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DC Bilingual PCS and Key ES Named 2021 US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Media Contact: Fred Lewis: (202) 412-2167, [email protected]


The Bowser Administration announced today that DC Bilingual Public Charter School and Key Elementary School have been named 2021 US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. The two schools, nominated by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), are among 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five postsecondary institutions honored this year for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

“Congratulations to DC Bilingual Public Charter School and Francis Scott Key Elementary School on receiving this recognition from the US Department of Education,” said Interim State Superintendent Shana Young. “Your efforts demonstrate that emphasizing the importance of green, healthy, and sustainable schools can have a positive impact on school building operations and provide real-world applications of what students are learning in the classroom.”  

DC Bilingual moved into its current building in 2016 and completed multiple renovations to earn a LEED Gold rating. Environmental efforts are facilitated by the school’s Department of Food and Wellness, which have been embraced and adopted by the entire school community. Accomplishments include building renovations that earned a LEED Gold rating from the US Green Building Council; curricular and out-of-school time programming that engages students, staff, families, and neighbors in environmental and sustainability education; and a school food program that significantly reduces waste through composting food waste, incorporating recyclable and disposable items, and utilizing an energy-efficient dishwasher. A hallmark feature of the school is the 7,000-square-foot garden, around which centers an expansive culinary and nutrition program, science instruction, and community programs.

For the past 10 years, Key Elementary has demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. Green building components include sensors to monitor indoor air quality, energy-efficient upgrades to the HVAC system, and the school grounds include several features that reduce stormwater runoff, as well as outdoor classroom areas with native plant habitats. Most notably, Key has a well-established Staff and Parent Green Committee that has spearheaded initiatives related to healthy eating, recycling in the classrooms, energy efficiency in the building, and organizing composting and recycling during lunch. The committee also organizes the Student Green Team, upper elementary students charged with helping to manage the school garden and recycling programs.

Full descriptions of both schools’ efforts can be found in the Highlights Report released by the US Department of Education.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 20 states. The selectees include five charter schools, one magnet school, and three nonpublic schools. Over half of the 2021 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 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 can be found here.