The Sustainable Schools Challenge is a local, independent sustainability certification created by Clean Memphis that is modeled after the Federal Green Ribbon Schools program. It is meant to serve the unique concerns and challenges faced by schools in the greater Memphis area. Clean Memphis is committed to helping participating schools successfully compete the Sustainable Schools Challenge through on the ground support and programming, providing educational and physical resources, and troubleshooting unforeseen obstacles. Clean Memphis also brings in additional nonprofit organizations and government agencies through guest speakers, environmental fairs, and service projects.
The participation of the teachers, administrators, and students is vital to the success of the Sustainable Schools Challenge at each school. The goal is to teach students to be environmental stewards at school and at home. Students will be leaders in their communities through energy efficiency projects, clean ups, garden installations, and stream restoration projects, to name a few.
Clean Memphis certified 8 schools at the Bronze Certification Level this past May. The goal is to engage and certify at least 20 schools in the next three years. Schools that are certified at the Gold level should be prepared to apply for the Federal Green Ribbon distinction.
Success will be measured at each school through savings from decreased energy and water usage, recycling at least 30% of their waste, and maintaining an outdoor garden. The program will be considered a success if certified schools adopt a culture around sustainability and environmental stewardship that permeates into students’ personal lives.