Your Green Apple project guide

Nearly a million volunteers in more than 70 countries have participated in a Green Apple Day of Service project since 2012.

For project leaders that need some help getting started, we've created this checklist to help ensure the success of any Green Apple project, big or small. This guide covers each step of making your project happen, from getting it off the ground and enlisting volunteers to executing the event.

Table of Contents

Part One: Getting Started
Part Two: Putting the Pieces Together
Part Three: Planning Your Project
Part Four: Making Preparations
Part Five: The Final Details
Part Six: Executing the Event
Part Seven: The Wrap-up

Explore all GADOS project resources

Part One: Getting started

Register your project.
Create a user account and register your project or projects to get started. Not only will this put your event on the map for everyone to see, it will give you access to a bunch of resources and planning tools to make your event a success. Not 100 percent sure about your project’s date? Pick something close, and you can confirm it in your account later.
Pick your project location.
Pick the school where your Green Apple Day of Service will take place. If you are not a teacher, school staff, or student, reach out to schools in your community. Share the flyer called “Why Participate?” to let them know what the day is all about. Also look over our handy Site Checklist to help you think about the logistics of hosting your project at a particular site. Once you know the location, update your project registration in your Green Apple account.
Find out what your school needs.
Talk with teachers, students, and administrators to assess their needs and goals. Take a trip through the inside and outside of your school and write down what areas or spaces can be improved and how.
Think about what kind of impact you will make.
Consider what areas of sustainability are most important to the school and your community, what support and resources are available, and what your school needs. Be sure to update your project registration to reflect these goals so that we can send you additional help, tailored to your project.

Part Two: Putting the Pieces Together

Craft your project vision.
Define the goals and scope of your project and give your project a name. Spend time doing some research, especially thinking about logistics, funding, and volunteer requirements. Be sure to update your project registration to include your project name and a short description, and adjust your intended impact categories.
Establish a timeline.
Create a timeline that includes the activities, steps, and permissions you need leading up to your project date. Include plans for promoting your event and recruiting volunteers and partners. Check out our sample project timeline document.
Create a fundraising strategy.
Create a budget for your project that includes the cost of all necessary materials and services. Even if it is just providing lunch or snacks for your volunteers, figuring it out early will give you more time later to focus on your project. Register the project on DonorsChoose.org, select materials and supplies you need, and label the project as a Green Apple Day of Service so our corporate partners can help you fundraise. If you need to raise additional funds, create a plan to raise money from neighbors, businesses, school booster clubs, or other sources. Download our tips for fundraising.
Build your team.
Find others, inside and outside of your school community, who are interested in making an impact. Building a team with a diverse range of skills and experiences is an important way to boost the success of your project. And don’t forget about the students! Students of all ages are awesome green schools ambassadors, and service projects are great opportunities for them to demonstrate their leadership skills.

Part Three: Planning Your Project

Assign roles and responsibilities.
Consider each team member’s strengths and resources to maximize everyone’s contributions. Define roles and responsibilities for your team, and consider organizing a planning meeting to get every on the same page.
Finalize important details.
Double check to make sure that the dates, times, and project details you have in mind work with your school. Be sure to think about how many volunteers will be on site, whether you will need to store materials, the level of student involvement, and facility staffing needs.
Take stock of fundraising.
Share your DonorsChoose.org page with your friends, family, and community to hit your fundraising goals. Label your project as a Green Apple Day of Service project so that our corporate partners can match you dollar for dollar. Check out our additional fundraising tips and strategies.
Gather materials and resources.
Outside of your DonorsChoose.org page, what additional materials and resources do you need to secure? What can be purchased and what can be borrowed? Work with your team to strategize how you will get, haul, and store materials and supplies.

Part Four: Making Preparations

Get the word out.
Get the word out to friends and family, the school community, and local press. Use the event flyer template to create a flyer for your event that you can put up in the school and on community message boards. Reach out to news outlets and invite them to your project, start to promote your project on social media, and engage local leaders and influencers. Check out our Communications toolkit.
Create a detailed schedule for your Green Apple Day of Service.
Include roles and responsibilities, timing, location details, and a materials list. Share this with volunteers to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Conduct any necessary volunteer or staff training.
Make sure that your volunteers are equipped for success. Consider hosting an in-person meeting or happy hour with school staff, community volunteers, or parents who will be involved.
Do a final site visit.
Check to make sure everything is in order and whether there have been any last minute changes to the site. Use the Site Checklist to make sure you've covered all your bases.

Part Five: The Final Details

Send out final details to your volunteers
Send an email to your volunteers a few days before your project to make sure they have all the information they need. Include project details, directions to the site, and any specific instructions that are necessary to their success.
Gather final materials and resources.
If you successfully fundraised through DonorsChoose.org, confirm delivery dates for your materials. Purchase any necessary additional materials, and gather all donated materials. If you are borrowing tools and supplies, keep track of where everything needs to be returned to, and be sure to label everything to avoid mix ups.
Print out signs, sign in sheets, and instructions.
Make sure you have adequate signage for your school site (especially if it is hard to find), have sign in sheets for your volunteers, and print any necessary resources ahead of time.
Make a backup plan.
For outdoor projects, make sure you have a backup plan or rain date for uncooperative weather.

Part Six: Executing the Event

Show up early.
Be there first and make sure that everything is organized and ready to go for the project. Put out sign in sheets and make sure everyone is able to find your event.
Have clear instructions ready to share with your volunteers.
Think about the minimum amount of work that should be done, and have instructions ready in case you accomplish more than you anticipated.
Make sure someone takes a few pictures of you and your volunteers hard at work.
Take before and after pictures, as well as photos of your event. The best photos show people at work, making a difference at the school together. Be sure to share these photos on social media with the hashtag #greenappleday, send photos directly to us at schools@usgbc.org, and broadcast the impact to your school community!


Encourage everyone on site to use #greenappleday to share the progress of your project!

Part Seven: The Wrap-up

Tell us how it went.
Update your project details in your Green Apple account to record your volunteer numbers, and tell us a little bit more about the impact of your project. We will also follow up with an additional survey where you can give some more general feedback.
Thank everyone for their time and efforts.
Send a thank you note to your volunteers, school administrators, sponsors, and everyone who made your event happen. You can also host a small party to toast your success!
Document your impact.
Update your project profile to make sure your community and other Green Apple Day of Service participants know the specific ways that your project improved your school or community. Use numbers to tell the story: how many plants, how many square feet, how many watts, how many gallons, etc. And, of course, be sure to include your photos!
Get feedback.
Send out a survey about your event to your volunteers, the school community, and school staff. Find out what works well and what could be better next time.

Green Apple Day of Service Project Checklist

USGBC Minnesota celebrates Planting Week with Green Apple projects

Published on: 
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Author: 
Steph Leonard

May in Minnesota is a bit unpredictable—it could be snowing, it could be 85 degrees, it could be raining for days on end. After a bit of a it all this May, the weather shifted and delivered mostly sunshine and warmth during the week of May 22, just in time for USGBC Minnesota to take part in the second annual Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Planting Week.

Nearly 100 people, including Bloomington Public Schools Superintendent Les Fujitake and City of Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead, gathered in the newly built outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School to help plant their gardens and celebrate those who make outdoor learning possible.

Teachers organized a schoolwide contest to select students from each grade to attend, and parents and community members were invited. The outdoor classroom will serve as a learning and reflection space for the students and as a gathering space for the community, who are welcome to come and learn about sustainable sites that incorporate things like vegetable gardens, native plants and water management measures.

It is an excellent example of how communities can support their schools, schools can support their students and students can pitch into an outstanding project that will inspire environmental stewards for years to come. After a brief program, including a student rendition of "America the Beautiful," another student talking about what schoolyard gardening has meant to him, Superintendent Fujitake reading the garden proclamation, and Mayor Winstead sharing a few thoughts, students and community members (literally) dug in and planted eight vegetable planting boxes, some native grasses and pollinator-friendly plants.

It was exciting to share with the students that their efforts were connected to schools across the state planting their gardens during Schoolyard Garden Planting Week. As part of planting week, we track each project under the banner of Green Apple Day of Service to better understand need and impact. Over 1,500 people registered as part of the planting project benefiting students in Minnesota, and we were able to help distribute free resources such as compost from The Mulch Store, organic fertilizer from JavaCycle, tool sharing, volunteer time and several shout-outs on social media for amazing jobs well done!

Minnesota students are enjoying hands-on environmental education thanks to the committed teachers who create unique learning opportunities in the garden and beyond, and USGBC Minnesota is honored to support them. 

See all the schools that participated

Educate for Environmental and Sustainability Literacy

Back to all Project Ideas / Educate for Environmental and Sustainability Literacy

While we can draw upon experiences of the past to help us solve the problems of today and tomorrow, the reality is that the solutions may not yet exist. All people will need to learn their way towards a sustainable human future. Education is therefore central to a sustainable future.

Assess Indoor Air

Back to all Project Ideas / Assess Indoor Air

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, where pollutant levels can be from 2-100 times higher than outdoors. And the American Lung Association reports that asthma, which can be triggered by these pollutants, affects the lives of over 7 million children under 18 in the U.S. and accounted for 14.4 million lost schools days in 2008. Help improve air quality at a school near you. 

Clear Out The Clutter

Back to all Project Ideas / Clear Out The Clutter

We don’t always think about it, but dust comes from our clothes, our skin, and various other items we use during the day. It also, importantly, contains dust mites and cockroach dander (yes, it’s true!) that can be very harmful to breathe, especially to kids with asthma or other respiratory problems.

Train Custodians on Green Cleaning

Back to all Project Ideas / Train Custodians on Green Cleaning

Green cleaning protects health and promotes better learning environments, reducing environmental hazards that negatively affect childhood growth and development. Training custodians on effective cleaning processes is essential for helping schools keep kids healthy, in school, and achieving at their highest potential.