Published April 26, 2024

San Mateo County, CA — The California Department of Education awarded the San Mateo County Office of Education a 2024 California Green Ribbon School award, Gold level, for adopting sustainable and climate-ready practices.

The California Green Ribbon Schools (CA-GRS) recognition award is an opportunity for public and private schools, districts, and county offices of education to demonstrate their progress in three pillars of sustainability: reducing environmental impacts, improving the health and wellness of the school community, and providing effective environmental education. Applicants are assessed on their ability to demonstrate progress in these three areas and are recognized at either the Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Green Achievers level.

Sustainability is a core practice at the County Office of Education and has been a priority of the organization for decades. For more than 50 years, the County Office of Education has championed environmental education through its award-winning Outdoor Education program at Camp Jones Gulch in La Honda. In 2017, the organization deepened its commitment to environmental education by launching an Environmental Literacy Initiative and becoming the first county office of education in California to hire an environmental education coordinator. Through this initiative, the County Office of Education has grown its capacity to support San Mateo County school communities in becoming more sustainable and climate-ready, for which it received a Bronze Level California Green Ribbon Award in 2018 and 2019.

The County Office of Education has also embedded sustainable practices across its organization. Between the 2018-19 and 2022-23 school years, the County Office of Education reduced its water and energy use by 14 percent and 23 percent, respectively. The organization also diverts 63 percent of its waste from landfills. The County Office of Education has also installed more than seven electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across its sites, purchased four hybrid vehicles, hired a Director of Sustainable Construction and Facilities, and launched a dashboard to track its progress in sustainability. The organization plans to install solar panels as well as more EV charging stations in the coming years.

The County Office of Education also provides a variety of programs to support San Mateo County schools, educators, and students, including the award-winning Environmental Solutionary Teacher Fellowship and Youth Climate Ambassador program. The County Office of Education also assists school districts in creating sustainability dashboards, reviewing sustainability practices, meeting school waste reduction laws, and applying for the Green Ribbon School Award. The County Office of Education is also working with the environmental education nonprofit Ten Strands to develop statewide climate change and environmental justice curriculum and resources for every grade level.

“Over the past few years, it has become clear how vulnerable our county is to sea level rise, wildfire smoke, and other climate-related challenges” shared San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee. “We are honored to be recognized for the exemplary work we have done – and will continue to do – to increase our students’ climate literacy and agency and help develop sustainable, climate-ready school communities across our county.”

Award recipients will be recognized at the 2024 California Green Ribbon Schools Award Ceremony in Claremont on April 30.