Catalyst Schools & Districts

Positioning sustainability as the driver of innovation in K-12 education.

Students at Discovery Elementary School, a Net-Zero Energy school in Arlington, Virginia, use their design skills while engaged in a mastery project.

Our Vision:

Healthy, Safe, Sustainable Schools for All

In 2017, Green Schools National Network (GSNN) launched the Catalyst Network to showcase how sustainability is driving innovation in K-12 schools. The Catalyst Network is comprised of schools and school districts across the country that are leveraging the triple bottom line to prepare students to co-create a sustainable future while increasing student achievement; improving the health and well-being of students and staff; and decreasing operational costs and the school’s/district’s ecological footprint.

A Nationwide Network of Catalyst Partners

GSNN is building a nationwide network of Catalyst partners to serve as replication hubs, places where educators, students, and school leaders can go to learn from their peers and return home to implement some or all of the best practices they experienced.

Whitewater Middle School is a Title I middle school located in Charlotte, North Carolina serving 800 students. Over five years, GSNN is helping Whitewater become a model Environmental STEM magnet school.

The Catalyst Network includes two categories of schools and districts:


Accelerator Schools and Districts are leaders in operationalizing sustainability practices consistently and with measurable results. They are committed to documenting, sharing, and elevating their work and serving as inspirational models to create learning conditions that support education for sustainability; design and operations that decrease environmental impact; and programs and spaces that enhance health and well-being.



Transition Schools are in the early stages of operationalizing whole school sustainability and aspire to create the conditions that support education for sustainability; design and operations that decrease environmental impact; and programs and spaces that enhance health and well-being.

The Catalyst Network provides the foundation for a symbiotic approach to sustainability and education. As a result, our students are more confident of whom they are and empowered to make a positive difference for themselves, their environment, and their communities

Geoff Deigan

Executive Director, Prairie Crossing Charter School

Prairie Crossing Charter School (PCCS) in Grayslake, Illinois has numerous awards as a model green and healthy school. PCCS has partnered with GSNN to deepen its practices and serve as a regional replication hub.

Join The Catalyst Network

The power of the Catalyst Network lies in the community of practice among our Accelerator and Transition partners. GSNN knows from research and experience that educators learn best from other educators. The Catalyst Network creates opportunities for partners to learn from and support each other as they blaze new pathways to prepare students as leaders for a healthy, sustainable future.

Once a district expresses an interest to join the Catalyst Network, they will work with GSNN staff to define partnership roles and develop a five-year plan that is tailored to meet their specific needs and budget.

Through our application process, schools and districts are identified as Accelerators or in Transition based on how well they are operationalizing best practices in the following areas:

  • Curriculum that advances environmental and sustainability literacy;
  • Stewardship, equity, and service-learning;
  • Sustainable facilities design, operation, and management that reduces environmental impact and operating costs;
  • Programs and buildings that enhance the health and well-being of students and staff;
  • Organizational culture that is equitable, just, collaborative, and regenerative; and
  • Commitment to document, evaluate, and research best practices and processes.

Application Process

Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) is a national leader in integrating environmental stewardship into daily practice across an entire district. EUSD has partnered with GSNN to showcase and expand its reach and impact both internally and beyond.