Today, GEF’s community of over 9,200 members represents more than 5 million students who, through GEF’s National Green Week programs, learn the principles of waste reduction, energy and water conservation, green energy, and sustainable building. In addition, GEF works to empower the teachers who guide K-12 students, helping them understand and integrate principles of sustainability into their curricula. GEF offers educators the tools they need to enhance their sustainability knowledge, incorporate sustainability into education subjects/standards, and collaborate with sustainability-focused faculty nationwide.
National Green WeekGEF's flagship program, National Green Week, is an annual event that empowers schools to engage in sustainability focused lessons, projects or activities between the first week in February and the end of Earth Month (April). Participating districts, schools, classrooms or youth groups select from GEF's sustainability focused programs to be their ‘green theme.’ Each theme provides standards- based lessons, activities, recommended reading, sustainability tips, contests, and more!
Participate for the whole week, a day, or just one lesson or activity. Schools and groups are encouraged to take this opportunity to spend time with students discussing environmental issues and find out what they can do to make a difference. No matter what theme is chosen, participants are encouraged to apply for a National Green Week Green in Action award!
Green Week Sustainability ThemesGreen Building Program
The GEF Green Building Program educates K-12 students on green building attributes and benefits, and provides them with the strategies to take steps toward improving environmental inefficiencies within their own school building. Through lessons, audits, and activities students will cover topics including water and energy efficiency and environmental quality as they relate to building construction, operation and maintenance.
Sustainable Water Challenge
The Sustainable Water Challenge aims to educate schools and groups on the current issues in water sustainability and the steps we need to take to help conserve Earth’s most precious resource. Through GEF’s resources, K-12 students and educators will learn the basic properties of water, water pollution and depletion, as well as methods for water conservation. The Sustainable Water Challenge provides information on a broad range of water topics for all grade levels. As students and educators become more aware and knowledgeable of the challenges facing Earth's water supply, we can work together and do our part to reduce water consumption.
Waste Reduction Challenge
This program empowers students to be leaders of their own waste reduction campaign in their school or community. Schools chose any week between the first week in February through Earth Day to be their Green Week. During this time, schools adopt sustainability curriculum and participate in GEF eco-challenge programs. In 2011, over five million students mobilized to reduce waste, energy and water and green their school.
Green Energy Challenge
The Green Energy Challenge is an academic year-long program that calls on schools to improve their energy efficiency through simple changes in habit. Participation includes free tools to teach and encourage behavior change, such as curricula, audits, and classroom activities. In 2011, over 250,000 students took on the role of energy auditors in their schools and homes and implemented changes that resulted in thousands of dollars in energy cost savings within just a few months.
Green Thumb Challenge
The Green Thumb Challenge connects children with nature through gardening while providing teachers the curriculum to incorporate sustainable gardening as a teaching tool in the classroom. The "turn-key" garden plan provides participants with beginner-friendly resources to plant gardens of any size, as well as fun activities and standards-based lessons.
I Ride Green
The central goal of I Ride Green is to inspire families and individuals to develop lifelong habits for sustainable transportation and eco-travel that promote the health of the environment, the economy, and people. I Ride Green invites participants to start easy-to-adopt green habits that can lead to lifelong healthy behaviors.
K-12 Sustainability Lesson ClearinghouseGEF, with the support of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), created an online community for teachers to download and share K-12 sustainability education curriculum. Lessons are organized by grade and subject. Educators can upload their own, comment and provide feedback on posted curriculum, fostering an online social network that promotes best practices in sustainability education.
HistoryGEF received its non-profit status in October of 2008. Since that time, GEF has grown extensively - quickly becoming the fastest growing sustainability education non-profit organization in 2010 and a leader in providing standards based sustainability education curriculum and resources.
In October 2011, GEF launched GEF Institute, a division established to meet the increasing market demand for professional level, sustainability focused education and training. The Institute builds on GEF's expertise in K-12 sustainability education and STEM concepts by offering affordable online courses and certificate programs in sustainability to educators, students at the high school and undergraduate level, and professionals. Many of the Institute's online courses are available for professional development or academic credit.