I remember when EcoRise (as UpLift Austin) launched our first program at a charter school in East Austin. It was the fall of 2008. A passionate, young science teacher and an open-minded principal generously gave us the green light to test the waters with one high school classroom. We introduced the basics of environmental literacy and healthy, green schools and the students leapt into action to design projects for their campus.
In those fledgling years, making a case for sustainability education was a hard sell to schools and funders. It simply wasn’t a priority, if even a concept.
Twelve years later, the tides are finally turning. With each superstorm and wildfire, the climate crisis is coming into focus as a palpable and urgent threat. Public awareness of the impacts of climate change has skyrocketed over the last few years, with 84% of parents now supporting climate change instruction in their children’s schools. Millions of young people have organized on a global scale, becoming our most powerful and effective leaders in the movement.
It is amid this momentum that we are thrilled to share Gen:Thrive, a collaborative initiative that provides data visualization and insights needed to scale sustainability education to reach every classroom. For the last two years, we have been working on the Gen:Thrive mission, collaborating to identify how we can bring stakeholders who are interested in sustainability education together and create a scalable model that schools, service providers, and funders can use to maximize our collective impact.
While EcoRise proudly serves more than 4,000 educators across the U.S., we recognize that systemic change requires the unique strengths and collective efforts of diverse organizations working to advance sustainability education. Gen:Thrive serves to coordinate the efforts of thousands of service providers so that together, we can expand our offerings and ensure that every student cultivates the ethos, knowledge, and skills to build healthy, just, thriving communities.
Currently in Texas, and soon expanding to additional states, Gen:Thrive provides a robust Climate, Equity & Education Map as well as a Field Trends and Resource Directory. These tools give educators and service providers the ability to:
- Explore connections between schools, climate risks, equity, environmental justice, health, and green jobs;
- Search, filter, and pull reports from a comprehensive directory of K–12 sustainability resources; and
- Identify trends, gaps, and partnership opportunities among program providers.
A core value of EcoRise is comradery, and this value is at the heart of Gen:Thrive. We are grateful for the hundreds of organizations that have contributed data and input, as well as the enormous technology support from the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT Austin. We are also deeply thankful for philanthropic partners that have made these tools possible including the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, the Environmental Fund of Texas, the Pisces Foundation, and Target.
With the unique strengths and contributions of each of us, we can build a new and better world. Our hope is that Gen:Thrive can serve as a compass as we navigate toward this shared vision.
With fresh hope and endless gratitude~
Founder, President & Chief Innovation Officer