Administrator Toolkit

Hello from the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI)!

We believe that we have a unique opportunity to empower and support today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders. As education administrators, you have answered a powerful calling—to prepare the people who will inherit the understanding and care of our world.

All across California, CAELI is collaborating with administrators like you. We see you as the passionate professionals you are, entrusted with society’s most valuable resource: our young people. We know you are committed to the growth and development of our young thinkers, scientists, artists, and leaders. We understand you have a multitude of responsibilities; we want to support you in ways that work for you and contribute to the success of your teachers and students.

CAELI Primer

Why Environmental Literacy?

By encouraging students to explore their local environments, administrators and teachers can embrace strategies that encourage hands-on investigation and discovery that can be applied to any subject area. Integrating environmental learning with core subjects helps meet standards-specific educational goals, and creates opportunities for all students to have impactful, meaningful learning experiences—without adding more work for you.

Environmental literacy engages students in critical thinking and helps teachers to teach and students to learn in ways that are relevant to their lives, communities, and the world around them.


Engaging, Standards-based Lessons for Teachers and Students

CAELI collaborates with state agencies, county offices of education, K–12 districts, and community-based partners to prepare California’s students for the future while building their skills in highly engaging settings. When the environment is used as a context for teaching core subjects, learning is more exciting, effective, and culturally relevant; this cultivates students’ understanding of issues that directly affect their lives. We collaborate with administrators like you who work day in and day out to give students the skills they need to deal with critical issues and prepare them for success in school, life, and career.

Together we can support students to become academically successful, engaged, environmentally conscious members of our society who are excited about learning, innovating, and working together to co-create solutions for our future.

CAELI Support Tools for Schools and Teachers:

  • Connection to resources and academic experts to support planning and implementation of districtwide Environmental Literacy Plans (ELP) that identify—and achieve—district goals
  • Resources for infusing environmental literacy into the K–12 curriculum that support mastery of state educational standards in equitable, engaging ways
  • Professional learning support from educators, scientists, curriculum and environmental experts

Talking Points & FAQ

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What is environmental literacy?

Environmental literacy is the capacity to act individually and with others to support ecologically sound, economically prosperous, and equitable communities for present and future generations. Through lived experiences and education programs that include classroom-based lessons, experiential education, and outdoor learning, students will become environmentally literate, developing the knowledge, skills, and understanding of environmental principles to analyze environmental issues and make informed decisions. (California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy)

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What is the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI)?

The California Environmental Literacy Initiative creates a system of support in California that enables all students to have local, standards- and environment-based experiences that enhance their learning in core subjects inside and outside of the classroom.

By bringing together existing resources, stakeholders, and expertise, CAELI creates collaborations, builds capacity, and transforms systems to increase their impact and sustainability. CAELI works to ensure that teachers have access to high-quality professional learning and instructional materials that address standards and support English language learners. We support professional development opportunities and outdoor education resources, so teachers can provide students with engaging environment-based educational experiences inside and outside the classroom.

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Why is K–12 environmental literacy important for your students?

Environmental literacy has the capacity to positively impact who students become and how they interact with their environment, their communities, and their world. It is a way to support all students in developing the knowledge, understanding, and opportunities that prepare them to meet challenges and fulfill their potential to imagine—and realize—a better world.

Environmental literacy is essential to the future of every student in California, and every student in California—inclusive of race, ethnicity, gender identity, ability, citizenship status, and socioeconomic status—deserves access to a high-quality K–12 education that cultivates environmental literacy.

Understanding our environment and human impact is crucial for our individual and collective wellbeing. Environmental literacy cultivates the skills students will need to deal with critical issues and supports their capacity for success in school, life, and career.

By focusing on environmental literacy, we prepare our youth to address environmental challenges like water and air pollution, increased fire risk, drought, and rising sea levels, so that they and future generations can thrive.

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How does CAELI help administrators implement environmental literacy in their schools?

We know that as an administrator you have a lot on your plate, and we want to make things easier for you. Environmental literacy integrates the environment with core subjects—supporting you, your schools, your teachers, and your students to meet learning goals and create opportunities for equitable student learning without adding an additional burden.

By encouraging students to explore their local environments, administrators and teachers can embrace strategies that best support student learning. We work with partners throughout California to help administrators accomplish this by providing access to high-quality professional learning experiences—sharing tools and resources that empower administrators and engage students to build key skills while mastering state standards.

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How does CAELI improve the learning environment?

We see the system of public education as capable of serving students, communities, and our society. We focus work at the district level to support administrators, subject matter experts, teachers, and students because that’s where change happens. We believe the school district holds space at the heart of community and is entrusted with our most valuable resource: our young people. We celebrate the victories of our partners and recognize the strength of a network working together.

We provide the tools to do things differently. We listen to the needs of the people and districts we serve to co-create environmental learning partnerships and experiences that are based in the communities and places where students live. We work with a generosity of spirit to support academic success and environmental literacy for all students, and prioritize equity by focusing resources on communities who have experienced historic, systemic, and continued barriers to accessing environmental literacy.

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Who does CAELI work with?

CAELI partners with state government, local education agencies, environmental education providers, community members, and funders to make environmental literacy a reality for all California’s K–12 students.

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How can teachers, parents and school administrators get involved?
  1. Visit ca-eli.org for information and helpful tools and resources.
  2. Discuss environmental literacy with your fellow educators, parents and school administrators using the talking points in this toolkit.
  3. Connect with local community-based organizations to work with your school.
  4. Contact CAELI: info@ca-eli.org

Email Outreach

Reach out to stakeholders in your area to express the importance of K–12 environmental literacy. We’ve created some sample email language here, but feel free to change it or tell your own story!

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To Community-based Organizations
  • We know how important it is for students to explore and understand their local environments. Incorporating environmental literacy into K–12 education is a key step toward raising tomorrow’s empowered leaders. I want to work with local organizations like yours to educate and inspire the students in our district.
  • CAELI collaborates with community-based organizations and the K–12 public school system to incorporate environmental learning that is locally based and culturally relevant into the regular school day—both inside the classroom and out.
  • Through partnerships, we can work collaboratively, inclusively, and impactfully to support California’s students by highlighting the interconnectedness of people and places through environmental literacy. Administrators, educators, students, and community partners working together are already identifying powerful new ways to collaborate and creating positive change.
  • Part of what contributes to the strength and resilience of communities is the intergenerational health and wellbeing of its people. In every community, there are leaders—including young people. To increase their opportunities for success, it’s crucial that we work together to provide them with relevant, engaging, real-world learning experiences that will support them in their future paths. Please join with me to help create these experiences our students.
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To Other Administrators
  • As a school leader, I have seen how important it is to provide students the opportunity to explore and learn in their local environments. Incorporating environmental literacy into K–12 education is a key step toward raising tomorrow’s empowered leaders.
  • As leaders in education, we are nurturing our most valuable resource: our young people. We share the goals of achieving meaningful, measurable outcomes for our students and communities.
  • CAELI collaborates with state agencies, county offices of education, community-based partners, and K–12 district leaders to prioritize real-world learning for students that is relevant to the places they live. I’d like to work together to incorporate environmental literacy into our district’s school sites.
  • Environmental literacy is an effective strategy to support the health of people and the planet. By focusing on environmental literacy, we strengthen core curricula by infusing it with an understanding of the interrelatedness of human and natural systems—preparing our youth to address critical environmental challenges, so that they, and future generations, can thrive.
  • Environmental literacy prioritizes including and engaging students of color in meaningful, culturally relevant ways, empowering them to achieve academic success and advocate for themselves, their communities, and the planet. CAELI works with districts to ensure that resources, partnerships, and support systems are focused on equity, and explicitly prioritize communities that have historically been excluded from participation in environmental learning.
  • Let’s work together to give our students high quality environmental education—CAELI will help us build connections and expand access to innovative educational resources, making environmental literacy a supportive and integral part of our students’ education.
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To Teachers
  • As an administrator and fellow educator, I know that your guidance and instruction results in meaningful, measurable outcomes for your students and our community. I believe it is important to support teachers so that they can give students the opportunity to explore and learn in their local environment.
  • As an educator in our school, you are nurturing our most valuable resource: our young people. Incorporating environmental literacy into K–12 education is a key step toward raising tomorrow’s empowered leaders.
  • CAELI collaborates with state agencies, county offices of education, community-based partners, and K–12 districts to prioritize real-world learning for students that is relevant to the places they live. I want to work with you and other teachers to incorporate environmental literacy  into our students’ educational experience.
  • Environmental literacy is an effective strategy to support the health of people and the planet. By focusing on environmental literacy, we strengthen core curricula by infusing it with an understanding of the interrelatedness of human and natural systems—preparing our youth to address critical environmental challenges, so that they, and future generations, can thrive.
  • Environmental literacy prioritizes including and engaging students of color in meaningful, culturally relevant ways, empowering them to achieve academic success and advocate for themselves, their communities, and the planet. CAELI works with districts to ensure that resources, partnerships, and support systems are focused on equity, and explicitly prioritize communities that have historically been excluded from participation in environmental learning.
  • Let’s work together to give our students high quality environmental education. CAELI will help us build connections between other schools and local community partners to expand access to innovative educational resources, making environmental literacy a supportive and integral part of our students’ education.
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To Parents & Guardians
  • As an administrator, I place a high value on family support and feedback. As a parent or guardian, you know how important it is for children to have time outdoors to explore and understand their local environment.
  • Incorporating environmental literacy into K–12 education is a key step toward raising tomorrow’s empowered leaders. Please join me in calling for environmental literacy in our schools.
  • CAELI collaborates with community-based organizations and the K–12 public school system to incorporate environmental learning that is locally based and culturally relevant into the regular school day—both inside the classroom and out.
  • By functioning as partners, community members and schools can work together to support our students by highlighting the interconnectedness of people and places. Educators, students, and community partners working together are already creating positive change, and continuing to identify powerful new ways to collaborate. You can help support and advance this work.
  • Part of what contributes to the strength and resilience of communities is the intergenerational health and wellbeing of its people. In every community, there are leaders—including young people. To increase their opportunities for success, our schools need to provide them with relevant, engaging, real-world learning experiences that will guide them into the next chapters of their lives. Please join me in supporting our schools to help create these experiences for them.

Social Media Messages

Use the following language and graphics to spread the word about the importance of K-12 environmental literacy.

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Facebook
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Twitter
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LinkedIn
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Instagram

Stories