It's now real, thanks to your help! The U.S. Department of Education (ED) opened the Green Ribbon Schools Award Competition for FY2011/2012 a few minutes ago by posting the finalized the award criteria, process, and timeline online (www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools) along with a video message from Secretary Duncan (www.ed.gov/blog/2011/09/final-plans-announced-for-green-ribbon-schools/).
For this critical first year, ED will need our help in quickly enlisting state governments to participate in the program. So we're mounting a major push to get the word out to teachers and administrators across the country to contact their state departments of education and urge them to participate in the program.
Please consider taking a moment to engage your schools and networks in this effort to enlist states. Only a concerted and collective push from the community will enlist enough states to create a critical mass in this important first year, and thus give the Green Ribbon program the credibility it needs to continue long into the future. If enough states do not participate this year, it is entirely possible that this new program might not survive a change in Administration. And timing is everything: you'll see from the timeline posted on the ED website that states need to start designing their application process right now in order to get nominations to the Department of Education by February.
Below is a sample note you may use or modify as you wish to get the word out. It includes a sample letter to help local schools reach out to their state departments of education.
Thank you for considering our request. With your help, we can make the Green Ribbon Schools Award program a significant milestone in the history of the growing green school movement. If I or any of my colleagues and partners below can help you in any way in getting the word out or answer any questions, please let me know.
Jim Elder, for Rachel Gutter and Nate Allen (USGBC), Sean Miller (EDN), and Danielle Moodie-Mills (NWF)
Sample Appeal Note to Your Network, Schools, Members, Etc:
Help Enlist Your States in the new Green Ribbon School Award program at the U.S. Department of Education
Great news! The Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have opened the Green Ribbon Schools competition by announcing the award criteria and nomination process (see www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools). But we need your help to ensure that this program is a success.
Modeled on the prestigious Blue Ribbon awards, Green Ribbon awards will recognize public and private elementary, middle and high schools that demonstrate high achievement towards: 1) ensuring that all their graduates are environmentally literate, 2) eliminating their environmental footprint and improving learning conditions, and 3) creating a net positive health impact on students/staff.
This is the first comprehensive green school initiative to come out of the federal government. It lays out a comprehensive vision for green schools, sets a high benchmark for success, and will significantly raise the profile of individual green schools and the green school movement. We're confident that, like Blue Ribbon Schools, winners of the Green Ribbon will experience extensive national and local press coverage, re-energized staff and parents, enhanced community support, increased application rates (private and choice schools), and gain business partners and other private financial assistance.
Schools can only be nominated by their Chief State School Officer (CSSO). So it is critical that your state's department of education agree to participate in this program. And this is where your help will make the difference.
Please consider sending a letter along the lines below to your CSSO as soon as possible. Time is short; if your CSSO doesn't start to design their application process now, they will be unable to get nominations for this first year to the Department of Education in time.
If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact me.
Sample letter, signed by your school or a group of schools if possible:
Dear (State Secretary/Commissioner/Superintendent of Education),
We are very excited about the new Green Ribbon School Award program announced recently by the U.S. Department of Education. Modeled on the prestigious Blue Ribbon awards, Green Ribbon awards will recognize public and private elementary, middle and high schools that demonstrate high achievement towards: 1) ensuring that all their graduates are environmentally literate, 2) eliminating their environmental footprint and improving learning conditions, and 3) creating a net positive health impact on students/staff.
National studies indicate that some of the many benefits of such comprehensive green schools include decreased energy costs and reduced environmental impact, improved student and staff health and productivity, enhanced critical thinking skills, improved student performance and increased student engagement, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
We believe that it is vital for (STATE) to participate in this program to help build awareness and momentum for the growing green school movement in our state. Since schools can only be nominated by their Chief State School Officer, we urge you to please contact Andrea Suarez Falken, Special Assistant/ Acting Program Manager, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.205.0708) for further information and to let her know of (STATE)'s intention to participate as soon as possible. Further details on the Green Ribbon Award can be found at: www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools.
With your help, we can showcase the exemplary work being done by our state's leading green schools, and we're confident that these schools will be successful in winning the first ever Green Ribbon School Award!
Thank you for considering our request.
(Superintendent/Principal, Vice Principal)