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About the Challenge

The purpose of the San Mateo County Sustainable and Climate Ready Schools Challenge (SCRS) is to identify students, teachers, administrators, and community members who are leading meaningful change in the Campus, Curriculum, or greater Community, and to recognize them for their impact towards creating a sustainable future. Applications open each spring. Thank you to Peninsula Clean Energy for their support and sponsorship of the financial awards! Please note that special consideration will be given to projects focusing on clean energy, decarbonization, and electrification.

How to Participate


  • This program is open to both public and private PK–12 schools within San Mateo County.

  • Submissions can be made from anyone in a school community: administrators, faculty and staff, students, parent volunteers, community partners, etc.

  • There can be multiple submissions from any school site.

  • If an activity is repeated in future years, leaders must submit each year to earn ongoing recognition.

All submissions will follow the four-step process below:

Step 1: Overview

Describe the project. Include information about WHAT took place, HOW it went, and WHO was involved. Additionally, explain how the effort aligns with equity and justice, and/or health and wellness:

  • Equity and Justice: When explaining the connection to equity and justice, applicants should include how the effort reached a diverse audience (consider race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status), and/or provided access to groups of students in an equitable manner. Another example is if the actions reduced negative environmental impacts on vulnerable communities. 
  • Health and Wellness: Explain how this effort enhanced the wellbeing and happiness of all stakeholders in the school community and beyond.

Step 2: Evidence and Impact

Provide relevant context and details; upload evidence of the action that took place. These may be in the form of photos, flyers, testimonials, etc. 

Step 3: Learning

Reflect on what the sustainability champions and/or community learned about environmental, social, and economic sustainability by taking this action. 

Step 4: Next Steps

Provide an overview of what steps will be taken by the school, student, and/or teacher to ensure that the momentum and knowledge gained from the project will carry through. Submissions with the strongest clear steps forward will be considered for a financial award (up to $500) which will be put towards implementing the plan for next steps. 

Challenge Structure

Select a Topical Category

SMCOE's sustainability recognition and awards program is built around focus area topics that draw from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) and One Planet Living Framework. Please choose the focus area categories that fit your submission (select all that apply)

Food and Nutrition
Promoting sustainable, humane farming and healthy diets which are high in local, seasonal organic food and vegetable protein.

Living Schoolyards and Gardens
Protecting and restoring land for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Water Use
Use water efficiently, protect local water sources, and contribute to flood risk management.

Green Transportation
Reducing the need to travel, and encouraging walking, cycling, and low-carbon transport.

Clean Energy
Making buildings and manufacturing energy-efficient and supplying all energy with renewables.

Waste Management
Reducing consumption, reusing, and recycling to achieve zero waste and zero pollution.

Indoor Air Quality
Reducing the pollutants in the air that cause poor air quality and negative health effects.

Sustainable Construction and Facilities 
Making buildings and grounds more sustainable and efficient.

Sea Level Rise
Reducing pollution, waste, and overconsumption in Marine ecosystems while addressing sea level rise and effects on the shoreline.

Select a Pathway 

Once an Analysis Lense is selected, there are three pathways in which a stakeholder may submit achievements to be considered for Sustainable and Climate Ready Schools recognition:

Campus: Facilities and Operations
Facilities and operations that model sustainable and climate-ready practices, minimize disruptions for learning, and serve as a lab for innovation.

Curriculum and Instruction
Curriculum that integrates environmental and sustainability education, climate literacy, and solutionary principles and practices. 

Community and Culture
Strategic partnerships that strengthen schools' collaboration with the larger community to create sustainable, climate-ready systems; sustainable core values are fully embedded in the organization and embraced by all school community members. 

Other Recognition Programs

SMCOE’s SCRS Challenge allows leaders from school communities to build a portfolio of achievements, which can later be utilized in regional, state, and federally sponsored recognition and awards programs, such as: