, the ED Infrastructure and Sustainability Initiative External link opens in new window or tab. shares innovative practices and resources in the areas of sustainable schools by coordinating the Green Strides tour, which highlights ED-GRS honorees. In September 2023, the Green Strides Tour External link opens in new window or tab. came to Northern and Central California with the theme Schools for Climate Solutions. Check out the recap of this event in the following resources:

Questions:   George Garcia | | 916-322-0310
Last Reviewed: Friday, May 31, 2024
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