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Schools Across the Nation Embrace Sustainable Practices

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Congratulations to the 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees! The 2023 cohort, announced April 20th, includes 26 schools, 11 districts, and four postsecondary institutions. These honorees employ sustainability practices and policies to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective environmental sustainability education. This year, two-thirds of honorees are schools and districts in underserved communities, illustrating that any school can adopt sustainability into their daily operations, wellness programs, and curriculum.

Schools Across The Nation Embrace Sustainable Practices

Could your school be the next U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School? Check out these 2023 honorees:

Browning Elementary School; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Students from Browning Elementary work with community partners in their efforts towards increasing food security.

Demographic: 93% free and reduced-price lunch eligible; 98% minority

Enrollment: 259 students

Browning Elementary School transitioned to an energy efficient HVAC system and installed a stormwater vault underneath the school’s playground. The Walking School Bus program integrated the school with the surrounding community, while promoting healthy habits. The school greenhouse has become a shared space accessible to the whole community, in addition to school day programming.

Patrick Henry Downtown Academy; St. Louis, Missouri

Patrick Henry students receive a free fresh fruit or vegetable daily as part of a nutritious snack program.

Demographic: 99% free and reduced-price lunch eligible

Enrollment: 201 students

Patrick Henry Downtown Academy (Patrick Henry) participated in utility rebate programs to replace the boiler, optimize the HVAC system, replace windows, and install water bottle filling stations. All classrooms are equipped with a calming corner to promote mental health and wellness, as well as a movement corner to promote physical health. Sustainability education is a mainstay at Patrick Henry. With a set time for formal garden instruction and all teachers encouraged to use outdoor spaces, the accessible garden and outdoor learning space serve as classrooms for all students.

Chief Leschi Schools; Puyallup, Washington

Students at Chief Leschi Schools build clay models of the salmon life cycle before seeing the actual hatching and growing process.

Demographic: Rural; 54% free and reduced-price lunch eligible; 97% Native American

Enrollment: 686 students

Chief Leschi Schools uplifts the traditional ways of the Puyallup people in their belief that “all natural things are our brothers and sisters.” The district restored and improved Lake Leschi, the on-campus wetlands, to create an outdoor learning space that inspires students, and helps them see their connection to the land. Connecting the classroom to the environment and careers encourages students to continue to be land stewards. All science instruction includes content about climate science, and the environmental science course includes lessons and activities about political advocacy.

To learn more about U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, visit the ED-GRS website. If you are inspired to make your own school more sustainable, visit ED’s Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub. Get monthly updates on nation-wide school sustainability resources, webinars, and events by signing up for ED’s Infrastructure and Sustainability’s Newsletter.


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