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MVUSD Recognized as 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee

MVUSD Recognized as 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee

Moreno Valley Unified School District
Anahi Velasco, Director of Communications and Community Engagement | 951-571-7625 

Moreno Valley Unified School District Named 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Awardee

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. – The U.S. Department of Education officially recognized the Moreno Valley Unified School District at a ceremony on Aug. 8 in Washington, D.C. as a 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee.  

Across the country, 26 schools, 11 districts, and four postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. 

“Words cannot express how proud we are of receiving this recognition,” said School Board President Susan Smith. “We will continue to work together to create a sustainable future for the next generations to come.”

The Moreno Valley Unified School District was first announced in April from a pool of candidates nominated by 18 states. The Moreno Valley Unified School District was nominated by the California Department of Education for its efforts in three pillars: (1) reduced environmental impact and costs, (2) improved health and wellness, and (3) effective environmental education. 


A few highlights of the MVUSD programs that align with the three pillars include:


  • The district created an Energy Specialist Manager position responsible for optimizing the use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; irrigation; and other energy-using systems. The Energy Specialist Manager also connects with every school and teacher to share energy conservation, health and wellness, and educational resources. 

  • The Transportation Department transitioned its diesel buses to electric and responsible fuels; the fleet now includes 42 electric school buses, 28 Compressed Natural Gas buses, and 31 propane buses. 

  • The district uses funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to provide elementary school students with additional fresh fruits and vegetables as a snack outside regular meal service. 

  • The district has implemented the Junior Scholars Program as part of the curriculum for middle school students, including a semester where students solve real-world problems. Past projects include solving pollution in the ocean, hydraulic vehicles, climate change and environmental degradation.

  • North Ridge Elementary School features the Model Environmental Science Area (MESA), where students learn about healthy eating, botany, and wildlife.


School Board President Susan Smith, Superintendent Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, Executive Director of Transportation Jim Burleson, and Executive Director of Maintenance and Operations Anthony Pipkins received sustainably crafted plaques and banners on behalf of the district at the ceremony. 

“Although we were not able to take everyone to Washington D.C., I would like to recognize two divisions that spearheaded our efforts towards sustainability. Under the guidance of two of our executive leaders who work closely with me - Chief Academic Officer Dr. Esperanza Arce and Chief Business Official Susana Lopez - this award represents the dedication and commitment of their teams,” said Superintendent Dr. Martinrex Kedziora. “Not only does this include the work of our staff, but also the work that our students contributed through their classrooms and projects. Congratulations to all!”

All awardees were recognized for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impacts and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective sustainability and environmental education. 

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here

Representing California's 39th Congressional District, Congressman Mark Takano also shared a congratulatory video to the district for the recent award. 

On hand for the event at the U.S. Department of Education were White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten. Henry McKoy, director of the Office of State and Community Energy Programs for the U.S. Department of Energy and Janet McCabe, deputy administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also congratulated the honorees for their efforts. 

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council offered a reception on Capitol Hill following the event. In addition, numerous agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Energy, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offered events throughout the week to connect honoree representatives with more resources and honor their achievements in whole school sustainability.