Just released: the National Action Plan for EFS

Download the plan here:  www.centerforgreenschools.com/nationalactionplan

The National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability, a collaborative effort coordinated by the Center for Green
Schools at the U.S. Building Council (the Center) and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), is a call for action to ensure that 
Education for Sustainability (EfS) is accessible to all students across the United States. The plan outlines a robust goal for 
all 50 states to adopt a comprehensive green schools policy that includes a graduation requirement around sustainability 
literacy by 2040. 

“When the U.S. Department of Education published its Green Ribbon Schools award which called for all K‐12 graduates 
to be environmentally literate, we received that as a directive for the community to band together and figure out how 
we will ensure that happens,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC.  “This national 
action plan represents the perspectives of the leading minds and the strongest champions of EfS for the first time 
together with one voice committing to a series of actions that will ensure that every student graduating from a U.S. K‐12 
school will be environmentally literate by the year 2040.” 

The action plan contains 11 sections that examine critical elements involved in ensuring that every student receives 
sustainability education by 2040. These categories include: collaboration, economic drivers, integrated content and 
curriculum, leadership, policy, pre‐service teacher preparation, professional development, public awareness, research, 
student assessment and teacher evaluation. Each section is authored by a different expert in the in the EfS field, with 
additional content provided by schools and business contributors including leaders from United Technologies 
Corporation, Office Depot and Congressman John Sarbanes (D‐MD). 

“EfS increases student engagement, a catalyst for both academic achievement and drop‐out prevention, providing a 
meaningful context to prepare students for careers and life beyond school,” said David Sobel, senior faculty, Antioch 
University New England and lead author of the National Action Plan. “EfS allows schools, districts and states to focus 
simultaneously on preparation for college, career and civic life by providing students opportunities to explore and 
improve social, economic and environmental conditions at home and abroad. And recent national calls to prioritize 
STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) are deeply enriched by the interdisciplinary nature of EfS.” 

In June 2013, the Center for Green Schools and HMH brought together stakeholders from academic, corporate and 
nonprofit sectors to envision a future where our schools support thriving, healthy and regenerative communities. 
Subject matter experts undertook the task of recommending key actions that, collectively, outline a pathway to achieve 
the ambitious goal around environmental literacy within this generation. The action plan intends to propel efforts to 
affect policies and practices through collaboration, alignment and large‐scale implementation.  

“At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we believe that all students can and should graduate educated for a sustainable future. 
As one of the world’s leading K‐12 education providers, we have the unique opportunity to directly impact this goal 
through our content,” said Mary Cullinane, chief content officer and executive vice president, corporate affairs at 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “We’re calling on our colleagues within the education sector to read this National Action 
Plan, consider your role in educating for sustainability and join us to take action to ensure all students graduate 
empowered and enthusiastic about their future.” 

The plan doesn’t put responsibility on just schools and EfS advocates – it’s going to take policy on the local and state 
level, private sector businesses, mainstream education content providers and higher education students and faculty to 
support and drive commitments for districts and states to take action.

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