Events and Competitions

2020 Green Schools Conference and Expo

The tenth annual Green Schools Conference and Expo will be held at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon, March 2 – 4, 2020. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from and network with educational leaders, green building professionals, nonprofit partners, and others who are passionate about the future of green schools.

Registration for the conference is now open. Both full and daily passes are available. Register before December 20, 2019 to save with early bird rates. Special room discounts are also available at the Hilton Portland Downtown until February 17, 2020. Conference programming will be announced in October 2019.

2019 Drawdown Learn Conference: What Schools and Communities Can Do About Climate Change

October 18 – 20, 2019

Rhinebeck, New York

Join the Omega Center for Sustainable Living and partner organizations for this weekend conference to cultivate and strengthen relationships; share information, resources, and curriculum ideas; learn with and from young leaders; get inspired; and develop the support needed to reverse global warming. Public registration is limited. Cost is $345 and does not include accommodations.

2019 Place-Based Education Conference

Hosted by the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, this national, three-day conference is designed to inspire and support a community of educators around the power of place-based learning. The 2019 conference will take place November 7 – 9, 2019 in Flint, Michigan and will focus on the theme of Building Strong and Transformative Communities Together.

Association for Learning Environments LearningSCAPES 2019

LearningSCAPES is the conference for those who plan, design, equip, furnish, and maintain places where students learn. This year’s conference will be held October 4 – 6 in Anaheim, California. Join your colleagues for groundbreaking educational sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and a showcase of state-of-the-art tools that move learning into the future.

Visit the website to register and learn more about conference programming, speakers, special events, and travel.

Celebrate National Farm to School Month in October

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools, food, and local farmers! Farm to school enriches the connections communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings. Farm to school is reaching millions of students in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. This October, get involved, be inspired, and take action to advance farm to school in your community and across the country. Learn more about National Farm to School Month, find ways to get involved, and explore resources for celebrating by visiting the National Farm to School Network’s website at

Chesapeake Region Greening School Food Forum and Festival

November 8, 2019

8:30am – 4:30pm

Thomas Edison High School of Technology, Silver Spring, Maryland

The fourth in a series of regional forums around the country, this dynamic event focuses on healthy, climate-friendly school food service. During the forum, participants will have opportunities to cultivate new relationships and learn from school food leaders across the region about how they have employed cost-effective approaches to implement healthy, plant-forward menus, reduce food waste, and increase student participation and engagement. The event also includes a festival where students and their families can cook with a professional chef, attend health and wellness workshops, and sample creations from chef-led student participants. The festival will feature local producers who will be able to network and offer product samples to regional food service directors and families.

EDspaces 2019

EDspaces is the gathering place for architects, dealers, preK-12 schools, colleges and universities, independent manufacturers representatives, exhibitors, and corporations to learn about trends and experience the latest products and services to enhance student learning. This year’s conference will be held October 23 – 25 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Future City Competition

Future City is a project-based learning program where sixth- through eighth-grade students image, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue. The 2019 – 2020 theme is Clean Water: Tap into Tomorrow. Teams will choose a threat to their city’s water supply and design a resilient system to maintain a reliable supply of clean drinking water.

Participants complete five deliverables: a virtual city design using SimCity; a 1,500-word essay; a scale model; a project plan; and a presentation to judges at Regional Competitions in January 2020. Regional winners represent their region at the Finals in Washington D.C. in February 2020.

Registration for the 2019 – 2020 competition closes on October 31, 2019.

Girls Who Code Informational Webinars

Girls Who Code is leading the movement to close the gender gap in technology by introducing girls to computer science and coding. One way the organization does this is through after school clubs for girls in grades 3 – 5 and grades 6 – 12. If you are interested in starting a club at your school, you can attend one of several Girls Who Code Informational Webinars that are held each month. Register here to attend a webinar and apply for a free club at your school.

Upcoming webinar dates and times include:

Tuesday, October 1st: 11:00 – 11:30AM ET

Thursday, October 10th: 12:00 – 12:30PM ET

Wednesday, October 16th: 1:00 – 1:30PM ET

Monday, October 21st: 6:00 – 6:30PM ET

Tuesday, October 29th: 3:00 – 3:30PM ET

Wednesday, November 6th: 4:00 – 4:30PM ET

Tuesday, November 12th: 7:00 – 7:30PM ET

Thursday, November 21st: 10:00 – 10:30AM ET

Tuesday, November 26th: 11:00am – 11:30AM ET

Green Clean Schools ISSA/INTERCLEAN Educational Facilities Track

November 18 – 19, 2019

Las Vegas, Nevada

This two-day program provides facility directors at schools and universities and their teams with the knowledge and tools necessary to support healthier, safer cleaning programs that promote learning. Attendees will participate in immersive, interactive workshops and panel discussions followed by networking opportunities and exclusive access to ISSA’s New Attendee Breakfast and trade show floor orientation session.

National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be held April 20 – 24, 2020 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event convenes stakeholders engaged in farm to cafeteria activities who are working to source local food and promote a culture of food and agricultural literacy across the country.

Submit a proposal to present at the 2020 conference! The deadline for submissions is October 4, 2019. Click here to learn more.

North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference

Register now for the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)’s 48th Annual Conference, to be held in Lexington, Kentucky from October 15 – 19, 2019. This year’s theme is Educating for a Just and Sustainable Future. NAAEE convenes one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals, designed to promote innovation, networking, learning, and dissemination of best practices. The annual Research Symposium, held in advance of the conference, attracts new and established researchers to examine in-progress environmental education research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners. 

Outdoor Classroom Day 2019

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On this day, thousands of schools around the world take lessons outdoors and prioritize playtime. Over 3.5 million children participated in 2018. This year, Outdoor Classroom Day will be held on November 7, 2019. To participate, visit the website, sign up, and check out the online resources for activities, lesson ideas, and materials to inspire your Outdoor Classroom Day.

Real World Design Challenge

The Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) is an annual competition that provides high school students, grades 9-12, the opportunity to work on real-world engineering challenges in a team environment. Each year, student teams address a challenge that confronts our nation’s leading industries. Students utilize professional engineering software to develop their solutions and generate presentations that convincingly demonstrate the value of their solutions. RWDC provides students with opportunities to apply classroom lessons to the technical problems that are being faced in the workplace.

Registration is open until November 22, 2019. Students on the national winning team will receive $50,000 scholarships from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Safe Routes to School National Conference

Registration is open for the 2019 Safe Routes to School National Conference, to be held at the Hilton Tampa Downtown from November 12 – 14, 2019. Join hundreds of active transportation and public health advocates and practitioners from across the country for valuable networking, sharing best practices, and exploring one of Florida’s most vibrant and active cities.

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest

This nationwide contest challenges public school teachers and students in grades 6 – 12 to apply STEM project-based learning to improve their local communities. Ten finalists will be selected to attend a pitch event to demo their prototypes in front of a live panel of judges in New York City in April 2020. Three national winners will be invited to attend the final event in Washington D.C. in May 2020 and will receive $100,000 in Samsung technology and classroom resources. The deadline to enter is November 13, 2019.

USGBC Colorado Green Schools Summit

The USGBC Green Schools Summit is the Mountain Region’s only conference dedicated to convening green building industry professionals, school decision-makers, educators, and parents to further advance healthy, safe, and sustainable schools. The 2019 summit will take place November 7 – 8 in Arvada, Colorado at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. The summit will address the risks of the looming climate crisis as it relates to students and offer solutions.

Walk to School Day 2019

This year’s National Walk to School Day is October 2, 2019! Join the thousands of communities that are celebrating Walk to School Day by registering your school’s event. Get tips for planning and promoting a Walk to School Day event at your school and see who else is planning an event in your area.

Professional Development and GSNN PD Partner Resources

Biomimicry Institute

The Biomimicry Institute is the world’s leading nonprofit dedicated to innovation inspired by nature. Biomimicry offers an exciting project-based approach that helps teachers blend STEM and environmental education in creative, hands-on lessons students love. The Biomimicry Institute helps educators and organizations bring biomimicry into their teaching by providing curriculum and training, networking opportunities, and content development support. Learn more about our services and visit the online library, AskNature, for the resources and information you need to bring biomimicry into your teaching practice.

Captain Planet Foundation

Captain Planet Foundation supports educators with grants, resources, tools, and models to spark children’s curiosity, cultivate a love of nature, and engage students in science and engineering practices to solve real-world problems. Our programs and materials have co-evolved with education priorities over the years to ensure educators have the tools and strategies to meet their needs in and out of the classroom.

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education works with schools and school districts to help them integrate Education for Sustainability (EfS) into their curriculum. Core services include consulting and leadership development (on-site and off-site); professional development and faculty coaching; curriculum design, assessment, mapping, and alignment; and school and community partnerships. The Cloud Institute holds an annual Summer Design Studio that enables educators, administrators, and program designers to learn how to design and embed EfS into curriculum, assessments, and programs.

Community Works Institute

Community Works Institute (CWI) directly supports K-16 educators and schools in making their local community the focus and context for powerful student learning experiences. CWI’s work with educators is focused on using the local community as the classroom through the lens of place-based service-learning, sustainability, and social justice. CWI particularly emphasizes student voice and reciprocity in its program design work. Since 1995, CWI has provided powerful on-site support and professional development for educators around the globe, including its acclaimed annual Summer Institutes in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. CWI’s Summer Institutes are the longest running professional development events of their kind. CWI also provides resources for educators, including Community Works Journal, a digital magazine for educators.

Upcoming Programming

Early bird and team rates are available for all Institutes. Scholarship support is available on a need basis. Please see CWI’s website for additional information.

The NEXT Institute: From Classroom to Community, Moving Toward Social Justice – An Experiential Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Saturday, October 5, 2019, 8:30am – 4pm

Otis College of Art and Design

Los Angeles, California

The NEXT Institute: From Classroom to Community, Moving Toward Social Justice – An Experiential Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Saturday, November 9, 2019, 8:30am – 4pm

Brooklyn, New York

CWI’s 2020 Institute SOUTH America on Place Based Service-Learning, Sustainability, and Social Justice

January 13 – 17, 2020

Lima, Peru

in partnership with Otis College of Art and Design

CWI’s 2020 Summer EAST Institute on Place Based Service-Learning, Sustainability, and Social Justice

June 22 – 26, 2020

Brooklyn, New York

in partnership with Berkeley Carroll School and Otis College of Art and Design

CWI’s 2020 Summer WEST Institute on Place Based Service-Learning, Sustainability, and Social Justice

July 27 – 31, 2020

Los Angeles, California

in partnership with Otis College of Art and Design


EcoRise’s school-based program empowers youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching sustainability, design innovation, and social entrepreneurship. Our curriculum, classroom grants, ongoing training, and support engages educators and students in meaningful learning experiences. Our program empowers teachers to confidently champion sustainability and innovation in their classrooms, while students cultivate 21st century skills and sustainable living practices.

Facing the Future 

Facing the Future is an international program, based out of Western Washington University, creating tools for educators that equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future. The curriculum is organized around eight sustainability big ideas: Connecting with Nature; Equity and Justice; Health and Resiliency; Interconnectedness; Local to Global; Peace and Collaboration; Respect for Limits; and Universal Responsibility.

Facing the Future curriculum materials and resources are available for K-12 teachers, teachers in colleges of education, and for some community college and undergraduate classes. All materials are developed for teachers, by teachers, with best teaching and learning practices in mind and are aligned with Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and most state standards frameworks.

Green Apple Day of Service

Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies, and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments through local service projects. Check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, and register your project online. Register by December 31, 2019 to be eligible for the 2020 Green Apple Awards.

Green Strides Webinar Series Calendar

The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities with the tools they need to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education. It provides all schools access to the resources that help them move toward the Pillars of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. Sign up for Green Strides Webinar Series email updates to receive information on future webinars.

Learning Lab

A product of the U.S. Green Building Council’s The Center for Green Schools, Learning Lab provides K-12 teachers and school leaders with comprehensive, project- and STEM-based curriculum that encourages student leadership, environmental literacy, and real-world action. Discover best-in-class content, training, and tools. Access their curated catalogue of lesson plans, interactive projects, assessment opportunities, and other multimedia resources in English and Spanish. Lessons are mapped to meet current educational standards and were created by educators, for educators.

Shelburne Farms 

Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization educating for a sustainable future. That means learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and the planet. Its home campus is a 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark. Shelburne Farms’ school programs staff support student learning and educator professional development by offering experiences that inspire deep connections to community and a commitment to a healthy future.

Upcoming Programming

Cultivating Farm to Early Childhood: October Workshop

October 19, 2019

Cultivating Farm to Early Childhood (FTEC) is an opportunity for you — Family Child Care, Head Start, Center-Based, Public Pre-K, and Home Visiting educators — to explore and expand your personal and professional experience related to food and nutrition programming while building and strengthening community connections. You’ll immerse yourself in hands-on, child-centered learning experiences like pickling, taste testing, and wool felting. We’ll align activities with practical discussions for community networking with local farmers and food system experts to build your FTEC knowledge and practices. Learn how FTEC concepts help meet multiple standards across licensing, CACFP, VELS, and STARS by promoting children’s learning, social emotional well-being, healthy eating habits, family engagement, and community building.

Cost $10. Includes snacks, lunch, and materials. Registration is open until Friday October 11, 2019. Learn more and register here.

Strategic Energy Innovations

Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI) is a nonprofit that builds leaders to drive climate solutions. For over 20 years, SEI’s focus has been on building capacity to create sustainable communities through scalable programs and models. Its flagship programs (Energize Schools, Energize Colleges, School of Environmental Leadership, and Climate Corps) integrate climate education, training, and career development. From young students to emerging professionals to communities, SEI programs engage local talent to directly address their community’s sustainability goals by leading projects with measurable environmental, economic, and social benefits.

Upcoming Programming

Teacher Training: Take Action for the Environment
October 15 and 16 @ 8am – 2:15pm
Engage in hands-on learning and access to curriculum on the following topics brought to you by Energize Schools: Carbon Cycle, Watershed Mapping, Biomimicry as a Design Solution, Energy Auditing, Designing a Solar USB Charger, and Participation in an Environmental Innovation Design Challenge. Any high school teacher interested in incorporating environmental literacy activities into their classroom is welcome. This training is a good fit for Science, CTE, or Civics teachers or teachers in an environmental pathway or academy. The training is funded by an environmental literacy grant and will be presented at no cost to high school educators in San Diego or Imperial Counties. 

Susan Santone

Susan Santone is an internationally recognized educator with over 20 years of experience in curriculum reform, educational policy, and sustainability. Through her nonprofit Creative Change Educational Solutions, Susan has led teacher education and curriculum reform initiatives with clients ranging from K-12 districts to universities to the United Nations. Susan offers facilitator training to prepare school and university teams to lead professional development in their own settings; leadership development and strategic communication to advance understanding of sustainability and social justice, and consultation services for schools, universities, and other entities.

Learn more about these services and upcoming events.

Learn more about online courses that Susan has developed in partnership with Kappa Delta Pi: Introduction to Sustainability and Introduction to Social Justice.

Teaching Our Cities Practice Toolkits

Teaching Our Cities, a project of Common Ground, is creating a collection of toolkits that share best practices that are working at partner schools. Toolkits include videos, blog-style reflections, resources, and practice descriptions. Current toolkits cover teaching a sense of place, learning expeditions, green exhibitions, environmental leadership portfolios, and magnet theme days.

Sustainable Food Systems Related Resources

Big Ideas: Linking Food, Culture, Health, and the Environment

This Center for Ecoliteracy resource, developed in partnership with National Geographic, identifies key concepts that help students understand the linkages between the food we eat, the ways that culture shapes our food choices and behaviors, the relationship between food and our health, and the interconnections between our food systems and the environment.

Boulder Valley School District Farm to School Manual

This guide, created by Boulder Valley (Colorado) School District’s School Food Project, provides tips, strategies, and best practices for starting and maintaining a farm to school program.

Boulder Valley School District Garden as a Classroom Manual
This guide, created by Boulder Valley (Colorado) School District’s School Food Project, explores the benefits of gardens, explains how to build a garden team, outlines sustainability best practices, and offers a variety of lesson plans.

Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture

From Amazon.comCarrot City is a collection of ideas, both conceptual and realized, that use design to enable sustainable food production, helping to reintroduce urban agriculture to our cities. Focusing on the need and desire to grow food within the city to supply food from local sources, the contributions of architecture, landscape design, and urban design are explored.

Forty projects demonstrate how the production of food can lead to visually striking and artistically interesting solutions that create community and provide inhabitants with immediate access to fresh, healthful ingredients. The authors show how city planning and architecture that considers food production as a fundamental requirement of design result in more community gardens, greenhouses tucked under raised highways, edible landscapes in front yards in place of resource-devouring lawns, living walls that bring greenery into dense city blocks, and productive green roofs on schools and large apartment blocks that can be tended and harvested by students and residents alike.

Center for EcoLiteracy’s Rethinking School Lunch Guide

The Center for EcoLiteracy’s Rethinking School Lunch Guide provides ideas and strategies for changing school meal programs, promoting health, and increasing ecological understanding. The guide draws on the wisdom and knowledge of leading school nutrition experts and practitioners and lessons from successful programs. It is designed to help make the case for change and discover innovative solutions to the challenges of reinventing school food. The guide even includes a section on procurement and how to obtain fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown produce and products from local and regional sources.

Chef Ann Foundation’s School Food Institute

The School Food Institute gives school food service professionals and childhood nutrition advocates the in-depth training, operational skills, and strategic vision necessary to make school food fresh, healthy, and sustainable. Online courses give you a front row seat in Chef Ann Cooper’s classroom, where you can learn directly from a leader in school food change on how to transition school meal programs to scratch-cooked operations that provide real, healthy food to kids at school every day. From procurement to finance, recipes to marketing, each course helps make nutritious, fresh, sustainable food a reality. All online courses satisfy U.S. Department of Agriculture professional standards and participants can earn School Food Institute Certification.

ChopChopKids Magazine and Teacher Curriculum

ChopChop Kids, the publisher of ChopChop Magazine, was founded in 2010 to inspire and teach children and families to cook real food together. Through its namesake magazine, ChopChop reaches more than two million families annually. The magazine is available in English and Spanish and offers nutritious, great-tasting, ethnically diverse, and inexpensive recipes, as well as interesting and little-known food facts, Q&As, and games. The magazine is distributed to schools to teach students about food, cooking, nutrition, and health. A complementary curriculum has been developed with classroom activities, printables, and lessons in math, science, ELA, and social studies that are aligned to national standards.

Cornell Garden-Based Learning

Cornell Garden-Based Learning provides educators with inspiring, research-based gardening resources and professional development to support engaging, empowering, and relevant learning experiences for children, youth, adults, and communities. Their site offers tools and resources for starting a gardening program as well as lessons, activities, and curricula to support garden-based learning.

Dig In! Standards-Based Nutrition Education from the Ground Up

Explore a world of possibilities in the garden and on your plate using ten inquiry-based lessons that engage fifth- and sixth-graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables.

Discovering Our Food System

Discovering Our Food System is an interdisciplinary, community-based, experiential learning curriculum from Cornell University Cooperative Extension that explores the people and processes that shape our food system. Rooted in the places we live, eat, work, learn, and play, Discovering Our Food System will help youth better understand what the food system means to them, how it affects their community and their health, and ways in which they can influence the food system. This curriculum has been created primarily for educators who work with youth ages 12-18.

The Edible Schoolyard Project

The Edible Schoolyard Project’s mission is to build and share a national edible education curriculum for pre-K through high school. The Project’s website offers an array of curricular resources to empower students of all grade levels with the knowledge and values to make food choices that are healthy for them, their communities, and the environment. All lessons are fully integrated into academic subjects and support content standards, Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards. The website also provides information on training opportunities and programs around the country that are implementing edible education at their schools and in their communities.

FoodSpan: Teaching the Food System from Farm to Fork

FoodSpan is a free, downloadable high school curriculum that highlights critical issues in the food system; stimulates debate about food system topics related to human health, the environment, equity, and animal welfare; and empowers students to be food citizens. It is aligned to national education standards in science, social studies, health, and family and consumer sciences. This curriculum was developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future as an outgrowth of its work to help build a healthier, more equitable, and more resilient food system.

The Food Trust’s Kindergarten Initiative

The Food Trust, a nonprofit based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has developed a toolkit for its Kindergarten Initiative, a program focused on teaching kindergarteners about farm fresh foods through cooking in the classroom and farm field trips.

Food Waste Warrior Toolkit

Developed by the World Wildlife Fund, the Food Waste Warrior Toolkit provides lessons, activities, and resources to help educators create a classroom in their school’s cafeteria and show how what we eat and what we throw away impacts our planet.

Forward Food Food Service Resources

Forward Food is dedicated to growing a healthier, more sustainable food system by placing an emphasis on plant-based foods. Their website provides resources for K-12 schools including recipes, product lists, sample menus, and a toolkit to help schools develop, implement, and market plant-based meal programs. You will also find more information about Meatless Mondays and free training for school districts.

Garden to Cafeteria Toolkit

This toolkit was developed by Slow Food USA and Whole Kids Foundation to help school district food service staff develop their own protocols for safely using school garden produce in cafeteria meals. Its templates and step-by-step process build off the successes and safety protocols of five U.S. school districts.

Got Dirt? Garden Toolkit

Got Dirt? Garden Toolkit was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Nutrition and Physical Activity program to provide simple, step-by-step plans for starting a school, community, or child care garden.

Got Veggies? Curriculum

Got Veggies? is a garden-based nutrition education curriculum that was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Nutrition and Physical Activity program with the goal of getting children to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. The curriculum features seven full lesson plans, a series of shorter garden-based activities, recipes, and tips for cooking and eating from the garden.

Green Bronx Machine

Green Bronx Machine is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building healthy, equitable, and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development. Their school-based model uses urban agriculture, aligned with key school performance indicators, to grow healthy students and healthy schools. The Green Bronx Machine has developed a classroom curriculum that turns any school or community gardening program into an academic and standards-based learning experience. With technology-enabled lesson plans that use food and plant life cycles to teach multiple subjects, students learn critical thinking and problem-solving as they explore, discover, and create their own ecosystem. Visit their website to learn more about the curriculum and the organization’s many projects.

The GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool

This research brief describes the background study that led to the conception of the GREEN Tool and highlights how it can be used to strengthen school gardens. The purpose of the study was to examine which components make up a well-integrated garden in New York City schools and to determine how those components work together. This study resulted in the GREEN Tool, comprised of a Map illustrating how and when to operationalize the 19 components needed to establish, integrate, and sustain a school garden, and a Scorecard with questions on a three-point scale to assess progress on the 19 components. Used together, the Map and Scorecard can help school garden leaders develop and sustain a garden that is well integrated into their school. This brief focuses on the background study and the GREEN Tool Map and includes policy recommendations based on research findings.

Growing Minds Farm to School

Developed by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Growing Minds works with schools in 60 Appalachian counties to help them provide farm to school experiences to their students. Their website includes information about cooking with local food and gardening with students, along with lesson plans, recipes, and a database of children’s books that are appropriate for farm to school lessons.

Guide to Taste Testing Local Foods in Schools

This guide, developed by VT FEED, provides tools and resources to help school nutrition staff, teachers, and farm to school coordinators implement a school taste test program that encourages students to try new foods, integrates local food into school meal programs, and involves students and staff in school food change.

In Defense of Food Curriculum

The In Defense of Food curriculum is a companion to the PBS documentary In Defense of Food, using activities and film clips to give students tools to think critically about food. Students learn why it is important to eat healthfully, investigate how food companies influence their food choices, and create action plans for changing their eating habits. They become motivated to eat real food, and excited to share what they have learned with their family, friends, and community. The curriculum is designed for middle school after-school programs and can be adapted for students from age ten through adulthood in a wide range of settings.


KidsGardening has been a leader in the school gardening movement since 1982. The organization aims to inspire, support, and connect educators with resources that help them get students outdoors learning in school gardens and connecting to nature. Resources found on the website include webinars, lesson plans, gardening activities and guides, and how-to’s for designing and sustaining garden programs.

Life Lab

Life Lab is a national leader in the garden-based learning movement, with over 35 years of experience working with young people in gardens. Through workshops and consultations, Life Lab provides educators across the country with the inspiration and information necessary to engage young people in gardens and on farms. Their workshops and award-winning publications are go-to resources for educators and families. Life Lab’s Garden Classroom educational center in Santa Cruz, California and its Blooming Classroom garden in Watsonville, California promote experiential learning for people of all ages through field trips, children’s camps, and teacher workshops. Learn more about Life Lab’s educator resources, including curriculum and activity guides, professional development opportunities, and school garden resources.

The Lunch Box

A program of the Chef Ann Foundation, the Lunch Box provides school district administrators, food service directors, and their teams with best practices, tools, and resources to help with menu creation, financial management, procurement, marketing, and engagement strategies, all to ensure every student has access to healthy, nutritious, and delicious food every day. Visit their website for free access to scalable and downloadable recipes, U.S. Department of Agriculture compliant menu cycles, procurement tools, financial calculators, training tools, and more.

National Farm to School Network

National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is an information, advocacy, and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agricultural education into school systems. NFSN has a resource database with hundreds of resources available, including NFSN publications and resources created by other organizations. These resources are searchable by setting (K-12 schools, On the Farm, etc.) as well as by topic (school gardens, procurement, fundraising, etc.).


Nourish is an educational initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food, health, and sustainability. A program of the nonprofit Worldlink, Nourish combines PBS television, curriculum resources, web content, short films, and professional learning. Visit the website to download the Nourish Curriculum Guide, browse a collection of short videos and food system tools, and read about how educators and schools are using Nourish with their students.

Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs

This U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service guide showcases the many ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. It also provides information on what local means and where to find local foods.

Scaling up Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food: Strategies for Success

Friends of the Earth’s report—Scaling Up Healthy, Climate-Friendly School Food: Strategies for Success––spotlights a growing movement of pioneering school districts using their massive purchasing power to provide plant-forward, climate-friendly food that is healthier for students and the planet. This report, which includes four detailed case studies, is based on lessons learned from 33 interviews with school food professionals. It documents specific climate benefits of menu shifts and provides valuable resources, detailed strategies, examples, and best practices from 18 school districts. The report also points to major policy and structural barriers and highlights policy actions that can help flip institutional incentives from an emphasis on highly processed, industrial animal products to healthy, fresh, climate-friendly, plant-forward meals.

Sea to School: A Guide for School Cafeterias and Classrooms

This guide explores the emerging “sea to school” movement in which K-12 schools are sourcing locally and promoting seafood caught in regional waters. These schools are incorporating locally caught seafood into their meals for a variety of reasons and through a variety of procurement models. This guide covers why schools might choose to source local seafood, the different methods for purchasing local seafood, and innovative strategies for promoting local seafood to students.

Shrinking the Carbon and Water Footprint of School Food: A Recipe for Combatting Climate Change

This ground-breaking report from Friends of the Earth shows how institutional menu shifts toward less and better meat and more plants can fight climate change and increase access to healthy food, all while saving money. The report includes a case study that shows how Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) was able to significantly reduce its carbon and water footprint over a two-year period by replacing a share of its meat, poultry, and cheese purchases with plant-based proteins. These actions also saved the district money and improved students’ access to healthful food.

Food service directors face complex demands and requirements and serving kids tasty and nutritious food must remain their number one priority. The OUSD case study shows that plant-forward menu planning can support the mandate for healthier, delicious food and provides resources that can assist school districts—and other public institutions—in their shift to climate conscious menus.

Slow Food USA Youth Farm Stands Toolkit

Slow Food Denver and its partner, Denver Urban Gardens, developed a farm stand model on school grounds using fresh produce from school gardens and local farms. Youth Farm Stands (YFS) provide educational opportunities by reinforcing traditional academics such as math and science and building life skills such as customer service, conflict resolution, and entrepreneurship, and supports nutrition education training and community-building.

This toolkit presents the YFS model and how it can be used in a school setting as an educational tool, a way to teach nutrition and healthy eating, and as a community development and inclusivity-building activity. It provides all the steps and procedures to establish a basic YFS in nearly any school or district, with many resources to expand the program to fit the needs of the community.

State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002 – 2018

This handbook offers farm to school advocates a road map to learn about and engage in policy efforts that advance local food purchasing and farm to school activities that benefit students, farmers, and communities. The handbook summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 2002 and December 2018, and includes an analysis of trends, case studies, and advocacy resources for advocates and policymakers to support state farm to school policies. 

Toward a Sustainable Agriculture Curriculum

The University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems developed a free curriculum called Toward a Sustainable Agriculture that addresses the social, environmental, and economic impacts of agriculture. The curriculum, which includes five modules, provides a critical analysis of agricultural and food systems and helps students understand new concepts through hands-on examples.

Understanding Food and Climate Change: An Interactive Guide

The Center for Ecoliteracy’s Understanding Food and Climate Change: An Interactive Guide uses text, video, photography, and interactive experiences to help educators, students, and advocates learn how food and climate interact and how personal choices can make a difference. Ideal for grades 6-12 and general audiences and connected to Next Generation Science Standards and the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies themes, the guide offers activities for student research and provides extensive resources for further investigation.

Understanding Food and Climate Change: A Systems Perspective

The Center for Ecoliteracy’s Understanding Food and Climate Change: A Systems Perspective explores the links between food systems and our changing climate with an emphasis on systems thinking. A systems approach helps to illuminate how seemingly disconnected phenomena are often dynamically linked and can be understood best when viewed in a larger context. This collection of essays contains an extensive bibliography that provides resources for further investigation. Available as a free iBook for Mac and iPad users. A web version is also available for all computers and tablets.

USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Planning Toolkit contains tips, examples, insights, and resources for schools, school districts, and community partners looking to start or grow a farm to school program.

USDA Office of Community Food Systems

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Food Systems website is a repository of information for schools and farm to school advocates, including fact sheets, videos and webinars, and state and program staff contacts, as well as links to resources for procuring local foods, Farm to Preschool, and Farm to Summer.

USDA Team Nutrition School Garden Resources

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Team Nutrition has assembled a list of resources on school gardens, including general resources on planning, constructing, and maintaining a school garden as well as curricula and training.

Grants and Awards

American Heart Association Teaching Gardens Network Grants

The American Heart Association Teaching Gardens Network Grant program provides $2,500 grants to schools and education facilities to support new or established school gardens. Funding supports activities such as building, growing, and maintaining a garden; providing hands-on learning experiences; and teaching students about healthy eating and gardening via an interactive, cross-curricular, standards-based gardening and nutrition education curriculum. The deadline to submit applications for the 2019 – 2020 school year is October 11, 2019 at 5pm EST.

Annie’s Grants for Gardens

Annie’s offers Grants for Gardens donations to schools and other educational programs that help build school gardens. The Fall 2019 application period is open through November 1, 2019. Learn more about eligibility requirements, funding, and how to apply on Annie’s website.

Captain Planet Foundation ecoSolution Grants

The Captain Planet Foundation’s ecoSolution Grants (previously called “Small Grants”) have been the defining basis of the organization’s work over the last 25 years. The Foundation has funded over 2,100 projects that have impacted 1.2 million youth around the world – actively fulfilling its mission to build the next generation of environmental stewards and change agents.

ecoSolution Grants range from $500 – $2,500 and are intended to support solution-oriented, youth-led projects that result in real environmental outcomes. Visit the website to learn more about eligibility and restrictions and to fill out an application. The deadline to submit applications for the current grant cycle is January 15, 2020.

Captain Planet Foundation ecoTECH Grants

Originally developed in partnership with the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and with ongoing support from Voya Financial, ecoTech Grants are specifically offered to engage children in inquiry-based, STEM-related projects that leverage technology and/or use nature-based design to address environmental problems in local communities. ecoTech Grants were created to combat the notion that students needed to choose between “the screen” or “the green” and to encourage educators and students to explore the role technology can play in designing and implementing solutions to some of our most pressing environmental challenges. ecoTECH grant projects must:

  • Be based in the U.S.
  • Integrate the use of technology to address environmental problems (not iPads or other tablets)
  • Be project-based
  • Be youth-led
  • Result in real, demonstrable environmental outcomes

ecoTECH grants are available as cash grants of up to $2,500 and support the purchase of materials and other project implementation expenses. The deadline to submit applications for the current grant cycle is January 15, 2020.

Chef Ann Foundation Get Schools Cooking Program

Chef Ann Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2019 Get Schools Cooking cohort. Get Schools Cooking is an intensive three-year assessment and strategic planning program that provides K-12 schools with the operational knowledge to transition from heat-and-serve meals to scratch cooking. Participants take part in workshops; on-site training, assessment, and strategic planning; and yearly evaluations and receive technical assistance and a $35,000 Systems Assistance Grant. Visit the website to learn more about the program and its impact, eligibility requirements, and how to apply.

Constellation E2 Energy to Educate Grant Program

Constellation E2 Energy to Educate grants inspire students to think differently about energy. Through this unique grant program, Constellation has offered over 100,000 students in grades 6-12 and college opportunities to enhance their understanding of science and technology, and experience problem-solving today’s and tomorrow’s energy challenges.

Constellation is seeking proposals for hands-on projects which engage 100 or more students, within the following themes:

  • Energy in Transportation
  • Backyard Generation
  • Zero Waste

Grant awards are up to $25,000 for grades 6-12 and up to $50,000 for colleges and universities. Applications must be submitted online by October 1, 2019. Grant awards will be announced in November 2019 during American Education Week.


GetEdFunding is a curated collection of grants and awards created by education professionals for education professionals. Its database was designed to be easy-to-use and reliable, and all grant and funding opportunities are updated daily. Users can search by six criteria, including 43 areas of focus, 8 content areas, and 14 twenty-first century themes and skills, including environmental literacy. Once registered on the site, users can save grants of interest and return to them at any time.

Fund for Teachers 

Fund for Teachers provides educators the resources and funding they need to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences. Fund for Teachers grant awards support a variety of projects, all designed to create enhanced learning environments for teachers, their students, and school communities. Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $32 million in nearly 8,500 teachers. The application for 2020 professional development grants will be available starting October 1, 2019. In the meantime, learn more about the application process and what current and past fellows have accomplished.

Salad Bars to Schools Grants

Salad Bars to Schools launched in 2010 with the mission of donating salad bars to U.S. schools so that every child has daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program is invited to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Visit the website to learn about eligibility, award criteria, and the application process.

The Shell Science Teaching Award

A partnership between Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), this award recognizes one outstanding classroom teacher (grades K–12) who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and the community through exemplary science teaching. The recipient of the Shell Science Teaching Award will receive $10,000, as well as an all-expense-paid trip (along with the two finalists) to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education. All three will be honored at the Awards Banquet. The recipient will also be recognized at the Teacher Awards Banquet. The 10 semifinalists will receive certificates of distinction. Completed applications must be received by December 18, 2019.

Toshiba America Foundation Grants

K-5 teachers are invited to apply online for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their classroom. With a Toshiba America Foundation grant, elementary teachers can bring their best new teaching ideas to life.

Grant applications are due on October 1 each year. Grants are also available for teachers in grades 6-12 who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. Applications for grants less than $5,000 are accepted at any time. For grant requests of more than $5,000, deadlines are May 1 and November 1.

Voya Foundation Grants

Voya Foundation grants are focused on Financial Resilience. We work to ensure that youth are equipped with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) expertise and financial knowledge necessary to compete in the 21st century workforce and make smart financial decisions that lead to a secure retirement.

We accomplish this by accepting year-round grant applications from organizations that:

  1. Provide innovative and experiential K-8 STEM learning opportunities to promote an early interest in STEM career fields, and improve teachers’ capabilities in STEM; or
  2. Provide financial education curriculum to grade 9-12 students focused on navigating major financial milestones including student debt, credit, home ownership, financial products and services/financial capability, and family needs.

Whole Kids Foundation U.S. School Garden Grants

Created in partnership with FoodCorps, the Whole Kids Foundation U.S. School Garden Grants program provides $2,000 monetary grants to K-12 schools, or nonprofits working with K-12 schools, to support a new or existing edible garden on school grounds. Applications are due October 15, 2019 at 6:00pm EST.

Whole Kids Foundation Honey Bee Grant Program

In partnership with The Bee Cause Project, the Honey Bee Grant program allows K-12 schools and nonprofit organizations to receive support for an educational honey bee hive. Four grant options are available:

  • Monetary grant of $1,500 to support the success of a honey bee hive educational program.
  • Observation hive: equipment grant of a custom made indoor observation hive from The Bee Cause Project.
  • Traditional Langstroth Hive: equipment grant of an outdoor hive with Starter Kit.
  • Top Bar Hive: equipment grant of an outdoor top bar hive with Starter Kit.

All equipment grants include a small monetary grant of $300 that covers the first year of expenses. Grant recipients also receive remote consultation and assistance with Beekeeper partnership from The Bee Cause Project. 

To apply for consideration, submit a Letter of Intent by 6pm EST on October 15, 2019. Full applications must be submitted by 6pm EST on October 31, 2019.