Looking Forward to the Year Ahead

The change of a calendar year offers a great opportunity to take stock of where we have been and to look forward to where we are headed next. In that spirit, CAELI’s new project director, Andra Yeghoian, captures a reflection on the first half of the 2022-23 CAELI season and looks forward to hopes and opportunities for the rest of the season.

Fall 2022’s Continuous Improvement to CAELI’s Collective Action Model

The Fall of 2022 brought a few significant leadership changes for CAELI, including Juanita Chan-Roden taking over as co-chair alongside Craig Strang (who has served in a co-chair capacity since 2016), as well as myself taking over the CAELI project director position from Karen Cowe, who had been managing CAELI since 2016 when it was called the Environmental Literacy Steering Committee. These leadership changes and the implementation of the new CAELI Theory of Action brought an opportunity to assess and further evolve CAELI’s collective action model.

Since the fall of 2021, CAELI’s Leadership Council has been piloting a new collective action structure with members organized into Innovation Hubs that function as project incubators for catalyzing change. While many Innovation Hubs were able to successfully pilot different working group projects in that first year, Innovation Hub co-leads identified several ways that they could use more support to accelerate the pace and scale of innovation and change.

Utilizing design thinking strategies, the CAELI project director and Ten Strands staff worked with the CAELI co-chairs and Innovation Hub co-leads to develop different types of support to help Innovation Hubs further their progress. Examples of this include the following:

Additional support included clarity on the CAELI season following the academic calendar (i.e., 2021-22, 2022-23) and clarity on the budget and funding available to Innovation Hub working groups. Furthermore, the first two CAELI quarterly sessions and the Executive Committee meetings centered around supporting Innovation Hub co-leads to finalize and begin implementing effective work plans for the 2022-23 CAELI season.

Looking Forward to the Second Half of 2022-23

The second half of 2022-23 is a time for Innovation Hubs to make significant strides in their working group projects. A common theme of the 2022-23 working group projects is landscape-style projects, which center around gathering and analyzing foundational data for understanding systems change from various perspectives. Other common themes for working group projects include concepts related to communication, networking, and capacity-building. For example, several Hubs have begun to organize more effectively around elevating the relevance of environmental literacy at various conferences, and other Hubs have launched webinar series, communities of practice, and training programs that seek to bring in and build the capacity of more leaders across the state. A summary of each Innovation Hub and working group efforts can be found on the CAELI Innovation Hub webpage and in this brief CAELI Innovation Hub Snapshot.

In addition to continuing efforts on Innovation Hub working group projects, the second half of 2022-23 will be dedicated to diving deeper into conversations and collaborations that deepen CAELI’s emphasis and commitment to long-lasting systems change grounded in equity-based practices. This requires finalizing a comprehensive set of metrics to help obtain quantitative and qualitative data that measures CAELI’s progress and impact.

There is much to look forward to in the second half of 2022-23, and CAELI leadership remains grateful for the ongoing commitment that CAELI members have to this complex collective action effort that seeks to advance environmental literacy in California for ALL students.