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SEED's Genome Awards to honor 'green' colleges

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Solar panels provide energy for a community college in California.

​ORLANDO, Fla. — Community colleges that have taken a strategic leadership role in green economic and workforce development or sustainability should strive to take a systematic and integrated approach to ensure that "green" is part of their DNA, according to Todd Cohen, director of the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center, an initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Just as a genome is made up of DNA strands, a “green genome community college” incorporates green policies, practices, programs and concepts into four building blocks, or as the initiative is calling them, DNA strands—community engagement, governance, program design, and delivery and strategic partnerships (see details, below)—to transform itself into a green, sustainable institution.

To encourage colleges to embrace this transformation, the SEED Center has launched its inaugural Green Genome Community College Awards, which will honor exemplary colleges that have taken a strategic, integrated approach to promoting green economic and workforce development and sustainability.

Five national winners will each receive $8,000 cash awards plus $5,000 in state-of-the-art equipment and tools. The selected colleges will be showcased on the SEED Center website and at AACC and SEED events.

SEED received a grant from the Kresge Foundation to support the awards program. Snap-on/Bahco contributed $32,000 worth of tool sets and horticulture equipment.

Applications for the Green Genome Awards are due June 22. An independent panel of leaders in green workforce development and sustainability will review them in early July, followed by site visits in July and August. Finalists will be selected by the end of September. SEED will announce the winners in October or November.

Details on the awards program and SEED’s vision for creating green colleges were outlined this weekend at a session at the AACC Annual Convention. Cohen, SEED consultant Mindy Feldbaum and Marcy Drummond of the Los Angeles Trade Technical College will again discuss the Genome Awards during a webinar scheduled for May 1.

DNA strands

The award judges will select one winner based on an institution’s mastery of all the DNA strands/key areas. The other four winners will be selected based on their success in the strands, which are:
 
Community engagement—Substantive and meaningful regional, state and local community engagement strategies, policies and partnerships that leverage and align the college’s assets and resources to advance green economic growth, employment and an inclusive, sustainable community.
Governance—Design, structure, facilities, policies, plans, resources, processes and practices that reflect a commitment to sustainability and green workforce and economic development that confers benefits to the institution, community and students.
Program design and delivery—Preparation and education of a skilled and qualified green workforce by facilitating the development and delivery of high-quality, effective green education and training programs based on industry needs that lead to a credential and family-sustaining job.
Strategic partnerships—A mastery of developing and maintaining responsive, collaborative and mutually beneficial external relationships that help inform, sustain and advance the college’s efforts to create a sustainable and economically viable green workforce, community and college.

The awards competition is only open to community colleges that are SEED members. Other colleges can apply if their president pledges to join SEED.
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