Your Green Apple project guide

Nearly a million volunteers in 80 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.
In order to access funding through and be nominated for a Green Apple Award, create a user account and register your project or projects by March 15, 2019. 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 details? Estimate your impacts and details, and you can update the project later.
Join the community of project leaders.
Join the Green Apple Day of Service Discussion. After you register your Green Apple project, you will be invited to join the Green Apple Day of Service Facebook Group to share and request resources to help plan your project and celebrate what your school has been able to accomplish.
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, 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 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 donate $200 to help reach your goals. Check out our additional fundraising tips and strategies.
Gather materials and resources.
Outside of your 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. Display your commitment to sustainability around the school with these Classroom Posters.
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.
Dress the part.
Outfit your volunteers on Green Apple Day of Service with our exclusive, organic cotton T-shirts, and thank them for their contributions with Green Apple tote bags, water bottles and pins. Shop Green Apple Day of Service merchandise.

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, 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 to broadcast the impact to your school community and for your project to be shared on the Center for Green Schools Twitter and Facebook. You can also upload photos to your project web page by visiting your account, or you can send your photos directly to us at

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. Your project is your Green Apple Awards nomination, so be sure to be include pictures, event details, and the project impact.
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
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.

Our mission

With more than 700 million students worldwide and one-eighth of the world's population entering a K-12 school building each day, there's no questioning the enormity and urgency of the task before us.

How we educate and take care of our schools sends a tangible signal of a community's willingness to provide a strong education to all its students. Many of our schools simply send the wrong message: stuffy, poorly lit, overcrowded and sometimes toxic environments unfit for learning.

Poor air quality leads to more colds, flus and asthma attacks. Deficient ventilation makes it difficult to focus and stay alert; inadequate lighting can cause headaches and disrupt sleep cycles; and bad acoustics render kids unable to hear lessons.

When we educate a child, we choose the future we hope he or she creates. We choose a sustainable future, and so we must educate students to prepare them to create it — in a place that inspires them. Learn more about the state of America's K-12 facilities »

Our kids deserve better. Where they learn matters.

Green Apple gives schools, individuals, companies and organizations the opportunity to transform all our schools into greener, healthier places to learn.

Interested in participating in the 2018-19 school year?

Log in to register your project


What is Green Apple Day of Service?
Green Apple Day of Service is a unique moment to join schools across the world to celebrate the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of leaders in sustainability. A school’s event is an opportunity to give students hands-on experience with sustainability, strengthening civic leadership, environmental literacy, and project management skills. Since it began in 2012, the Day of Service has inspired almost a million people in 80 countries to act in support of sustainability at their schools.
What kind of projects can I do for Green Apple Day of Service?
Your project should make measurable change on one or more of the three pillars of a green school: environmental impact, health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability literacy. To be a Green Apple Day of Service project, it should make this impact at a school in a way that directly and positively affects the students. Our Project Ideas page and the “99 Project Ideas” resource can help you think through what might work best for your school community.
When should I do my project?
Projects register at the start of the school year and then can happen any time August 2018 through June 2019. Projects can only receive official support with funding, volunteers, and other resources if they are registered by March 15, 2019. We encourage schools to think about the right time for a day of action at your campus and build on existing efforts or momentum.
We already have a school service day. What’s different about Green Apple Day of Service?

Green Apple Day of Service is unique for three reasons: its scale, its goals, and the resources it offers to schools.

The Day of Service involves tens of thousands of volunteers each year in dozens of countries around the world. You and your school can be part of something that has big impact beyond your campus.

The goals of the day are unique: bringing sustainability action and a focus on K-12 education together in one day. The Day of Service celebrates action around the globe to both impact the environment at a school campus and teach students important lessons about sustainability. A regular school service day can be a Green Apple Day of Service if it is addressing these goals.

Finally, the Day of Service is special because it gives schools direct support for their days of action. If you register your project through, you can receive planning support, funding and volunteers that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you.

How can I get funding for my Day of Service project?
Depending on your project, you may need funding for materials, equipment, expertise, and professional support. Members of your community and/or local businesses are often willing to help. We've outlined several options in our Fundraising Tips resource. For materials and supplies, these tips include registering your project on the crowd funding platform During Green Apple Day of Service project registration, which takes place on your account page, you'll find instructions for how to link your page to your Day of Service project. When the two are linked, your project qualifies for limited funds from Green Apple Day of Service. These mini grants are given on a first come, first served basis, up to $200 per project. Please note that accounts are only available to educators in public and charter schools in the U.S. Find out more on our Fundraising page and on
How can I get volunteers for my Day of Service project?
Most Green Apple Day of Service projects recruit volunteers from local booster clubs, parent groups, professional associations, and service-oriented local clubs. If you need additional help, USGBC's local staff may be able to recruit volunteer professionals with skill sets to help you with sustainability at your school. When you register your project, the registration page will ask you if you would like help from USGBC in locating volunteers—simply check off the box indicating your interest, and we will reach out.
My company wants to get involved in Green Apple Day of Service. How do we start?
The Center for Green Schools is asking companies and organizations to join us in supporting schools for Green Apple Day of Service by funding scholarship packages for specific communities or for projects with a specific sustainability topic. Scholarship packages start at $5,000 and enable an organization to: (1) support schools and teachers by funding service day materials, (2) inspire increased school participation through incentives for action, and (3) support our effort to spread the word about Green Apple Day of Service through a targeted communications campaign. Please contact us at if you are interested in learning more.

About the Center for Green Schools

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization behind Green Apple Day of Service, was founded to ensure green schools for every child in this generation. At the Center, we believe that all students deserve the opportunity to attend schools that sustain the world they live in, enhance their health and well-being and prepare them for 21st century careers. Learn more »


United Technologies
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About the Green Apple Day of Service