Nairobi schools continue to grow from Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ann Wahinya is the program coordinator for the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) program, which is implemented by Global Communities in the informal settlements of Nairobi. Global Communities is an international development organization working with communities around the world to bring about sustainable changes that improve the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable. 

For the past three years, Global Communities’ Kenya office has supported better learning environments in support of the Global Coalition for the Center for Green Schools' Green Apple Day of Service (GADOS). GADOS is a global movement promoting sustainable schools that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices. In October 2015, Global Communities supported three nonformal primary schools in Majengo, one of the oldest and most marginalized informal settlements in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Nearly three months later, the schools continue to harvest the benefits of the event. 

The Global Communities team supported Child Survival Primary School, Undugu Basic Education School and St. John’s Community Primary School. In addition to raising money to help with water, sanitation and other infrastructure improvements to create more conducive learning environments, staff from Global Communities also met with teachers and students to identify critical improvements. 

Fixing critical needs

Child Survival’s floors were potholed, making seating arrangements difficult, and there was only one functional toilet for its 260 students. The head teacher shared that most girls would miss school during their menstrual cycle, because they had experienced fights and bullying from other students. At Undugu, which has 200 students, the classroom partitions were broken and walls were unpainted, making the rooms loud and dark. 

Through Global Communities’ teamwork, Child Survival Primary School now has 12 functional toilets, which has helped improve female students' confidence and reduce absenteeism. The floors in three lower primary classrooms were also leveled, promoting better seating arrangements and hygiene. One of the class teachers commented, “Since the classroom floors were renovated, the students seem more excited to come to class. We just re-opened school…and were able to clean the classrooms with water, which is a major achievement for us.”

At Undugu Community School, the team painted the classroom walls. The local government administrative unit for Majengo was inspired by the effort and joined in to paint the outer walls, toilets and an additional classroom. In addition, both Undugu and St. John’s schools received recycling bins, which are helping children learn to sort different types of waste. St. John’s is using the organic matter as fertilizer for the school garden, and the plastics are being sold to local artisans to support the school’s feeding program. Local artisans also used recycled materials, broken glass and tiles to make art for St. John’s walls, including an apple mosaic made of recycled glass in honor of GADOS. 

Celebrating teamwork

The event culminated in a ceremony at St. John’s, bringing together over 500 students, teachers, community volunteers, Global Communities staff, partner organizations and representatives from the Ministry of Education, as well as sub-county and local government. The day started with a visit to Child Survival, followed by a procession led by the school’s Boy Scouts and Girl Guides to St. John’s.

Students, teachers and volunteers planted trees to provide more shade in the schoolyard and participated in demonstrations on waste management. Students and community youth groups also provided entertainment, which delivered messages on waste management and environmental safety. The Ministry of Education’s Principal Education Officer, Mwaura Wanjohi, was a guest of honor at the event. In his speech, he recognized the continuous effort of Global Communities, and noted school infrastructure as one of the areas that the government and development partners need to focus on. 

GADOS 2015 proved that small initiatives have a huge impact. In making small but significant changes to the schools, Global Communities highlighted the challenges facing nonformal schools and their infrastructure needs. Through partnerships developed and seeds planted, GADOS continues to grow and to support students and teachers through healthier, safer and productive spaces to learn.

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Join Green Apple at Greenbuild 2015

Published on: 
Monday, November 16, 2015
Josh Lasky

At Greenbuild 2015, you'll want to stop by the Green Apple booth (#2251). Our booth will feature lots of exciting programming, including book signings with authors and green schools champions, meet-and-greets with our Green Apple partners and the chance to see the winning student submissions of USGBC North Carolina’s Natural Talent Design Competition. We’ll also be showing photos and videos from Green Apple Day of Service projects that took place all over the world this past year.

Visit the Green Apple booth at any time to discover more about our work and learn how to engage with a school in your community. Pick up a Green Apple pin and a special “Good Apple” ribbon to attach to your Greenbuild badge to show your support for healthy, safe and efficient schools. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @mygreenschools and #GreenAppleDay.

Schedule of activities at the Green Apple booth (#2251)

Wednesday, November 18
10:30-11:30 am Book Signing: Emily Scofield, author of Coco & Dean: Explorers of the World and Executive Director of USGBC-North Carolina
11:30 am-1:00 pm Meet and Greet: Winning student team of the USGBC-NC Natural Talent Design Competition from Forsyth Technical Community College
1:00-2:00 pm Book Signing: Penny Bonda and Summer Minchew, authors of Sustainable Commercial Interiors, Second Edition
2:00-2:30 pm Press Conference: Green schools public opinion research with Rachel Gutter, Senior Vice President of Knowledge and Director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, and Bill Gagnon, Vice President of Marketing at Excel Dryer, Inc., a Green Apple Partner
2:30-3:00 pm Meet and Greet: Rachel Gutter, Senior Vice President of Knowledge and Director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC
4:30-5:00 pm Learn About LEED Lab, a conversation with Jaime Van Mourik, Director of Higher Education at USGBC
Thursday, November 19
10:30-11:00 am Meet and Greet: Wanda Dunaway, Director of Education and Government Markets Shaw Contract Group, a Green Apple Partner
11:00 am-12:00 pm Book Signing: Annie Donnelly, author of Willow Watts & the Green School Wish and 2014 Best of Green Schools honoree
12:00-12:30 pm Live Demo: Green Schools Activity Map (Beta Version) with Emma Arnold, Data and Research Associate at the Center for Green Schools at USGBC
12:30-2:00 pm Live Demo: Learning Lab, USGBC’s new K-12 curriculum platform, with Jenny Wiedower, K-12 Manager at the Center for Green Schools at USGBC
2:00-3:00 pm Meet and Greet: Faye Gao, Business Development Leader for Education, Energy Focus, Inc., a Green Apple Partner

Green Apple is an initiative of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC that empowers parents, teachers, students, nonprofit organizations and businesses to take action in support of healthy, safe and efficient learning environments. Together, we can send a powerful message to the world that where we learn matters. Get involved at For more information about Green Apple at Greenbuild, please contact Josh Lasky, Green Apple Manager.

Albuquerque students' Green Apple Day of Service booth yields hundreds of energy savings pledges

Published on: 
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Tony Sparks

Students from the Del Norte High School’s Earth Club in Albuquerque, New Mexico, participated in this year’s Green Apple Day of Service. The DNHS Earth Club, sponsored by biology teacher Jim Butscher, partnered with the state Energy Conservation & Management Division of the Minerals & Natural Resources Department at their display at the opening weekend of the 2015 New Mexico State Fair.

The students had hundreds of fair-goers sign Energy Pledges asking for a commitment to reduce their energy use, and they demonstrated an energy bicycle that produced electricity through pedaling. The bike created energy that provided electricity to light a box comparing incandescent, CFL, and LED light bulbs. This demonstrated kinetically that LED light bulbs are a good choice to reduce energy costs. 

This experience not only provided an opportunity for these students to share their knowledge of energy conservation and efficiency, but it also developed their public speaking and leadership skills while supporting the District’s Water and Energy Conservation Program. The Earth Club has been conducting a lighting audit of their school, as well as designing a butterfly garden that will be planted in the fall.

The Albuquerque Public Schools Water and Energy Conservation program is looking for schools, teachers and students to organize Energy Teams. For more information, email Robert Lazar.

Excel Dryer has a hand in the Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Rachel Gutter

On September 21, I contributed a piece to the Excel Dryer blog about the company's ongoing commitment to the Green Apple Day of Service. You can read a portion of my piece below, and see the piece in its entirety here.

As students return to the classroom and teachers organize their lessons for the next school year, volunteers all over the world are diligently preparing for the 2015 Green Apple Day of Service on September 26, and if the past is any indication, this one will be the best one yet. Last year’s Day of Service included more than 3,800 events, projects and commitments that took place in 43 countries with the help of 306,000 volunteers. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers and Green Apple partners, we’re on track to grow our impact this year.

One original Seed Sponsor of the Green Apple program since its inception, Excel Dryer, has long been a supporter of our efforts to provide healthier and more efficient learning environments on a local, national and global scale. A partner truly committed to the green schools movement, Excel Dryer has organized Day of Service projects around the United States and developed a Green Apple-branded hand dryer line, a portion of the proceeds of which goes to support Center for Green Schools’ initiatives.

For the last three years, Excel Dryer employees have organized Day of Service events from coast to coast with projects within their home state of Massachusetts, at Boston Public Schools and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District and Sacramento Unified School District in California. This year, Excel Dryer is once again helping us raise awareness for the importance of green and sustainable school environments by organizing Day of Service projects at Stefanik Memorial School in Chicopee, Massachusetts and Norwin Learning Center in Irwin, Pennsylvania.

Read more on the Excel Dryer blog.

Celebrating Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Monday, September 28, 2015
Rachel Gutter

It's astounding to consider that in just four short years, Green Apple Day of Service has grown from the tiny seed of an idea to a truly global initiative. Since 2012, Green Apple Day of Service has inspired more than 10,000 school improvement projects, commitments and events in 72 countries and all 50 U.S. states, engaging more than 700,000 volunteers. Collectively, your efforts have impacted more than 7 million students worldwide.

We have work yet to do—so many schools need our help. I feel optimistic about our future. Each one of our beloved volunteers and each one of their commitments to improving our schools gives me hope. This year's outpouring of action from a global community of champions demonstrates that together we're moving in the right direction, toward healthy, safe and efficient schools. Our work on Green Apple Day of Service generates an incredible outcome, beyond the schools' walls and across neighborhoods and communities. Standing together with parents, teachers, students and dedicated volunteers, we broadcast our message to the world that where our children learn matters.

With gratitude,

Rachel Gutter

Director, Center for Green Schools

Volunteers across the globe participate in USGBC’s Green Apple Day of Service, school enhancements benefit millions of students

Published on: 
Monday, September 28, 2015
Aline Peterson

More than 4,600 projects, events and commitments with hundreds of thousands of volunteers globally, 
make environmental improvements in schools and communities

Washington, DC – (Sept. 28, 2015) – Volunteers came together in schools and communities across the globe on Saturday, September 26 for the Green Apple Day of Service, an initiative of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. Students, teachers, parents, elected officials, organizations and companies participated in 4,682 projects across all 50 states and in 31 countries throughout the world to enhance the environments of their local schools.

The annual Green Apple Day of Service, now in its fourth year, presents an opportunity for communities to make a real difference in schools, helping to make improvements with the goal of creating healthier, safer, cost-efficient and productive learning places. The sustainability projects range from infrastructure to operations, while moving schools toward meaningful cost savings over time.

Since 2012, the Green Apple Day of Service has mobilized more than 675,000 volunteers in more than 10,000 projects, taking place in 73 countries. Committed to healthy, safe and efficient learning places, these volunteers have impacted the learning environments of over seven million students. 

“At the Center for Green Schools, we are proud of the dedication, passion and imagination of the committed volunteers who came together to host Green Apple Day of Service projects this year,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “For the past four years, thousands of community leaders have participated in the Day of Service, affirming that maintaining safe, healthy and sustainable schools for our children remains a priority. The Green Apple Day of Service is more than a service learning opportunity, more than a grassroots movement, more than a nod to the importance of sustainability; it is a declaration by thousands of people that where we learn matters.”

Many schools today are facing obstacles that stand in the way of promoting health and wellness in classrooms and common spaces. Inefficient, unhealthy and risky infrastructure contributes to problems as pervasive and diverse as childhood asthma to headaches to ongoing concentration issues. The Green Apple Day of Service presents an opportunity to address many of these issues and to transform our schools into healthy, vibrant places to live, learn, work and play while teaching valuable lessons and cultivating the next generation of global sustainability leaders.

This year’s Day of Service featured a flagship event in Washington, D.C., where community members, teachers, school administrators, parents and students came together with USGBC staff to make significant improvements to the grounds of Leckie Elementary, a preK-6 school in the southwest quadrant of the city, very near to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a 905-acre military installment for both active duty Navy and Air Force personnel where Leckie draws between 30 and 40 percent of its students.

The school, which expanded this year to include sixth grade, is utilizing modular classrooms to accommodate the additional students. Projects undertaken by Day of Service volunteers at the event included construction of 17 new planter boxes to place around the exterior of the modular addition, updating existing planter boxes and construction of an insect habitat. Students were invited to engage in an art project, illustrating what “green” means to them. Their artwork will be displayed at the 2015 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the world’s largest green building conference, taking place Nov. 18-20 at the Washington Convention Center.

Cities and communities across the country and around the world were active in Green Apple service events: In Florida, at Wynnebrook Elementary School in West Palm Beach, students and their families participated in a campus clean up and beautification day. They added pollinator friendly plants to existing landscaping, and evaluated the site for possible future outdoor classroom opportunities.

In California, at the Leonardo da Vinci School in Sacramento, the community gathered together to seal the school’s aquaponic stations and to prepare existing garden beds for fall planting. The school also displayed work by local fine artist Milton Bowen highlighting themes of sustainability.

In Georgia, Agnes Scott College students combined the Green Apple Day with a hundred-year-old tradition known as Black Cat. During this week-long campus festival students will work with a local farm that provides farmland for refugees in Atlanta, showing how campus tradition and sustainability go hand in hand.

In India, two teenagers are leading an effort to reach more than 200 schools across the country, challenging students and teachers to form project teams and plan local events. By driving participation through social media, and collecting photos and short essays, they have already received more than 100 commitments across India. 

For more information on the Green Apple Day of Service, please visit


What the Green Apple Day of Service means to USGBC staff

Published on: 
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Aline Althen

With just one more day to go until the fourth annual Green Apple Day of Service, we decided it would be good to reflect, personally, on what this occasion and movement has come to mean to us as staff members of USGBC.

The first person to volunteer her thoughts was Suzi Warren. Suzi is a Community Advancement Associate with USGBC’s National Capital Region and has a special history with the Green Apple Day of Service, having worked as a capacity organizer for the 2014 Day of Service. Here’s what she had to say:

The Center for Green Schools, the entity behind the Green Apple Day of Service, plans a service day of their own each year, and last year I had the privilege of attending this event. At the time, I was working for The Center doing outreach across the United States, encouraging volunteers to participate in this global movement. I had spent hours on the phone with strangers across the country explaining the event to those unfamiliar with it and encouraging them to get involved by planning an event of their own. I became intimately familiar with the Green Apple Day of Service before I had even attended an event of my own. 

When September 27, 2014 finally came around, I couldn’t believe that all the work we had done all summer was finally accumulating in a single day of service. I was excited to celebrate this occasion at our own service project and ready for the reward of all the hard work that had gone into planning not just this event, but the events all over the country. After several hours of planting, painting and workshops with local students, our team finally wrapped up the 2014 season of Green Apple Day of Service knowing we had made a difference in Washington, DC and around the world.  

It was at this point in the day when it hit me that all of the hard work we poured into Tubman Elementary School to make it a better, healthier and safer place for the students to work and play was not the full extent of the impact that day. Projects just like ours, and projects very unlike ours, had taken place all over the world. The magnitude of the impact of being part of a global movement had taken me by surprise and I truly felt it. Something about knowing you participated in a day that reached thousands of students across the globe really brings on those warm and fuzzy feelings. 

I have since transitioned to work for the USGBC National Capital Region and am on the other side of the table this year, ensuring NCR is represented on the map with service projects of our own. I feel a sense of ownership and pride knowing our amazing volunteers are working tirelessly to create several impactful Green Apple Day of Service projects. I am also mentoring a local Girl Scout who is executing a Green Apple Day of Service project in her community, through the Bringing Up Girls program. It is so inspiring to see the hope in her eyes and see her eagerness to make a difference formulate in a tangible service project.

Green Apple Day of Service has meant many things to me through my various forms of involvement, and each of them have made me feel closer to my community. There is a real sense of pride in knowing you are part of a larger movement all coming together on one day to really impact our future—our students. 

Next, Whitney Terrill, Credentialing Specialist with our LEED team, offered up her thoughts on the Green Apple Day of Service:

Green Apple Day of Service is such a great opportunity to give to our schools—some of the most inspirational and transformative institutions in our societies. As a USGBC staff person, this annual day of service truly brings me so much fulfillment and joy. I find it so grounded in USGBC’s mission—the part that is really about transforming generations of people.

Roger Platt, President of USGBC, also shared his feelings on the Green Apple Day of Service:

For me, Green Apple Day of Service has been personal. Whether I was dumpster diving at the middle school near my own home in Washington to help with the auditing of the recycling program, planting trees at a school on Capitol Hill or meeting new friends of the earth from as close as DC and as far away as West Africa, I felt rooted to my home. And that is what Green Schools are all about: a place near home that makes room for learning and also for God’s gift of nature in all its fragile beauty.  

Finally, I’ll add my own thoughts on the Day of Service. I started working for USGBC just about one year ago, a few days prior to the 2014 Green Apple Day of Service. I participated in the flagship event at Tubman Elementary School, painting walls and relocating plants. For me, it was eye-opening to see so many of my new colleagues coming together on a weekend to really practice what they preach. While literally getting their hands dirty for the cause, there was a sense of energy and joy that was palpable. Even though I was brand-new, I felt part of a community of caring individuals.

At its heart, I think that is what the Green Apple Day of Service is all about: cultivating community and a sense of shared responsibility, accomplishment, investment and improvement. It’s been a year and I feel truly privileged to continue to be a part of this movement, to make thousands of schools better, brighter, healthier and happier places to live, learn, work and play. Because of my hands-on experience with the Green Apple Day of Service, I have seen for myself and truly believe that where we learn matters.

What if? Inspiration for service learning opportunities

Published on: 
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Steph Leonard

During the economic downturn, as business slowed, one company in Minnesota looked around and asked “what if?”

What if, in the face of uncertainty, we plant a garden within the abundance of green space at our corporate headquarters and donate the food to those in need in our community? Retail Construction Services, Inc. put that question into action and the Giving Garden was planted in 2009. RCS made their first donation of food to Valley Outreach Food Shelf in Stillwater, MN that July. Now a thriving part of their organization, the Giving Garden provides an opportunity for employees to give back, get fresh air, and connect with each other ultimately boosting employee satisfaction, and in turn, output - giving an unexpected jolt to business.

Beaming from the success of the garden, RCS Staff asked themselves how do we do more? The Giving Garden is now used as a full circle teaching tool; involving the children from across the St. Croix Valley. In the garden, kids learn about gardening and make a connection to our world by learning about where their food comes from, its impact on everything from fossil fuels to the collapse of the honey bee. Children learn valuable lessons about water conservation, food storage, harvesting seeds, and composting.  Above all, they experience first-hand the spirit of giving and community service. To date, the Giving Garden has donated almost 17,000 pounds of food and added a teaching kitchen to Valley Outreach Food Shelf to help community members have access to a facility for cooking lessons that promote the use of fresh produce

Impassioned by the students they’ve met while working in the garden RCS is continuing to grow the movement. “Every child has the right to know where their food comes from and how to grow it. Teach a man to fish… How about teach a child to garden?” says Joni Fletty, COO/VP Operations at RCS.

Joni remembers a day several years ago, when a struggling student from a local alternative school didn’t have any interest in stepping over the garden fence to join his classmates. He stayed just beyond the gardens edge, stoic. For several weeks he remained on the sidelines.  More and more the other kids opened up in the garden and began joking and sharing stories while they worked. One day a group of students were joking around about different foods, it sparked his attention, and soon he stepped over the fence and was unwittingly harvesting and sharing laughs alongside his classmates. From that day on he was one of the garden’s hardest workers, mentoring other younger students, and even calling Joni to ask to harvest for extra credit one day. Joni decided to join in him the garden that day. They worked and talked as they harvested. He told Joni that working in the garden had made a big difference in his life. A few years later, Joni received an update on this young man, and learned that he’s thriving.

Wanting to reach more students with hands-on learning and to inspire others, RCS has not only implemented youth lessons in the garden three days a week during the summer, but has partnered with USGBC-MN for the 2015 Green Apple Day of Service. Together they’re asking others - what if? What if local companies joined the effort and helped host a series of events featuring youth in service to our earth? What would the students learn from the hands-on service? What would the companies gain from the community involvement? What if you participated? What kind of difference could you make? 

We’re making it easy to get involved. Visit USGBC-MN’s Green Apple Day of Service page to learn how you can sponsor a gardening lesson for local students. 

Register your Green Apple Day of Service project now!