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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.76
Liaison Kimberly Williams
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Washington University
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Meghan Chapple
Director of Sustainability, Senior Advisor on University Sustainability Initiatives
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “supportive”?:

A brief description of the institution’s supportive sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Managed through the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, the Civic House Academic Residential Community (ARC) is a program for first-year students interested in becoming active citizens engaged in their communities. The three core tenets of Civic House are live, learn, and serve. The program challenges students to learn about the unique cultures, strengths, and needs of communities in Washington, D.C. and to build collaborative relationships among students, faculty, and community-based organizations to meet needs and learn through service. All Civic House students will live together in West Hall on the Mount Vernon Campus. Civic House is a program of GW’s Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.

Through Civic House, students are able to express their passion for service and social justice while participating in service-learning courses, advocacy development, and service projects. Students will work with non-profit organizations across the city through their service-learning coursework in University Writing 1020 and a number of service projects during the academic year. Additionally, Civic House students are encouraged to take an academic service-learning course during the spring semester while continuing their personal service commitments.

+ Date Revised: April 1, 2015

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “collaborative”?:

A brief description of the institution's collaborative sustainability partnership(s):

1. GW students with support from the Office of Sustainability run the GW GroW Community Garden on campus. The university provides the funding, space, permitting, materials, promotion, and other resources to maintain the garden. The garden program has important ties to and is a resource for the local community. The garden has developed a partnership with Miriam’s Kitchen - a local soup kitchen in the neighborhood - and has donated almost 2,000 pound of produce since May of 2012. Several community groups volunteer in the garden to learn about urban gardening including local middle and high school students, the GW Neighbors project, Foggy Bottom residents, and residents from the local senior living center at St. Mary’s Court. All of these efforts help to address food justice and equity in the urban setting.
Involvement with GroW Garden does not end in the soil, though. GW student interns provide expertise to local residents about environmental health within the urban food system. Also, GroW has been used as a drop-off site for a local Community Supported Agriculture, which encourages awareness of local and in-season food as participants utilized their farm shares. Finally, GroW is the only urban garden that provides produce to the local farmers market.

2. GW was also integral in the development of The District of Columbia Mayor’s College and University Sustainability Pledge (CUSP) in 2012, which invites the District’s institutions of higher education to commit to pursuing sustainability on an on-going basis 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 Office of Sustainability was instrumental in building the collaboration between institutions of higher education and the District government. The Office staff also helped to draft the pledge, and continues to help build the momentum and impact among and between the CUSP members and across other sectors such as health care. The Office of Sustainability staff works with these and other partners, including local businesses and economic development corporations such as City First Enterprises to develop on-the-ground projects such as compost and renewable energy that also promote local green jobs. The Office also provides an intern and staff who work with other CUSP members to organize and host regular meetings, to share best practices, and publicly disclose progress.

3. The Integrated Food Project is an ongoing partnership that developed in 2011 between GW, Jose Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, and the School Without Walls (SWW), a highly-regarded DC public magnet high school in Foggy Bottom. Drawing on the expertise of faculty members from several of GW’s schools and colleges, SWW teachers incorporate content focusing on food and nutrition into their coursework on history, physics, humanities, math, geography, French and biology. Additional teachers at SWW supplement the thirteen high school teachers enrolled in the curriculum building program for the more than 300 SWW students who are participating in the Project.

4. In addition, the Office of Sustainability, in partnership with Siemens Corporation, has partnered with School Without Walls Francis Stevens (SWWFS) elementary and middle school to expand their STEM-related curriculum and student activities. Siemens generously donated over 100 science kits that address renewable energy (solar and wind) and waste management practices as they regard climate change impacts. The kits are meant to engage SWWFS students both in the classroom and in after school programs.

5. The Rodham Institute, as part of the GW School of Medicine, is a community-centered organization whose mission is to partner with the local Washington D.C. community to achieve health equity by cultivating the next generation of community-oriented health care providers, and training them in innovative strategies to improve health care for all.

While there are many efforts and aspects of the Institute to highlight, for purposes of this discussion we chose to feature the Health Workforce Development project, specifically the Health Education Leadership Program.

The Health Education Leadership Program (HELP) is a bi-directional educational initiative that seeks to promote health profession careers among middle school students, encourage health and wellness among these students and their communities, and engage health professionals and trainees in service learning.

In spring 2014, the Rodham Institute and community partners launched HELP. As part of the month-long pilot project, Internal Medicine residents from George Washington University met weekly with self-selected youth health leaders from schools in Wards 7 and 8 for a “train the trainers” activity. Residents utilized the Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc.’s 12-module curriculum on cardiovascular health as a basis to develop health leadership skills to empower youth to teach other community members about healthy behaviors to improve cardiovascular health.

In July 2013, the Rodham Institute, in close partnership with the Calvin Coolidge High School Alumni Association and The South East Tennis & Learning Center, hosted a STEM-H Enrichment Day at George Washington University. More than 50 D.C.-area youth learned about careers in science, technology, engineering, math, and health through interactive sessions with mentors in these fields.

In April 2014, the Rodham Institute collaborated with community partners to hold a week-long HELP program, drawing more than 200 attendees, including students from D.C. public schools, their parents, as well as health professionals and trainees. During this week, youth learned about careers opportunities in health, participated in field trips to health care organizations in D.C., and worked with public health and medicine trainees on “applied health equity” projects, and other health mentorship activities.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “transformative”?:

A brief description of the institution's transformative sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

From 2012-2014 GW was involved in the Washington, D.C. Green Ribbon Committee, which advised the former District 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 provided a national and international point of view on the plan, as well as reached out to communities within the District that have not traditionally been part of sustainability planning.

The Green Ribbon Committee helped develop an aspirational vision for a vital and sustainable future for Washington, D.C., and provided valuable feedback on recommendations from working groups made up of District staff, subject matter experts and the public. The Committee also supported 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 was made up of District leaders from universities, non-profits, businesses, think tanks, and members of the community. GW President Knapp represented GW on this committee, while the Director of the Office of Sustainability served on the committee in his stead and provided strategic expertise on the plan and implementation.

+ Date Revised: April 1, 2015

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:

The GW Alternative Breaks program offers 6 winter break trips and 11 spring break trips to both domestic and international locations. Each trip has its own unique service area, from sustainability to education to labor rights. The pre-trip education component allows for GW students to delve into the situation they’ll find themselves in once they’re in the field doing service. Most trips feature service activities during the day, and bonding and exploring the area in the evenings. GW Alt Breaks trips offer GW students the opportunity to be global citizens and leaders while building lasting friendships with people from within and outside the GW community.

In just a week on an Alternative Breaks trip, individuals can make an impact in another community and meet a cohort of really genuine, dedicated students at GW. Participants become inspired by the stories of the transformative impact that this experience has both on GW student participants and on communities around the world.

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.