Illinois Green Schools Project

About the Program

The Illinois Green Schools Project is a year-long sustainability initiative designed for K-12 schools state-wide. Students, teachers, and staff form a green team and meet regularly to design and implement no-to low-cost sustainable practices in their school. No matter where you are on your sustainability journey, we want to help you advance down the path to net zero through projects that reduce your school’s impact and waste of energy, water, and/or materials. Now in its fourth year, join the cohort of schools who are implementing sustainability projects with educational tools and mentor guidance.

Applications are now closed for the 2023-24 Cohort.

Applications for the 2024-25 Cohort will open in late summer 2024.

Info Vid Slides - 3

Watch our quick program overview!

2023–2024 Program Timeline

August 16, 2023

School Registration Opens

School registration is completed by a faculty/administrator who wants to represent their their school as a Green Team Leader and act as the school's primary point of contact for the program. 

Registration closes September 29, 2023.

August 16, 2023

September 6, 2023

Mentor Registration Opens

Volunteers working in sustainability can sign up to mentor a participating school. Learn more about mentoring!

Registration closes September 29, 2023.

September 6, 2023

September 29, 2023

Registration Closes

Both School and Mentor registration forms are
due by September 29, 2023. 

September 29, 2023

October 13, 2023

Mentor Orientation

Mentors must join a virtual orientation to learn about the program and volunteer expectations, meet the other volunteers, and learn tips and recommendations for creating a successful and meaningful connection with their school.

October 13, 2023

October 19, 2023

Attend the Kick-Off!

Project participants join a virtual orientation to learn about the project, expectations, resources, and meet the other participants.

October 19, 2023

January 26, 2024

ILGSP Mini Grant Application Due

Applying for a mini grant is a great opportunity to teach your students about project funding and grant writing! Schools outline their project goals and write an appeal for financial support. Then, a committee of Illinois Green volunteers comes together to review grant applications and awards of up to $500.

Whether you're applying for a grant or not, this date serves as a great deadline for finalizing your project idea.

January 26, 2024

April 26, 2024

Final Project Submission Form Due

Schools complete a final submission form to describe the results of their project, report impact stats, and provide a visual representation of the project, not limited to photos, drawings, videos or other media. Photo releases are also required along with the submission.

These materials will help us celebrate and highlight your school’s accomplishments during the Illinois Green Schools Project Celebration Event.

April 26, 2024

May 22, 2024

Virtual Celebration Event

Join us to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2023-24 ILGSP Cohort! We will hear from some special speakers, announce the winning projects, and ask winning schools to showcase their projects. 

Check out last year's winners!

May 22, 2024

Gain access to tools and support

What does it mean to be Net Zero?

Based on definitions made by the EPA, Net Zero means consuming only as much energy as is produced, achieving a sustainable balance between water availability and demand, and eliminating solid waste sent to landfills. Every effort we make to reduce our impacts as individuals and community members, brings us that much closer to net zero!

Therefore, The Illinois Green Schools Project aims to help schools advance on the path to net zero through three major categories:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste

Projects that choose to address one of these topics through their project receive an extra 5 points in the mini grant and final submission assessment rubrics.



What is your school’s path to Net Zero?

With the Illinois Green Schools Project, you and your green team are free to design any type of project you like! Some schools enter with a specific project in mind. Others appreciate some guidance. If you need some inspiration, we have lots of resources to help you figure it out!

Check out our Resource Database for project ideas, links to step-by-step toolkits, suggested learning lab modules, profiles on past Green Schools Projects, and all sorts of additional information about possible Pathways to Net Zero. No matter where you’re starting from, you’re on the path! The options are endless and any steps towards sustainability and waste reduction are steps in the right direction!


A special message from Governor Pritzker!

Check out last year's winning projects

We love to celebrate the work of our schools! All participating schools are featured in project profiles that detail the goals, outcomes, and achievements of their schools year-long endeavors. Read through to gather inspiration and discover how schools across Illinois are taking inspirational steps to make their communities more sustainable and healthier for all!

Discover the impact of the project

Collaborating with others helps create stronger learning communities. I was excited to hear about the Illinois Green Schools Project because working together would allow us to share ideas with other schools and community groups. I enjoy hearing what other schools are doing and how we can improve our own green efforts.

Tracy Gordon
4th Grade Teacher, Half Day School in Lincolnshire, IL

Earn national recognition for your sustainability work.

Interested in taking sustainability at your school to the next level?