ecorise youth innovations sustainability curriculum

Dear supporters,

At EcoRise, we strive to elevate student voices and advance student-led solutions to real-world challenges with programs focused on sustainability, climate justice, and green career pathways. This school year, our programs provided more than 320,000 students with the opportunity to step up as leaders and advocate for the changes our planet desperately needs.

As a community, we have confronted many challenges this school year, including the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather associated with the climate crisis. It has been an especially difficult year for our network of 5,739 K–12 educators, whose resilience and creativity ensured that students still had the opportunity to conduct Eco-Audits, develop projects, and share them with an authentic audience through our virtual student showcases like this one. Despite the disrupted educational environment, EcoRise granted more than $48,000 to students this year to create 88 solutions inspired by real-world environmental and social challenges in their communities. Check them out in the Student Innovation Fund section of our digital report.

At EcoRise, our Core Values have fueled our work this year and allowed us to creatively evolve programs to meet the needs of the current moment and reshape and reimagine programming for the future. This year, we published a new K–12 environmental justice curriculum, launched our Mayor’s Youth Engagement Council with municipal leaders, expanded our green building workforce development and internship programs, and piloted a program that brings complex climate data and GIS mapping into high school classrooms.

The support of our partners and donors has allowed us to deliver on our mission through these challenging and unpredictable times, mobilizing thousands of students as sustainability leaders over the last school year. Thank you for your continued support and partnership in this work.

Together, #WeRise.

Jonathan Stott
Executive Director

EcoRise inspires a new generation of leaders to design a sustainable future for all.

Through teaching sustainability, design innovation, and social entrepreneurship, our school-based program empowers youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities.

Our Program

Our Values

What We Offer

Click the tabs below to explore our curricula and programs.

Sustainable Intelligence

Learning That Inspires Action

Builds sustainability knowledge across seven eco-themes: water, waste, food, energy, air, public spaces, and transportation

Design Studio

Framework and Activities for Innovation

Guides students to develop and implement creative solutions to pressing problems by using EcoRise’s design-thinking process

Green Building Lessons

For a Sustainable Future

Prepares students to enter the green workforce with an understanding of green building techniques, sustainability, and climate resiliency; also offers an optional pathway for students to take the LEED Green Associate™ Exam to gain a valuable professional credential

Intro to Environmental Justice

For Elementary, Middle, and High Schoolers

Creates a foundational understanding of environmental justice history and concepts and encourages students to explore their place in undoing harm caused by racist behaviors, policies, and systems

Biomimicry and Science

Applying Nature’s Strategies

Challenges chemistry, physics, and biology students to look at “nature as a mentor” in order to solve sustainability challenges

EV Lessons for Schools

Transportation, Education, and Access

Introduces students to electric vehicles (EVs) and helps them analyze transportation habits and the environmental impacts of those habits

The Business of Social Good

Entrepreneurship in Service of People, Planet, Profit

Introduces principles of social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and design thinking and challenges students to develop a business idea

Understanding Our Water Footprint

Water Use on a Personal and Global Scale

Expands basic water conservation instruction to add a global perspective and cultivate an awareness and understanding of indirect water use; created in partnership with the GRACE Communications Foundation

“EcoRise has helped me grow as a person. The way the lessons are formatted has helped me better understand how so many different subjects are affected by issues related to sustainability. My students constantly reflected upon the state of our Earth and what we are doing to either improve it or harm it. Every curriculum can benefit by adding ideals and concepts from the EcoRise program.”  

—Teacher, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Rio Grande Valley, TX

Teacher Ambassador Program

Supports teacher leaders in developing leadership and facilitation skills to champion sustainability education in their communities

Sustainable Intelligence Program

Pairs hands-on curriculum with engaging professional-development experiences and microgrants to make students’ green ideas a reality

Gen:Thrive

Connects schools, environmental education providers, and funders to accelerate sustainability and environmental education programs in K–12 schools

Youth Climate Councils

Engages students and educators in climate justice civic action through monthly gatherings and community-based action projects

Project-Based Learning Academy

Trains teachers to transform passive learning into active participation, linking multidisciplinary programs with sustainability education

Paid Summer Internships

Provides high school and college students with immersive green career and workforce development experiences in the fields of sustainability, green building, and climate resilience

Stories from the Classroom

Connecting Students to Hope & STEM Careers: Octavia Wolf’s Story

“EcoRise projects have enabled my students to see themselves as scientists, environmentalists, and climate change leaders and have allowed them to connect with passions and interests that they were not familiar with before.”

Octavia teaches at West Education Campus, a Title I school in Washington, DC. She has used the EcoRise curricula to bring experiential, equity-focused environmental education to her classroom for the past few years. Click below to read how our resources are helping her students see their full potential and overcome the barriers students of color typically face in becoming STEM professionals.

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Passionately Determined to Make a Difference: Rosalie Patel’s Story

“When I started using the sustainability curriculum with my young students they lit up! They were shocked by the problems in the world around them and they became passionately determined to make a difference.”

Rosalie is a teacher at Boone Elementary in Austin, Texas. She has been using EcoRise resources in her classroom for three years and feels that her students are growing up aware of the challenges the world is facing and developing the confidence and problem-solving skills to enact change. Click below to read about how EcoRise sustainability curricula and student-led grants have impacted her classroom.

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Who We Served This Year

5,739
teachers
321,384
students
2,678
schools
2,546
hours of teacher training

EcoRise programs are used in 50 U.S. states and 52 other countries!

High Impact Regions

Atlanta, GA • Austin, TX • Bay Area, CA • Boston, MA • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX • Houston, TX • Jersey City, NJ • Los Angeles, CA • New Orleans, LA • New York City, NY • Rio Grande Valley, TX • Sacramento, CA • San Antonio, TX • Washington, DC • West Palm Beach, FL

“EcoRise has been a tremendous entity in the development of my classes and my teaching. The curriculum has transformed my content into an amazing deep dive into the social realm, making things real and applicable for my students.” 

—Teacher, Dunbar High School, Washington, DC

EcoRise Teacher Ambassadors and Education Fellows are champions of sustainability education, implementing EcoRise resources and curricula in their classrooms while inspiring and empowering other teachers locally and nationally.

Student Stories

Green Building Internship: Turning Passions into Careers

“Students should consider a green career because climate change and pollution are big issues. So many careers are going to open up. It’s good to be ahead of the curve.”
—Sophia, Green Building Intern

Through the Green Building Internship Program, EcoRise hopes to help traditionally underrepresented students realize their power and potential to thrive in the green jobs market. Click below to hear from Sophia about the growth she experienced and the passions she connected with through this program.

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Meet the San Antonio Mayor’s Youth Climate Council

“I learned I’m a really resilient person [and that] youth have more power than we think. Just by speaking out for what you believe in, is the first step in a chain reaction of things you can do.”
—Ren, Youth Council Member

The San Antonio Mayor’s Youth Engagement Council for Climate Initiatives provides a way for youth to actively engage in the civic process and invest in the future of their city as part of the City of San Antonio’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan. Read about the work the Council undertook in San Antonio this school year.

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Did you know EcoRise was recently awarded a prestigious 3-year grant from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Literacy Program? The grant is funding our Building a Green texas program which is helping to develop the green workforce of the future.

Program Impact

Of the EcoRise teachers surveyed …

Of the EcoRise students surveyed …

Fostering Green Schools

Building a Culture of Sustainability at C. W. Harris

“[The students] have developed a belief that they can make a difference, a strong voice to communicate the solutions they want to implement, and a strength of character that has them looking at what is best for the community as a whole.”
—Kendra Heffelbower, STEM Coach, C. W. Harris Elementary

During the modernization process of C. W. Harris Elementary in Washington, DC, EcoRise and Perkins Eastman helped teachers leverage their new school’s green building features for STEM-based classroom instruction. By connecting students to their built environment, we are building a culture of sustainability in the school and community. Click below to learn more.

Watch the Video

Fostering Community Between Teachers & Green Professionals

“It’s a really great community that EcoRise has built. I love learning what teachers are doing across the country. I feel like as much as I give to the program, I get back.”
—Leah Schroeder, Architectural Designer, Perkins Eastman

The EcoRise Green Building Academy brings together educators and green professionals from across the country for mentorship and professional development. Click below to learn how teacher Laura Gallant and green professional Leah Schroeder worked together to bring real-world experiences and a professional credential to Laura’s classroom this year.

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Student Innovation Fund

EcoRise introduces students to the three pillars of sustainability: people, planet, prosperity.

47,781
Eco-Audit Grants awarded
87
projects funded
43,879
school resource savings

Grant awardees have real impacts on their communities! Every student group that’s funded demonstrates the social, economic, and environmental significance of their sustainability projects. Check out what our students accomplished this year:

71,275
gallons of water saved
2,840,508
pounds of waste diverted
10,596
pounds of food produced
1,404,037
cubic feet of air improved
85,455.7
square feet of greenspace improved
34,929
kilowatt hours of energy saved

“I have been teaching the EcoRise curriculum for over five years now. It transformed my environmental studies class into a more hands-on, personal, and motivating classroom experience for my students. Through the EcoAudit Grant application process, my students have taken on more initiative, leadership, and responsibility when it comes to school and their role in the school.”  

—Teacher, Chelmsford High School, Chelmsford, MA

2020–2021 Eco-Audit Grant Projects

BMPV Garden Beds

Cafeteria Transformation

Chicken Coop + Feed and Water Station

Chicken Coop + Feed and Water Station

Cielo Vista Charter Eco-Store

Cielo Vista Charter Eco-Store

Outdoor Garden Seating

Outdoor Garden Seating

Reflowering the KHS Apiary

Reflowering the KHS Apiary

Water Bottles for All

Water Bottles for All

We Need Native Plants

We Need Native Plants

View All Projects

5th Grade Tigers: Streaming for Our Watershed! • Aquaducks • A Safe Place to Sit and Enjoy Nature • Blossoming Beauties at Roosevelt • BMPV Garden Beds • Butterfly Garden • Cafeteria Transformation • Caffeine Gardens • Chicken Coop • Chicken Coop • Chicken Coop Feed and Water Station • Chinese Evergreens for the Win! • Cielo Vista Charter Eco-Store • Cielo Vista Charter Education & Recycling Grant • Claude Pepper Elementary Garden • Clean Air at RYMS Library • Clear the Air and Get Hydrated • Collegiate Outdoor Learning Escape • Courtyard and Outdoor Learning Part 1 • Courtyard and Outdoor Learning Part 2 • Creating an Explorer Mindset in the Playhouse Area • Custom Wind Turbine • Defenders of the Sea • Eco-Audit Air Quality Video • Edible Gardening with Joy • Garden Project • Geaux Green: Capitol HS Greenhouse Classroom • Go Green! at Martin Middle School • Going Outside • Growing Back to Nature • Herbs for School! • Home Gardening Campaign • Hospitable Hydroponics • Hydroponics for More Fresh Food • Improving Air Quality by Ceiling Tile Restoration • Improving Our Air Quality • Indoor Garden • Keep It Pure! • Mat Police • Mental Health Project • Miami Sunset Campus Media Center Update • Miami Sunset Gymnasium Beautification • Our Garden Rocks! • Our Waste • Outdoor Classroom • Outdoor Garden Seating • Outdoor Wi-Fi Seating • Plants 4 Classrooms • Plants for Purity • Project Naturally SPHS • Project Refill • Public Spaces Garden • Purifying CHS • Rain Barrel • Reducing Plastic • Reducing Plastic for 7th and 8th Grade! • Reflowering the KHS Apiary • Refresh and Save the Planet • Reusable Water Bottles • Rooftop Garden • Save Some Water for the Fish • Save the Monarchs • Save the Tree • Saving the World One Sheet at a Time • SBMS Garden • Secret Garden • Serene Space • Stop and Smell the Roses • Stress Less at Miami Sunset Senior High • Study Time in the Miami Sunset High Library • Sub-Zero Cooler • Sunshine Club School Beautification Project • Take a Deep Breath, and Relax! • Teacher’s Kit • Tennis Court Tables Upgrade • The Need for Pollinators • The Science Outside “Living” Room • The Viking Garden at CW Harris ES • TMS Garden Refresh • Veggies for All! • Vermicomposting for Kinder Classrooms • Water Bottles for All • Wear & Recycle • We Love Our Playground and Want to Make It Better • We Need Native Plants! • We Need Soil & Amendments! • What Exactly Are We Throwing Away?

“I think the most important thing I learned was how important it is to protect our world. Learning about pollution, greenhouse gases, etc. has made me realize that I definitely want to pursue a career in the science field so I can help others protect our Earth for generations to come.”  

—EcoRise Student

“It only takes one person to start change. If everyone thinks that individual actions will not have consequences, nothing will ever get done; but once one person sets their mind to a goal, for example improving environmental health in a community, their actions will start to affect others and get more people involved.”  

—EcoRise Student

EcoRise Programs in the Media

Spotlight Partners

Supporting Partners

Program Collaborators

Austin Energy
Biomimicry Institute
BLGY Architecture
Captain Planet Foundation
Citizens Environmental Coalition
Dream in Green
Green Building Education Services
Green Schools National Network
gReenvision
iDialogue
Madison Gas and Electric

Math for America
National Wildlife Federation/Eco-Schools USA
North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
PepsiCo
San Mateo County Office of Education
Texas Association for Environmental Education (TAEE)
Texas Children in Nature
United States Green Building Council (USGBC)
University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture
USGBC Center for Green Schools

School District Partners

Austin Independent School District
District of Columbia Public Schools
New York City Department of Education
North East Independent School District
Sacramento City Unified School District
Tomball Independent School District

Community Support

1% for the Planet
Balcones Resources
Built Environment Plus
City of Austin Innovation Office
City of Austin Office of Sustainability
City of Houston Office of Sustainability
Salesforce

EcoRise is cultivating the next generation of resilient youth who are passionate about creating a more just and sustainable world for all.

In the face of adversity and the climate crisis, join us in harnessing the power and potential of young leaders by championing transformative K–12 sustainability education.