Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.20
Liaison Kimberly Williams
Submission Date May 14, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

George Washington University
PAE-19: Community Sustainability Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Meghan Chapple
Director of Sustainability, Senior Advisor on University Sustainability Initiatives
Office of Sustainability
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Does the institution participate in community sustainability partnerships that meet the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with the local community:

The School Without Walls (SWW), a non-traditional DC public high school established in 1971, aims to utilize the “city as a classroom” in order to give students a richer and more fulfilling education. Located within the boundaries of The George Washington University’s (GW) Foggy Bottom campus at 2130 G Street, NW, the school’s student-centered environment maximizes integrative, interactive, and experiential learning within the framework of a humanities approach that stresses collaboration among staff, students, and parents. This “community as a classroom” approach graduates students that are independent, self-motivated and well prepared to handle the rigors of college.
The unique relationship between SWW and GW began in 1980. Since that time, the two institutions have collaborated on several levels with the goal of fostering a mutually beneficial learning environment. Examples of these joint initiatives include:

- Facilities Sharing: GW provides SWW students and faculty with access to Gelman Library, the Marvin Center and the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center. SWW provides GW
with access to classroom space during the evening hours.
- Teaching Collaborations: GW faculty, staff and graduate students guest lecture in SWW
classes and teach certain SWW elective courses.
- Internships for GW Graduate Students: Students in GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development serve as interns at SWW in the areas of science, social studies, special education and counseling.
- Educational Opportunities: SWW students, faculty and staff are permitted to enroll in GW courses, with waiver of tuition and fees.
- Educator Training: GW offers continuing education opportunities to SWW faculty, specifically the opportunity to achieve the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.

This public-private development partnership provides for the renovation and modernization of SWW and also expands the existing programmatic partnership. The University’s commitment to the School Without Walls is further exemplified by the GW’s
Trachtenberg Scholarship Program which provides full, four-year scholarships to academically talented seniors attending high schools in the District of Columbia. The scholarships include tuition, fees, housing, meals and books and is valued at approximately $200,000 over four years. This program has benefited 93 students since its inception in 1989 – 12 of whom have been SWW students.

The GW GroW Garden also engages many local community members. The garden has developed a partnership with Miriam’s Kitchen and has donated almost 2,000 pound of produce since May of 2012 and hosted a workshop about bees last summer. Several other community groups have volunteered in the garden over the past year including Georgetown Day School, a summer high school writing class, and the GW Neighbors project. We also had individual volunteers including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, Foggy Bottom residents, and residents from St. Mary’s Court.

Involvement with GroW Garden does not end in the soil, though. In 2013 there was an exhibit at Gallery 102 featuring a “Slow Food Photography” class’ projects, one being the transition from winter to spring at GroW Garden. An entire section was dedicated to pictures of the garden, garden volunteers, and an interview with the garden manager. GroW is also represented on the Urban Food Task Force. The Urban Food Task Force is a group of staff, faculty, and students led by Diane Knapp, a dietitian and GW President Knapp's wife, to support sustainable and healthy food projects throughout the community, including Food Day, the School Without Walls Integrated Food Project, and the GW Food Expo. Student Haley Burns, the garden manager for the spring 2013 semester, also spoke to GW Faculty Phyllis Palmer’s Food Politics class about urban farming and to residents at senior living center St. Mary’s Court about environmental health within the food system. Finally, GroW has been used as a drop-off site for a local Community Supported Agriculture group that involved 30 community members, encouraging awareness of local and in-season food as participants utilized their farm shares.

GW is also involved in the Washington, D.C. Green Ribbon Committee, which advises Mayor Gray on the development of his Sustainable DC initiative by offering input on vision, goals, actions, and indicators recommended by the public and the working groups. The Green Ribbon Committee provides a national and international point of view on the plan, as well as reaches out to communities within the District that have not traditionally been part of sustainability planning.

The Green Ribbon Committee has helped develop an aspirational vision for a vital and sustainable future, and provide valuable feedback on recommendations from working groups made up of District staff, subject matter experts and the public. The Committee also supports implementation of the plan and achieving Mayor Gray’s goal of making the District of Columbia the most sustainable city in the nation.

The committee is made up of District leaders from universities, non-profits, businesses, think tanks, and members of the community. President Knapp and Professor Kathleen Merrigan (Executive Director of GW Sustainability Institute) serve on this committee, with staff support from Meghan Chapple (Director, Office of Sustainability).

GW was also integral in the development of The District of Columbia Mayor’s College and University Sustainability Pledge (CUSP), which invites the District’s institutions of higher education to commit to pursuing sustainability as engaged participants in the Mayor’s ambitious goal of making the District of Columbia the most sustainable city in America. The CUSP recognizes the critical leadership role of the District’s colleges and universities in advancing sustainability on campus and in the community. GW staff were instrumental in creating this pledge, and continue to help build the momentum and impact among and between the CUSP members through on-the-ground projects such as compost and renewable energy, as well as regular meetings to share best practices.

The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.