Green Schools Initiative (GSI) – one of our Environment Circle grantees – is making great strides in its program to expand outreach and inspire parents to become green champions at their children's schools. The nonprofit was founded in 2004 by parent-environmentalists who were shocked by how un-environmental their kids' schools were. Since then, Green Schools Initiative has mobilized thousands of teachers, students, and parents to improve the environmental health and ecological sustainability of schools in the U.S.
January 2011 marks a major milestone in the GSI/Full Circle Fund partnership: the launch of the online Green Schools Parent Toolkit and the “What’s Your Green Dream School?” contest. Starting with an engaging 3-minute video, the toolkit has six quick and easy steps designed to help busy parents become advocates for reducing the environmental footprint of their child’s school including:
How to form a Green Team
How teachers and students can conduct a fun, hands-on, environmental audit of their school
How parents can green their own habits – including greening PTA events and fundraising activities, packing a waste-free lunch, carpooling to school, buying environmentally-friendly supplies, and eating healthy food.
To drive traffic to the new Parent Toolkit, Full Circle Fund's project team and GSI have been planning and promoting the “What’s Your Green Dream School?” contest to California schools. Instead of rewarding past achievements, this contest is designed to support schools that are just getting started and provide an incentive for parents to start a Green Team at their school.
GSI's goal is to catalyze the start of 25 new Green Teams through the contest and from those, select two winning schools that will receive in-depth training and support to make their green dreams come true. Only schools that have newly-formed Green Teams – as of September 2010 or later – are eligible to apply. The two winning schools' PTAs will receive a $500 cash award for the school's Green Team plus the training and support from Green Schools Initiative, and a basket of green supplies and services donated by CleanWell, Seventh Generation, and New Leaf Paper/Top Flight.
Full Circle Fund's Team has been instrumental in the success of launching this program by developing the video script, advising on the toolkit and contest content, providing key insights into what tools would be most useful to teachers and parents, and making important connections for the donated green supplies for the contest prizes. The team even created GSI's new tag line: Healthy Kids, Better Future. After the launch, team members will work on creating a sustainable growth plan for the organization.
Of course, a key component in successful partnerships is great leadership, and Executive Director Deborah Moore is an inspiring social innovator and tireless environmental advocate. She recently received the Pioneer Award, presented at the California Green Schools Summit in Pasadena in December 2010.
You can help by spreading the word about the toolkit and the contest to your network! If you are interested in learning more about Full Circle Fund’s involvement with Green Schools Initiative, don’t hesitate to speak to one of the project team members at the next Environment Circle meeting: Anne Boyd Rabkin, Sienna Rogers, Elizabeth Teasdale, Kristin Gilliss, Radha Blackman, Meredith Thomas, Victoria Lavi, Derrick Wong and Marc Thibault.