Five Catholic Schools Are Among the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Catholic schools shine green in California, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Arlington, VA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) congratulates five Catholic schools honored as Education Department (ED) Green Ribbon Schools, out of 65 U.S. schools nominated. The Catholic schools are St. James Academy, Solana Beach, CA; Saint Agnes School, Louisville, KY; Saint Leo the Great School, Lincroft, NJ; Immaculata Catholic School, Durham, NC; and one post-secondary Catholic school, Loyola University in Chicago, IL.

The official Green Ribbon Schools published highlights state that "these honorees are ensuring that their students learn to live, work, and play with sustainability and health in mind — not as an afterthought, but as an integral part of everything they undertake."

State education officials nominate their top schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions based on their achievement in ED’s three Pillars: Pillar One - reducing environmental impact, such as waste, water, energy, greenhouse gases, and transportation, encompassing the areas of school facilities, grounds, and operations; Pillar Two - improving health and wellness by promoting a healthy physical environment (including aspects such as air quality, contaminant control, moisture control, acoustics, daylighting, pest management, and thermal comfort) and student and staff wellness practices (such as healthy school food and outdoors physical activity); and Pillar Three - offering effective environmental and sustainability education, including civic learning, green careers, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) connections.

At St. James, students and faculty have taken to heart the teachings of Laudato Si. Students are taught daily in the classroom, in church and through hands-on indoor and outdoor activities that they have a spiritual and moral responsibility to care for their community and world.

Saint Agnes School campus is home to a student-built and maintained pollinator garden, extensive wetlands that students helped create, a composting facility and a center focused on Earth literacy. In addition, all students also take part in a structured physical fitness curriculum.

Saint Leo the Great School focuses on grounds improvement, building management, and expanding the school’s environmental practices, programs, policies, and curriculum, implementing sustainable initiatives to raise awareness and reduce the school’s environmental footprint.

As a school that is part of a Franciscan parish, Immaculata’s mission statement mirrors the teachings of St. Francis to produce students who are responsible citizens of the world. This means working to care for all of Creation — people, soil, water, plants, air, and all other living organisms.

As a Catholic, Jesuit, urban university, Loyola addresses climate through three main strategies: campus, curriculum, and community engagement.

A complete list of the Green Ribbon Schools and the in-depth descriptions of each school’s environmental achievements are available on the ED website.

For more information about NCEA, visit and connect with NCEA on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.


In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy.