On Earth Day 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced that New Roots Charter School in Ithaca, NY is among the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.

New Roots Charter School was nominated by New York State Department of Education based on school curriculum, culture, and practices that are closely aligned with the three Green Ribbon pillars of reduced environmental impacts, increased wellness, and a focus on the environment and sustainability as the context for STEM learning.

Awarded the Green Schools National Network’s Best of Green Schools Award in 2019, the school integrates core environmental, sustainability, green technology, and civics studies into a four-year college preparatory curriculum.  Students examine the complex relationship between human and natural systems and how they can serve as ecological stewards and agents of ecosystems restoration, developing their capacity as “solutionaries.” Students conduct scientific field studies, learn directly from community environmental organizations and local agencies, and share their research with our wider community through symposium presentations on topics such as the Cayuga Wetlands Project, a student-initiated project inspired by the ecological knowledge of the people of the Cayuga Nation and watershed explorations in upper level science classes. In their senior year, students address a sustainability issue in our community through research and action in self-designed Capstone Projects.

“The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award criteria sets the gold standard,” said New Roots Founder and Principal, Tina Nilsen-Hodges. “We are so honored to be recognized among schools committed to the highest ideals for these essential elements of a 21st-century education.”

“In an era of global climate change, there’s an urgent need for educators to adopt the practices aligned with the three pillars of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools,” said Peter Bardaglio, Executive Director of Ithaca’s 2030 District, Founder of Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, and founding member of the New Roots Charter School Board of Trustees.

Across the country, 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 20 states. The selectees include 24 public schools, five charter schools, one magnet school, and three nonpublic schools. Over half of the 2021 honorees are in communities where over 40 percent of the student body are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 40 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.

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For more information, contact Michael Mazza, director of community engagement at New Roots Charter School, at mmazza@newrootsschool.org.