As students, you have a critical and valuable role in co-creating the world we inhabit. Students all across the world are proposing solutions and demanding change. It is time for your voices and ideas to be heard and respected, and for every one of us to step up to meet the challenges we face, together.

Environmental literacy is an effective strategy to support the health of people and the planet. We understand that our world today is vastly different from that of previous generations. Access to university and career opportunities is tougher than ever. Resources for many communities—especially communities of color, rural communities, differently-abled people, and members of the LGBTQI+ community—are limited, and environmental justice issues present very real, tangible challenges to everyday life.

CAELI supports students by understanding that success isn’t based solely on test scores. Schools have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to teach so much more in addition to math, language arts, history, and science. They can, and should, teach you how to harness your unique abilities, passions, and talents to become stronger leaders—the kind of leaders who can and will contribute to a more just, sustainable society. Understanding our environment, and our reliance and interconnection to it, not only values people and place: it is also an effective way to learn many other subjects.

We work with K–12 teachers and community organizations to incorporate unique, hands-on environmental learning opportunities for students into everyday lessons. We believe California’s public school system can, and should, provide engaging, challenging, relevant learning experiences that empower students like you to succeed, and encourage your ability to contribute as co-creators of the world we share. By helping educators incorporate environmental literacy into core curricula, we seek to support you in your growth into adults who are knowledgeable, creative, skilled, and prepared to succeed and thrive in your chosen pathways.

Spread the Word!

Your voice is a powerful tool in getting the word out about the California Environmental Literacy Initiative.

If you have an environmental literacy story to tell, please share it with us!

“I have yet to meet a student who knows about these issues and is not motivated to act. I challenge everyone here to involve and engage youth in everything you do. I don’t know what climate challenges are coming. But I do know that if you give us a chance, my generation can solve them.”

Eleanor Huang, High School Student & Youth Leader

"For education to be effective, it must be relevant to what students are going through in their daily lives. Often, this is related to climate and other environmental issues. If they are able to understand that these local issues are affecting them and the people they care about, they will be able to connect it to larger, global issues. This creates a better understanding of what is happening in our world, and makes it easier for young people to find solutions to the issues they’re concerned about."

Max Jimenez, Climate Corps Education Outside Fellow, Strategic Energy Innovations

"I believe that the only way to keep California from burning, to keep Antarctica from melting, to keep the Amazon from shrinking, to keep the Middle East from being parched dry from any water is to accept that we are not separate from our world, we are a part of it. With this knowledge, we may be able to cultivate not only a thriving ecosystem, but a better world."

Lucia Garay, environmental justice advocate

“We need to empower our youth to create change in the world. When students build personal connections to nature, they benefit emotionally, academically, and physically. And they in turn will be of enormous benefit to society. CAELI is working to ensure all students have opportunities to build connection to nature and the skills to become environmentally literate. Our county is behind this work 100%.”

Amity Sandage, Environmental Literacy Coordinator, Santa Cruz County Office of Education

"As a social studies educator for the past 25 years, and a former California instructional quality commissioner, one thing was made perfectly clear in my work to empower our youth: You can’t be truly environmentally literate if you don’t engage civically, and you can’t be truly civically literate if you don’t engage with environmental issues."

Jose Flores, Civics and Environmental Advisor, Comite Civico del Valle