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Colorado Green Ribbon Schools

About Green Ribbon Schools

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honors America’s public and private elementary, middle and high schools for their efforts toward improving student health and achievement and reducing their environmental impact. A Green Ribbon Schools award will represent a healthy and sustainable school, recognized by parents, students, staff and governments at federal, state and local levels as an exemplary model of achievement in sustainability, health and environmental education.

Green Ribbon Schools sets a standard of excellence for all schools to become energy efficient and healthy learning spaces that provide environmental education. National studies and existing green schools programs indicate that the benefits of the Green Ribbon Schools program will include increased energy cost savings, improved student and staff health and productivity, enhanced critical thinking skills, improved student performance, reduced behavioral problems and increased student engagement, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

While the award confers no federal funds, winners of the Green Ribbon, like Blue Ribbon Schools, may experience national and local press coverage, re-energized staff and parents, enhanced community support, increased application rates, and increased opportunities for private financial assistance. Winners will be invited to participate in national and local recognition ceremonies.

Available resources:


A Colorado school has been honored as a national recipient of the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards.  Aspen Prep Academy in Greenwood Village was chosen as a National Green Ribbon School.

Across the country, 39 schools, 11 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 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools, including three magnet schools and four charter schools, as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body. 

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found on the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools webpage. Highlights from Aspen Prep Academy and the other national honorees can be found in the 2020 Highlight Report.

Third graders demonstrate the Toss like a Boss Campaign

Third graders demonstrating the _Toss Like a Boss_ recycling campaign.

Aspen Prep Students Picking Apples at school 

Aspen Prep students picking apples at school.

Past Award Winners


  • Aspen Prep Academy


  • Central High School, Grand Junction
  • Mackintosh Academy, Denver


  • Colorado Mountain College, Glenwood Springs
  • Sedalia Elementary School, Douglas County School District


  • Heritage Elementary, Douglas County School District
  • Poudre School District, Fort Collins
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs


  • Red Hawk Elementary, St. Vrain Valley School District
  • Colorado State University



  • Boulder Valley School District
  • Larkspur Elementary School, Douglas County School District
  • Lesher Middle School, Poudre School District
  • Mesa Elementary School, Montezuma-Cortez School District


  • Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School, Poudre School District
  • Douglas County School District


  • Wellington Middle School, Poudre School District
  • Flagstone Elementary School, Douglas County School District
  • Denver Green School, Denver Public Schools

2021 Application Information

Green Ribbon Schools 2020-2021 (PK-12)

Green Ribbon Schools 2020-2021 (District)

Green Ribbon Schools 2020-2021 (IHE)


Pillar 1: Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs

  • Reduced or eliminated greenhouse gas emissions, using an energy audit or emissions inventory and reduction plan, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements, conservation measures, and/or on-site renewable energy and/or purchase of green power;
  • Improved water quality, efficiency, and conservation;
  • Reduced solid and hazardous waste production through increased recycling and composting, reduced consumption, and improved management, reduction, or elimination of hazardous waste; and
  • Expanded use of alternative transportation, through active promotion of locally available, energy-efficient options and implementation of alternative transportation supportive projects and policies.

Pillar 2: Improved Health and Wellness

  • High standards of coordinated school health, including health, nutrition, and outdoor physical education; health, counseling, and psychological services for both students and staff; family community involvement; and an integrated school environmental health program that considers occupant health and safety in all design, construction, renovation, operations, and maintenance of facilities and grounds.

Pillar 3: Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education

  • Interdisciplinary learning about the key relationships between dynamic environmental, energy and human systems;
  • Use of the environment and sustainability to develop STEM content knowledge and thinking skills to prepare graduates for the 21st century technology-driven economy; and
  • Development of civic engagement knowledge and skills and students' application of these to address sustainability and environmental issues in their community.

Colorado is permitted as many as five school and district nominations. If CDE nominates more than one public school, one must be a school with at least 40 percent of its students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch. Charter schools, private schools, and early learning institutions may also be nominated for the award. Institutions of higher education (two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities) may also be nominated.

For more information on the Colorado Green Ribbon Schools Program, including application assistance and mentorship opportunities, please contact:

Patty Gleason
Senior Consultant
Competitive Grants and Awards
(303) 866-6143