Green Apple Day of Service Awards showcase leaders from the global volunteer movement

Published on: 
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Mary Schrott

For the first time this year, Green Apple Day of Service Awards were presented to leaders and projects who organized a network of nearly one million volunteers globally for Green Apple Day of Service. The awards were presented by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC and the Green Schools National Network at the 2018 Green Schools Conference and Expo in Denver, Colorado.

There are more than 700 million students worldwide, and one-eighth of those students enter a K–12 facility each day. Now is the time to prioritize how we educate and take care of the schools that house the leaders of tomorrow—especially when it comes to environmental sustainability.

Green Apple Day of Service takes place in over 70 countries and celebrates the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of global leaders in sustainability. With over 580 projects completed, sustainability in schools is gaining greater traction, from the support of health and wellness initiatives to access to environmental literacy programs.

We asked this year’s honorees to share their inspiration for becoming involved in the Green Apple Day of Service:

2018 Best of Green Schools and Green Apple Day of Service Awards Announced

Published on: 
Friday, May 4, 2018
Amanda Sawit

Honorees represent impressive environmental efforts in schools across the United States

Denver, CO—(May 4, 2018)—Today, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network (GSNN), announced recipients of the 2018 Best of Green Schools Awards. For the first time, the Center also recognized outstanding K–12 sustainability service learning projects and leaders in the Green Apple Day of Service Awards. Both awards were presented at the Green Schools Conference and Expo, taking place in Denver this week.

“We are excited to recognize a group of honorees who represent the breadth and depth of sustainability education and leadership,” said Anisa Heming, director, Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “The hard work being done by this year’s recipients is nothing short of inspiring and a reminder of what can be achieved when communities come together around our schools.”

This year, the Best of Green Schools Awards recognized 11 individuals, institutions and projects that represent the best environmental efforts in schools across the country and highlight the national leaders and innovators in school sustainability.

“Every movement needs leaders, and this year’s Best of Green Schools honorees reflect the transformative leadership that is needed to move the green schools movement from niche to mainstream,” said Jennifer Seydel, executive director, Green Schools National Network. “I applaud their passion and selfless dedication to co-creating a sustainable future for us all.”

Recipients include:

  • AmbassadorChristos Chrysiliou (Los Angeles, Calif.): As L.A. Unified School District’s director of architecture and engineering, Chrysiliou has provided remarkable leadership, integrating measurable sustainability goals and promoting green practices across the district, city and country.
  • Business Leader: Legrand North and Central America (West Hartford, Conn.): Through its Better Communities-Better Schools program, Legrand has raised thousands of dollars for several Green Apple Day of Service projects in schools across the U.S., and employees have supported a variety of efforts, from a solar-paneled garden shed to a green playground.
  • Collaborator: EcoRise (Austin, Texas): EcoRise is a pioneer in K–12 sustainability education, serving more than 400 schools with innovative and proven curricula and teacher training that has impacted 50,000 students. With EcoRise’s support, students have reduced campus energy bills and watering needs, installed gardens and more.
  • Higher Education Institution: Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus (Pittsburgh, Pa.): Chatham University’s new Eden Hall is self-sustaining in every way. By protecting valuable watersheds, incorporating surrounding land and agricultural resources, and rehabilitating existing farmland, Eden Hall is a one-of-a-kind venue for education, conferences, community outreach and ecotourism.
  • K–12 School (K8): Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School (Maplewood, Mo.): MRHMS believes that sustainable schools provide all community members with the greatest opportunities for success. It has integrated sustainability and green practices into its curriculum, including lessons in gardening, aquaponics, urban chickens, beehives, composting and rain gardens.
  • K12 School (High School): Eisenhower High School (Goddard, Kan.): Eisenhower High School aims to prepare its students to make sustainable decisions every day, fostering environmental literacy and stewardship by incorporating the environment into lesson plans, including its award-winning outdoor wildlife learning site, 14 garden beds and nature trail.
  • Moment for the Movement: Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly (Madison, Wis.): GSCQ is a peer-reviewed digital journal that highlights evidence-based practices for green, healthy, sustainable schools. GSCQ’s in-depth coverage includes qualitative and quantitative research, and explores emergent issues like net zero energy, waste and water.
  • School System: Oak Park Unified School District (Oak Park, Calif.): As the first National Green Ribbon School District in California, OPUSD has modeled creative environmental education strategies including building a classroom entirely from recycled sea containers, and eliminating pesticides and rodenticides from the districts’ pest management system.
  • Student Leader: Maegan Rosario (Ewa Beach, Hawaii): Rosario is an exceptional advocate of environmental stewardship, consistently committing her free time to maintain her school's aquaponics system, garden and vermicomposting bin, and coordinating community beach clean ups and recycling drives.
  • Transformation: Marumsco Hills Elementary School (Woodbridge, Va.): Since forming a student-led Green Team, the culture at Marumsco Hills Elementary School has transformed into one that values sustainability, with students actively collaborating with staff and administrators to implement green programs.
  • Policymaker: Kathleen Gebhardt (Boulder, Colo.): An instrumental player in passing the 2008 legislation establishing the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) capital construction grant program, Gebhardt remains a strong advocate through her leadership on the BEST board. Her work has helped fund 319 requests to address deteriorating school facilities in Colorado, positively affecting nearly 180,000 students.

In its inaugural year, the Green Apple Day of Service Awards recognized three leaders and two projects that have collectively engaged and inspired a network of nearly one million volunteers around the world. Recipients include:

  • Angelica Rockquemore (Standout Leader): With overwhelming community support, Rockquemore coordinated projects at two elementary schools in Hawaii to support STEM, sustainability and culture-based learning objectives, including building a water wall, custom weather monitoring data station, a closed-loop irrigation system and more.
  • Ibrahim Kronfol (Standout Leader): For six years, Kronfol has worked to spread awareness and encourage students to be good stewards of the environment through projects in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and India. Through his efforts, 77 volunteers working in 10 schools have positively impacted 1,000 students in 2017 alone.
  • Ocean Bay Elementary School (Standout Project): Through their SMART Recycling program, Ocean Bay Elementary in Myrtle Beach, S.C., reduced waste going to landfill, and also planted a community garden.
  • Peggy Soll (Standout Leader): Soll was the driving force behind the creation of an outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School in Bloomington, Minn., which features several learning elements like vegetable and pollinator gardens; bluebird houses; a dry stream; gathering space; and tree huts for reflection, reading and writing.
  • Solana Ranch Elementary School (Standout Project): As part of its sixth consecutive Green Apple project, Solana Ranch Elementary School in San Diego, Calif., introduced a “FarmBot”—a precision cultivation tool to reduce water use, energy, transportation and crop grow time—to its STEAM program, among other activities.

Take a look at our slideshow of award recipients:

See other recent news on USGBC Newsroom

Pay it forward in your community through Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Danielle Makous

At the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, we believe that all students should have the opportunity to attend schools that sustain the world they live in. As Earth Day approaches, we want to remind communities to look to their local schools as a space to promote a thriving, healthy planet.

Green Apple Day of Service offers a variety of project ideas for school communities to come together and reduce their impact on the environment, support health and wellness in schools and advance environmental and sustainability literacy. These projects also give students and teachers the tools they need to engage in civic participation and leave their communities—and the world—better off for those who come after them.

Here are some examples of projects that can help your school community have a lasting, positive impact on our planet.

Create or tend a school garden

  • Good for the environment: Gardens teach students about the important role of land in our lives, such as providing wildlife refuge and habitat, growing vegetables and fruit for instruction or cafeteria use and providing places to divert water from storm sewers.
  • Good for students: You can use planting a garden with students as an opportunity to teach lessons about plant cycles and the environment, as well as teamwork, responsibility and nutritional values.

Train custodians on green cleaning

  • Good for the environment: Conventional cleaning supplies have been found to pollute indoor air with toxins such as lead, asbestos, chemical fumes, pesticides and molds. The transition to a green cleaning program can both prevent this air pollution and decrease a school’s carbon emissions footprint by using energy-efficient cleaning equipment.
  • Good for students: This project is an example of intergenerational engagement in sustainability, with faculty, students and custodians alike benefiting from increased productivity in an indoor environment free from environmental pollutants and irritants. Whether it is training new custodial workers, expanding on what they already know, adopting new processes or testing new technologies, success is dependent upon custodians receiving appropriate training.

Communicate your school’s sustainability values

  • Good for the environment: Signs and murals are great and public ways for a school to show its commitment to healthy and sustainable learning environments. Signs remind people to turn off lights or faucets, resulting in better operational practices and more savings for your local schools and campuses. A mural is a larger-scale way to remind visitors and the school community about the school’s values.
  • Good for students: These communication strategies impact the education and behavior of all students, and all people, that walk the halls of your school.

Check out more project ideas.

Register a Green Apple Day of Service project

Apply for the 2018 Best of Green Schools and Green Apple Day of Service awards

Published on: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Carolyn Yi

Awards season is here, and we have a lot to celebrate! The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is excited to announce that nominations are open for two award opportunities:

  • The 2018 Best of Green Schools Awards, which are co-presented with the Green Schools National Network, celebrate the hard work being done by individuals, schools, campuses and organizations to push the green schools movement forward. Last year’s honorees included a school with student-led waste and energy reduction initiatives and an organization enhancing K–12 instruction for environmental literacy throughout their state. Submit your nomination for the 2018 awards.

The call for nominations for both awards closes at 11:59 p.m. EST on Fri., March 23, 2018.

If you or someone you know is making significant strides toward creating more sustainable schools, we want to hear from you. The categories, criteria and application links for both awards are below. You are welcome to submit nominations for yourself and others.

Winners will be announced and awarded at the 2018 Green Schools Conference and Expo in Denver, Colorado, May 3–4. This annual gathering of the leaders and innovators is the perfect moment to celebrate the leadership embodied by awardees. After submitting your nomination, register to attend the conference so you’ll be on hand in Denver to see (or receive!) the awards during the closing plenary.

2018 Best of Green Schools categories and criteria

  • K–12 School: Recognizing schools that have consistently modeled exemplary green school practices and share what they have learned with external communities.
  • School System: Recognizing school systems and districts that have created long-term partnerships, demonstrated a commitment to systemic change and shared best practices with external communities.
  • Higher Ed Institution: Recognizing higher education institutions or faculty members who have made a significant contribution to the K–12 green schools movement through partnership, research and/or scholarship.
  • Policy Maker: Recognizing individuals who have demonstrated exemplary efforts in promoting policies at the local, state or federal level that support the necessary systemic change to ensure that all children can attend a green school.
  • Ambassador: Recognizing individuals who have demonstrated exemplary efforts in promoting green schools in K–12 classroom settings, and have engaged community organizations to create systemic change to strengthen the green schools movement and create a more sustainable future.
  • Collaborator: Recognizing organizations and governmental agencies that have made substantial contributions in advancing the green schools movement.
  • Student Leader: Recognizing K–12 students who have demonstrated exemplary efforts in promoting improvements to their schools and communities.
  • Business Leader: Recognizing private-sector organizations and individuals who have made substantial contributions in advancing the green schools movement.
  • Transformation: Recognizing investments of time, energy and resources to transform a school, school community, event or policy into an exemplary model for the green schools movement.
  • Moment for the Movement: Recognizing events, initiatives or happenings that significantly advanced the green schools movement.

Submit your nomination for the 2018 Best of Green Schools Awards.

2018 Green Apple Day of Service categories and criteria

  • Standout Project: Recognizing exemplary projects that successfully address a critical sustainability issue for their school and effectively engage volunteers and students. Please tell us why the project you are putting forward is a standout.
  • Standout Leader: Recognizing project leaders who have gone above and beyond for Green Apple Day of Service. They may stand out for building on their efforts year after year, or for initiating a particularly creative project idea. The individual may be a student, parent, teacher, school staff member or community volunteer.

Projects must be registered on and must have concluded by the time the nomination or application is submitted.

Submit your nomination for a standout Green Apple Day of Service project or project leader.

Green Apple Day of Service projects in Detroit receive mini-grants

Published on: 
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Krysten Dorfman

Fifteen schools from the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) were recently chosen to receive a Green Apple Day of Service Mini Grant, which awards $200 to projects that promote a healthier, more sustainable school.

Projects this year are largely being undertaken by DPSCD Go Green Challenge Green Teams. Spearheading sustainability projects that range from community space transformations to schoolwide green initiatives, Detroit students of all ages will soon be turning blueprints into realities with support from the grant.

Greening schools, greening communities

At Renaissance High School, for example, the Green Team plans to use grant funds to host a communitywide Green Fair featuring environmental causes like recycling, solar panels and neighborhood gardens.

“The idea came up because we wanted to inform people just how important the environment is,” David Okorom, a Renaissance sophomore, explained, “and we feel the best way to inform people is to be hands-on.” Okorom and the Renaissance Green Team aim to hold the Green Fair during Earth Week in late April.

The project focus at Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men is improving the school’s expansive and underutilized courtyard. The FDA Green Team, nicknamed The Green Crusaders, noticed that the courtyard, which was typically locked, held untapped potential to become a colorful, active community hub. After surveying FDA’s student body to gauge their ideas for the space, the team will host Earth Day programming in their freshly revitalized courtyard.

The Green Team at Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy will take a different spin on “revitalization” for their Green Apple project by creating art installations from recycled materials. The 7th grade team, which had won the Go Green Challenge Recycling Competition in previous years, wanted to combine their knowledge of recycling with their artistic talents to solve the problem of litter while adding some color to their school grounds.

Youth leadership is key aspect of all of these projects. Green Teams are guided by AmeriCorps Green School Coordinators, but the ideas, planning and execution are driven completely by students. Frederick Douglass students even initiated a social media presence to promote their team’s progress, posting with the Instagram handle @greencrusaders. With their voices at the helm and Green Apple funds to fuel their journeys, these Detroit students are in the fast lane to healthier, greener schools.

The grantees

The 15 DPSCD Green Apple Day of Service Grantees, lead teachers and project titles:

  • Academy of the Americas, Ms. Carol Smuk, "Garden Day"
  • Burton International Academy, Ms. Stacy Kings, "School Garden"
  • Chrysler Elementary School, Mr. Gregory Dombro, "Green Eating for Everyone"
  • Davison Elementary-Middle School, Ms. Georgetta Johnson, "Keep Davison Beautiful"
  • Detroit Collegiate Preparatory at Northwestern, Mr. James Jennings, "DCP's Greenhouse Facelift"
  • Detroit International Academy for Young Women, Ms. Courtney Valentine, "Cleaning Up Our Greenhouse"
  • East English Village Preparatory Academy, Ms. Kimberley Stevenson, "EEVPA Bull Dog Beautification Project"
  • Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men, Mr. Chad Segrist, "The Courtyard @FDA: The Beginnings"
  • Greenfield Union Elementary-Middle School, Ms. Rudaina Kainaya, "Greenhouse Function"
  • Harms Elementary School, Ms. Jackie Waldron, "Improving Our School's Garden"
  • Hutchinson Elementary-Middle School at Howe, Ms. Penelope Johnson, "Green Angels Clean to Stay Green"
  • Renaissance High School, Ms. Kerry Williams, "Renaissance High School Green Fair"
  • Roberto Clemente Learning Academy, Ms. Stefanie Argy, "Creating an Indoor Hydroponic Garden"
  • Sampson Webber Leadership Academy, Ms. Lashon Clay, "Beautify Sampson"
  • West Side Academy for IT and Cyber Security, Mr. Arzell Jones, "Expanding On Our School Garden and Creating a Community Space"

Progress updates on all DPSCD Go Green Challenge projects can be found on the GGC blog.

Start your own Green Apple project

Green Apple Day of Service Spotlight (USGBC National Capital Region)

Published on: 
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Mark Bryan

Feature image: National Capital Region volunteers rehabilitated a set of planter boxes that had fallen into disrepair, so students could again grow plants on school property.

On October 28, 30 members of the USGBC National Capital Region community performed a Green Apple Day of Service project, gathering at John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Southeast Washington, D.C. Organized by Braden Reid of HKS and Craighton Ellingsworth of GreenWall Source, volunteers from across the region went to work cleaning and transforming a seldom-used courtyard. The space is now a clean, vibrant common area where students can congregate and plant a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

View our full photo album of the event.

National Capital Region Green Apple project

The courtyard’s benches were cleaned, sanded and repainted, allowing students to once again congregate in the outdoor area.

Our community service events rely on the generosity of our volunteers and donors, and we can’t thank them enough for their time and energy. If you’re interested in hosting a Green Apple Day of Service in your community, check out the wide variety of sample projects on to inspire your efforts to give back to your local school. Once you begin planning your event let us know so that we can come document your amazing work.

National Capital Region Green Apple project

Community volunteers also refurbished and sealed a sign built by students, ensuring their creation will withstand the elements for years to come.

Special thanks are due to the companies that provided product donations in support of the project, including Benjamin Moore, Ernest Maier, Inc., Home Depot and Chipotle. We also thank Lavanya Poteau of Johnson Middle School for coordinating with us and donating her Saturday morning to our project.

Start your own Green Apple project

Green Apple Day of Service spotlight: Mary Lin Elementary in Atlanta

Published on: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Kristen Keim

Mary Lin Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia, is so dedicated to Green Apple Day of Service that in 2016 the school leaders stretched it out into a whole "Go Green Week." This weeklong event raised awareness and funds for the school’s outdoor classroom and learning garden. Students, parents, and staff were involved in activities to promote sustainability in school and at home.

On Monday, the students took a pledge to go green and were given challenges throughout the week, such as bringing a lunch and snack consisting of no waste; wearing clothes that were either recycled, vintage or secondhand; and creating a fashion show using trash.

Mary Lin used its recycling fundraiser, “Turn Trash into Ca$h,” to support construction of the outdoor classroom and garden. Working electronic waste (such as cell phones, smart phones and iPads) were sent to a company who recycled the e-waste and gave the school the proceeds.

The Saturday after Go Green Week, students and families of Mary Lin gathered to clean up their existing outdoor garden. Volunteers split into two groups, one to clean up the garden and the other to install and paint outdoor chalkboards for the playground. After the day’s work, the garden had been revitalized into a beautiful learning space.

Mary Lin Elementary Green Apple Day of Service project

The following spring, Mary Lin began the construction of the new outdoor classroom. Though the school has many more plans to improve the area, the volunteers completed the first of four phases of their outdoor classroom. The addition contains a garden that can serve a new garden club, expanding students’ ability to participate throughout the year. The outdoor classroom was unveiled in September 2017 to the public, for the community to see the product of their fundraising efforts. Mary Lin plans to continue building their outdoor classroom in the upcoming year.

Creating an outdoor classroom or school garden is a great way to involve the community in your own Green Apple Day of Service project. To get started, read Green Apple Day of Service’s create or tend a garden page. To fund your project, consider having an educator at your school ask for materials and supplies through If your project is registered on, the Center for Green Schools will match funds raised through, up to $200 per project.

Register a Green Apple project