The Connect the Dots program challenges K–12 schools across the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia regions to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no or low cost sustainable practices for their schools. The program aims to increase environmental stewardship, strengthen community outreach, encourage creativity, and complement curriculum development.

Participating schools can target projects that aim to lower operating maintenance costs; improve indoor air quality; conserve natural resources, and more! Schools are matched with volunteer mentors to help guide project development and implementation. Projects will be registered as part of USGBC’s annual Green Apple Day of Service campaign to access additional funding and project planning resources.

The schools that most effectively meet this challenge are awarded for their achievements at a ceremony around Earth Day. Participation requires a final project report, due at the end of March.

Registration for the 2018–2019 Connect the Dots Green Schools Challenge is now closed.

connect the dots

Students learn about environmental stewardship at Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, as part of their Connect the Dots project.

Connect the Dots goals

  • Encourage students to think creatively and connect sustainability to K–12 curriculum
  • Conserve natural resources to lower school operating maintenance costs and reduce the carbon footprint
  • Increase facility indoor air quality
  • Engage the business community and building industry to help teachers and students improve their learning environment
  • Promote environmental stewardship in our communities and create a generation of environmentally conscious leaders
  • Support schools as a center of community

Connect the Dots schedule

Project guidance and awards submission

Any school sustainability initiative can be a Connect the Dots project! Projects can engage the entire school, a grade level or a single classroom. School project teams will be paired with a volunteer mentor from the building and design industry to provide expert guidance in the design and implementation of the project.

Mentors and schools will be paired in the fall, with the goal to establish a project plan and timeline by the end of October. Mentors will assist projects in registering as part of USGBC’s Green Apple Day of Service campaign to receive access to additional planning tools and the opportunity to fundraise for project supplies.

Past projects have included:

  • Implementation of schoolwide recycling and composting
  • Energy audits
  • Installation of outdoor gardens and rainwater collection barrels
  • Environmental awareness assemblies and tours
  • And more!

Teachers are encouraged to use project data and goals as part of STEM-related curriculum. See the Resources section below for more project ideas and curriculum content.

Participating schools are celebrated at an awards ceremony in around Earth Day. To be considered for an award at the ceremony, projects must complete a brief report on their project by March 31, 2019. Download the submission guidelines and judging criteria for more information.

View the 2017–2018 Connect the Dots program participants.

connect the dots 2

Students and teachers from The Steward School in Richmond, Virginia, pose with a Connect the Dots Award celebrating their project’s excellence in data measurement and verification.

Mentor responsibilities

Volunteer mentors with green building expertise are paired with schools to support the development and implementation of creative sustainability solutions for the building or campus. Mentors will

  • Complement staff and student efforts to design projects that can be conducted over the course of the 2018–2019 school year.
  • Provide access to resources and tools that support project implementation, including community partners and subject matter experts.
  • Represent your profession and expose K–12 students to careers in sustainability.
  • Assist with documentation for project submission to the spring awards ceremony.

Check out our tips for the Five Steps to a Successful Mentorship.

Read the Volunteer Mentor job description.

Project planning resources

Questions? Please contact Cindy Zork.