Virginia Green Ribbon Schools

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This prestigious award is given to select schools across the nation that The U.S. Department of Education (USED) Green Ribbon Schools recognizes as schools that save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement. This voluntary federal program rewards schools that meet criteria in three goals:

As part of the Green Ribbon Schools Application, schools and districts need to provide information on three different areas.

Green Ribbon Schools Application

VDOE Application Materials 2023-2024

USED Information

School Year 2023-2024 GRS Application Timeline
 Date Deadline 
September 11, 2023 VDOE issues school and school division applications and guidelines for soliciting and selecting nominees for submission to USED.
December 8,  2023 Deadline for schools and school divisions to submit application to the VDOE for nomination.
December, 2023 VDOE convenes review committee to review applications against eligibility requirements and USED criteria.
January 12, 2024 Feedback provided to applicants concerning possible application revisions.
February 1, 2024 VDOE submits applications to USED.
February-March, 2024 USED verifies that nominees meet eligibility requirements and have been evaluated against USED criteria.  USED, with assistance from the EPA, then reviews and rates schools and school divisions based on eligibility criteria.
April 22, 2024 USED hosts national award announcement.
Spring/Summer, 2024 USED hosts national recognition award ceremony.

Environmental Literacy

The Standards of Learning (SOL) for Virginia Public Schools establish expectations of what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history/social science and other subjects. The SOL in certain disciplines support Environmental Literacy explicitly and in others implicitly. The Environmental Literacy Web page offers connections to the Virginia Standards of Learning, School Programs in Action, Teaching Resources, Grant Programs, and more.

Programs to support the Journey to USED Green Ribbon Schools

Virginia Naturally School Program

The Virginia Naturally School Recognition Program is a building block program for Green Ribbon Schools. The program recognizes schools for incorporating the environment into their curriculum, conducting energy and water audits as well as establishing an outdoor classroom. The VA Naturally Recognition Program is not a competition, it recognizes schools for the steps they take each year to help students become environmentally literate citizens.

Project Learning Tree Green Schools

Project Learning Tree® (PLT) GreenSchools! is a nationwide environmental service-learning program that inspires students to take personal responsibility for improving the environment at their school, at home, and in their community. Students, teachers, and school staff receive tools, training, and resources for student-led Green Teams to create healthier schools – and save money. PLT GreenSchools! helps improve students’ academic performance in science, technology, engineering, and math, develops students’ critical thinking skills, and grows student leaders.

U.S. Green Building Council – Greater Virginia Chapter

Green Schools Challenge

The USGBC Greater Virginia chapter challenges K-12 schools across the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia regions to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no or low cost sustainable practices for their schools. The program aims to increase environmental stewardship, strengthen community outreach, encourage creativity, and complement curriculum development. Participating schools can target projects that aim to lower operating maintenance costs; improve indoor air quality; conserve natural resources, and more! Schools are matched with volunteer mentors to help guide project development and implementation.