In the United States, responsibility and funding for school programs, buildings, and land comes primarily from state and local agencies. For this reason, the US Department of Education (ED) has limited powers in the areas of school infrastructure, sustainability, environmental justice, and climate. Nonetheless, ED continues to think creatively about how it can spur action and build leadership capacity to make all schools healthy and sustainable 21st century environments that provide learning for environmental sustainability. ED can expand on these efforts by inspiring school partner organizations and developing shared messages across the country for what makes a healthy and sustainable school.
Today, we are thrilled to invite national, regional and local nonprofits, foundations, corporations and community organizations to share bold commitments to advance school sustainability, encompassing infrastructure, health , environmental sustainability education, climate and environmental justice in America. By May 31, we are asking organizations and entities to complete a online form to share how they will advance at least one of these infrastructure and sustainability priorities:
- Priority #1: Ensure equitable access to healthy, safe and sustainable 21st century physical learning environments.
- Priority #2: Develop, maintain and provide environmental sustainability learning, such as climate literacy, green workforce development and outdoor learning.
- Priority 3: Build capacity for infrastructure, sustainability, environmental justice, climate change mitigation and adaptation in schools.
Those making pledges are encouraged to address at least one of the following parameters in their pledge submission:
- Environmental Justice: How does your engagement consider and take action to promote environmental justice, so that all students have equitable access to safe, healthy, sustainable and modern school environments and engaging education about environmental sustainability?
- Health: How does this work ensure access to sustainable school buildings and grounds that are healthy learning environments?
- Climate action: How does this effort help education leaders understand their role and take action on climate issues, including mitigation, adaptation and climate education?
- Capacity Building: How does this work strengthen the ability of school districts and state education agencies to continuously improve school environments and learning for environmental sustainability?
- Data collection and standardization: How will your engagement advance the collection and standardization of infrastructure and sustainability data, with the goal of developing informed and equitable policies?
- Transparency and goal setting: How do you plan to achieve the results? What is the unit of change and why do you think your approach will work?
Examples of commitments could include:
- Plans to strengthen environmental, sustainability and climate education in X number of schools nationwide by doing Y of Z.
- A partnership to provide indoor air quality technical assistance to X number of school districts each year for Y years.
- A commitment of Y dollars toward a specific school infrastructure goal that mitigates climate change, reduces utility costs, and improves health and learning outcomes.
- A proposal for X practices to Y schools that will allow for more healthy, nutritious, local products grown by the students in the cafeterias.
- A commitment of X dollars in Y community(ies) in support of some or all of the following: infrastructure, environmental justice, health, climate, or whole-school sustainability.
At the time of our US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards ceremony on July 25, ED will be sharing bold new commitments through a variety of communication mediums. Take on the challenge of school infrastructure and sustainability by making a commitment Today!