GSA's mission is to connect and empower K-12 schools to lead the transformation to global environmental sustainability.
Uniquely created by schools for schools, the GSA is a global network of schools represented by Sustainability Coordinators -- faculty, staff. students, administrators and others -- working together to solve environmental and climate challenges, GSA Member Schools are sharing and implementing sustainable best practices, and promoting connections between schools, communities, and the environments that sustain them. We do this by offering programs, exchanging resources, and creating Peer-to-Peer forums. Guided by Member Schools goals and vision, GSA schools quantify progress, coordinate governance, operations and curriculum to advance sustainability, and connect youth to nature.
The vision of the GSA is that of a global community of schools working together across boundaries to achieve an environmentally sustainable future. GSA envisions a healthy, abundant, equitable, ecologically diverse world that sustains all living things and wild places without depleting the resources on which they depend. In this vision, K-12 schools play a vital stewardship role to: CREATE healthy learning environments that connect students and nature; UNITE people across socio-economic, geo-political and generational boundaries; EDUCATE the greatest number to embrace a shared understanding about social, environmental, and economic interdependencies; and PROVIDE the values, long-term vision, and skills to live together sustainably.
Green Cup Challenge Summary (PDF) >
More About GSA Focus Areas
- Growing The Movement
- Reducing Our Environmental Footprint & Measuring Progress
- Connecting Youth To Nature
- Promoting Environmental Education
- Implementing Sustainable Solutions
GSA Membership: Growing The Movement
GSA’s member schools and the peer-to-peer relationships within the GSA network are its heart and soul. Membership, based only on a Commitment of Environmental Leadership, already includes nearly 3,000 member schools in 42 US states and 22 countries representing more than 2 million students -- by word of mouth alone.
GSA uniquely works with and through member school Sustainability Coordinators, representing all members of the school community—students, administrators, faculty, facility managers, business officers, and parents—to help them set and meet their climate and sustainability goals and raise environmental awareness.
Each school’s Personal Profile Page becomes one of the means through which member schools record and share progress toward their environmental goals. Those schools with advanced greening knowledge connect with and “Mentor” other GSA schools that are just starting out. Members and non-members alike can view the pages and the rest of the GSA interactive web platform —with different levels of access—maximizing the greatest benefit to the greatest number. By growing its membership and accessing and leveraging member schools’ experience and expertise, the GSA will accelerate the transformation to sustainability.
GSA's On-line Community: Reducing Our Environmental Footprint
GSA’s web-based “wiki” platform is a unique repository of effective programs, case studies, and curriculum provided by members of the school community that provide pathways to reduce our environmental footprints. The website is intended to be intuitive and interlinked through individual School Profile Pages so that GSA members and others can quickly and easily find helpful resources, as well as seek collaborative partners to develop new materials or implement existing examples. and provide simple, easy-to-use templates and materials, including The Green Journal, a collection of essays written and edited by school members, to help schools develop and implement programs and strategies. This unique crowd-sourced web platform around sustainability allows an unlimited number of GSA member schools to share their complete sustainability activity in simple, interlinked searchable profile pages.
Benchmarking & Tracking: Measuring Progress
By signing the GSA Leadership Commitment, schools commit to benchmarking and reporting their carbon emissions reductions and self-reporting their sustainability efforts. By tracking schools’ successes and making their initiatives available for other schools to see, it creates a ripple effect: it demonstrates that implementing similar solutions is not only possible, but desirable. To support schools’ reporting efforts, the GSA provides online tools to help schools learn to use existing instruments for tracking energy, emissions, and water use. Additionally, the Green Schools Alliance website will include these metrics on member schools’ Profile Pages which will allow them to share progress, lessons learned and successful initiatives with other schools and organizations.
Connecting Youth To Nature
“As soon as I heard what the Sc3 was, I wanted to be there. I’ve stared at environmental questions for 45 years. I want to be of whatever help I can to the younger generations, to give them hope that they can make the world better. I want them to know that I care deeply about them and that an older generation is arm in arm with them, no matter how dark it gets.” -- Barry Lopez
The GSA has graduated over 400 Student Fellows from the Student Climate & Conservation Congress (SC3). After the SC3, students are energized to make changes in their homes, schools and communities. Students attending the annual Congress commit to yearlong action plans with support from SC3 faculty. SC3 students have committed to such goals as community cleanups, planting gardens, hosting conferences, restoring wetlands, or doing an energy or environmental audit. As part of their commitment, Fellows complete a Student Sustainability Action Plan (SSAP) on the GSA website that other students can replicate.
Environmental Education in Action
The Green Cup Challenge (GCC): GCC already has reached hundreds of schools, and with the right support could be scaled to thousands quite quickly. The GCC makes saving energy into a fun community effort that creates “buy in” on campus—from the students to the facilities manager—because of the near real-time feedback on their and other schools’ efforts. The friendly competition between schools produces quantifiable results (in terms of energy and water savings and waste reduction) and momentum to expand school greening efforts. A large percentage of energy savings and concomitant CO2 emissions reductions and cost-savings resulting from GCC efforts are permanent. Green Cup Challenge 4-year CO2 emissions reductions equal more than 4 million pounds.
GSAx Events: Inspired by the TEDx Model, GSA events range from 50-person workshops to 1,000+ person resource fairs (the scale is chosen by the implementing schools). Designed to highlight member schools’ achievements in sustainability while broadening reach within those schools, GSAx events provide participants access to local resources such as state environmental organizations and green businesses, and work with partners to create opportunities to connect to nature. Since 2008, GSA has held or sponsored 16 conferences, resource fairs and workshops in 5 states with over 3,500 attendees, providing a model and inspiration for GSAx.
Original Sustainability Curriculum: GSA is working with its members to make their hands-on, experiential STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) curriculum available to all schools. Developed by faculty in the classroom, GSA aggregates members' original curriculum that reflect their expertise, experience and passion.