Every fall, the United States Department of Education and state Departments of Education host the Green Schools recognition and awards program, which seeks to inspire schools and districts to strive for 21st-century excellence in sustainability practices. The California Green Ribbon Schools Award Program (CA-GRS) and the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) Award recognizes school communities that achieve progress towards sustainability in three “pillars:”

  • Pillar I: Reducing environmental impact and costs
  • Pillar II: Improving the health and wellness of students and staff
  • Pillar III: Providing effective environmental and sustainability education

In California, nominations for the federal ED-GRS award are made by participating in the CA Green Ribbon Schools Award (CA-GRS) program. To reduce repetition, CA-GRS uses the same application as the federal ED-GRS program but recognizes all schools that can demonstrate achievement of the three pillars in a tiered recognition: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Green Achiever. Applications are due annually in November. Schools, districts, and county offices are welcome to apply.

Support Services for Applying to the California Green Ribbon Schools Program

The San Mateo County Office of Education offers introductory and customized technical assistance for the CA Green Ribbon Program between August to November annually to help school programs in SMC successfully apply. Read below to learn more about the services offered in 2021-22.

Webinar Series

Students sort through trashJoin us in this interactive and informative webinar series that will prepare a school community to apply to the California Green Ribbon Schools Program. All webinars will take place over Zoom from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Links will be shared shortly.

Webinar 1: Introduction to California Green Ribbon Schools Award Program
Monday, September 13, 2021
This introductory session provides an overview of the CA-GRS process and application, as well as the resources available. All school stakeholders who are pursuing the CA-GRS this year are encouraged to attend!

Webinar 2: Pillar I/IIA Application Questions - Green Facilities and Operations
Monday, September 20, 2021
This session will focus on Green Ribbon Pillar I and IIA which cover energy, water, waste, transportation, and environmental health. The recommended audience for this session is facilities managers and business officers. 

Webinar 3: Pillar IIB Application Questions - Health and Wellness
Monday, October 4, 2021
This session will cover Pillar IIB which includes questions on nutrition, well-being, health, and community engagement (Green Ribbon Pillar IIB). The recommended audience for this session is student services and food services.

Webinar 4: Pillar III Application Questions - Effective Environmental Education
Monday, October 18, 2021
This session will focus on Green Ribbon Pillar III, Effective Environmental Education. The recommended audience for this session is curriculum leads and teacher leaders.

Customized Technical Assistance

Fill out this form or email elsi@smcoe.org to receive FREE technical assistance from the San Mateo County Office of Education to apply for the California Green Ribbon Awards Program. Sample technical assistance services include:

  • Coaching on project management, stakeholder engagement, and application writing
  • Application review and guidance on best practices
  • Direct support with project management and stakeholder engagement

Read a full description of available technical assistance.

Application Support Resources

Local Leaders in the CA-GRS Program

Curious about how other educators felt about the process and benefits of participating in the CA Green Ribbon Schools Award Program? Click on the summaries below or watch interviews from local school leaders whose schools were recognized in the 2020-21 school year.

Project Management Resources

Andra Yeghoian

Coordinator, Environmental Literacy and Sustainability

Email: ayeghoian@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5406