Dear EcoRise community,

My name is Octavia Wolf and I am an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador in Washington, DC. I have used the EcoRise curriculum to provide my students with experiential, equity-focused environmental education over the past few years. EcoRise projects have enabled many of my students to see themselves as scientists, environmentalists, and climate change leaders and have truly allowed them to connect with passions, interests, and hobbies that they were not familiar with before.

As a teacher in an urban Title I school, funding for labs, projects, and science lessons used to come directly from my pocket. This limited the quality of the experiences I could provide to my students, and consequentially, their own potential as future STEM leaders of America. It is an unspoken fact that lackluster science education, lack of exposure to real-world application, and the prohibitive cost of materials for science labs and lessons are some of the greatest barriers for children of color to see themselves as scientists, environmentalists, and engineers. When I think about the seed that EcoRise plants in the hearts and minds of these students, I am reminded of a quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson that I heard upon being exposed to the Hayden Planetarium’s night sky as a nine-year-old student on a field trip:

β€œβ€¦I was pretty convinced that it was a hoax – that it couldn’t be the case! I know how many stars there were, because I’d seen them from the Bronx, New York, where I’d grown up. Which was the real sky, the thousand-star-studded sky of the dome, or the sky I recognized? That conflict got me started.”

For many students of color in America, the idea of a future career as a civic engineer, a climatologist, or a biologist seems like a hoax. Participating in powerful discussions, activities, lessons, and making a meaningful change in their own homes and communities allows students to challenge the negative assumptions and see their own potential for the first time. While many programs talk the talk about environmental justice, EcoRise walks the walk and empowers children of color to rethink, redesign, and reclaim the spaces where they live and go to school.

I am eternally grateful for EcoRise and all they have done for my students and hundreds of thousands of students across this country. Donors like you allow EcoRise to support teachers like me, so we can plant the seeds of knowledge, one lesson at a time. Today, EcoRise is 83% of the way to meeting their $35,000 fundraising for the year. If you are still on the fence, I invite you to donate to support teachers and classrooms like mine knowing that now through December 31st your donation will be doubled thanks to the Leadership Circle Matching Fund.

Thank you for your support. Together, #WeRise!

Octavia Wolf
5th Grade Teacher
West Elementary School, Washington, DC