The Green Schools Initiative has a powerful long-term vision that is based on six strategic goals. A growing body of evidence shows that green, healthy schools and hands-on environmental education help improve the very things that concern educators and decision-makers the most: test scores and the budget. Green schools can save money and environmental education helps close the achievement gap. Green Schools Initiative works to transform the facilities, operations, and curriculum of K-12 schools in California towards sustainability. We aim to provide information, training, support, and policy advocacy to school Green Teams that will engage students in taking actions to reduce the environmental footprints of their schools. Our Theory of Change is that parents, educators and decision-makers will take action to integrate green facilities and environmental education into their schools once they have access to persuasive information and have been given the tools and training to easily implement such programs.
1. “Green Schools” Resolutions: Pass and publicize school board resolutions (public and private schools) and broader "green and healthy schools” policies in California. We will organize support among parents, teachers, students, school personnel and board members, and other key interests in specific districts, and will reach out statewide to mobilize broader interest in supporting green schools resolutions. Through this grassroots organizing, we will help build a broad-based constituency in support of long-term environmental health and ecological sustainability efforts. The list of resolutions adopted is growing!
2. Green Schools Pilot Program: Develop a model for implementing the school board resolutions, involving parents, local public agencies with health and environment responsibilities, and local private community organizations to channel support, resources, and expertise to implement the resolutions. We will produce a training model and downloadable “toolkits” for parents, teachers, and school board members for how to catalyze, organize, and implement “green schools” work in their own schools and communities. The purpose is for the Green Schools Initiative to train and support other champions to implement work in more schools, and to build an effective network of school community activists across California. We developed the Green Star Schools Program to streamline the implementation model across 7 environmental pathways, and have implemented it in Berkeley Unified School District. We initiated the "What's Your Green Dream School?" Contest to catalyze more schools to start Green Teams.
3. Green Schools Purchasing and Procurement Programs: Develop a program to assist schools with purchasing and procurement of environmentally-preferable products to both improve the health and sustainability of schools at minimal additional cost and to influence the suppliers and producers of school products by developing the market demand for such “green” products. This includes purchase of products with recycled content, no or fewer toxins, recyclable or reusable, organic, and other criteria. Provide school audiences with a Green Schools Buying Guide to help them easily identify environmentally-preferable products. We have built the Green Schools Buying Guide on our website and have offered training webinars on green purchasing for schools. We continue to train school purchasing agents how to "buy green" affordably.
4. Green Schools Network and Recognition Program: Develop a set of criteria and standards for evaluating school progress towards green facilities, green operations, and green curricula. Recognize and honor schools for their progress. We have a "How green is your school? Quiz" and a Green Star Schools Recognition Program. In 2012 for the first time, the federal U.S. Department of Education will recognize schools that are exemplary in these areas with a Green Ribbon Award. In 2014, we contributed to the inaugural year for a California state-level Green Ribbon Schools Award. And the Green Schools National Network has been formed, with affiliates in 48 states. What is still needed is an online reporting mechanism to report individual and collective progress, so schools can demonstrate and communicate effectively the measurable environmental, health, economic, and academic results of their efforts. Communicating results is crucial - success is contagious!
5. Green Schools Stories and Profiles: Produce a series of Green Schools profiles and stories aimed at parents, school decision-makers, the general public, and the media with persuasive information on (a) how implementing resource conservation and environmental health measures at schools can save money and improve student health and achievement, and (b) how schools can implement such measures with available financing mechanisms (state funds, federal funds, charitable contributions, corporate donations, rebates from electric utilities, etc.). These profiles will tell compelling personal stories of kids affected by “sick schools,” kids inspired to care for the environment, and kids, teachers, and parents empowered to transform their schools and communities. In 2013 we launched the Nature's Voices Project to go beyond the green schools profiles already offered on our website.
5. Expand our website – www.greenschools.net - to become a portal for green schools resources and action, including access to information on school policies and programs, downloadable toolkits for school community organizing, curricula, local organizations and agencies, funding resources, and on-line monitoring and reporting as part of the Green Schools Recognition Program.