Family Toolkit

Hello from the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI)!

We believe that we have a unique opportunity to empower and support all of our young people. As parents and guardians, you have a powerful calling—to nurture and guide the children in your care, while shifting the systems in our society that support their survival and success.

All across California, CAELI is collaborating with administrators, teachers, community organizations, and families like yours. We know you are committed to the growth and development of young thinkers, scientists, artists, and visionaries. We want to work together to create meaningful learning experiences for students, supporting you in ways that work for you and contribute to the success of the young people in your care.

CAELI Primer

Why Environmental Literacy?

Environmental literacy engages students in critical thinking and helps them learn in ways that are relevant to their lives, communities, and the world around them. Learning by exploring their local environments encourages students to consider how their core-subject lessons apply to the bigger picture. Integrating environmental learning with core subjects helps teachers and students meet standards-based educational goals, and creates opportunities for all students to have impactful, meaningful learning experiences rooted in their local places.


Engaging Lessons for 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 through interaction with their local environments. 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 work in partnership with others to give students the skills they need to deal with critical issues and prepare them for success in school, life, and career.

With support from families like yours—inclusive of all the many meanings of family, both traditional and unique—we can raise a new generation of successful, conscious leaders who are excited about learning, innovating, and working together to create solutions for our future.

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.

CAELI creates community-wide collaborations and supports teachers by providing access to high-quality professional learning and instructional materials that address standards and support English language learners. CAELI supports professional development opportunities and outdoor education resources, so educators 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 the students in your family?

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 your 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 the students in your family 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 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 families get involved?
  1. Visit caeli.org for information and helpful tools and resources.
  2. Discuss environmental literacy with the educators, parents and school administrators in your community 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
  • I know how important it is for kids 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 support local organizations like yours in partnering with my student’s teachers and school to educate and inspire students.
  • 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 working as partners, community organizations and school districts can work collaboratively and inclusively to support California’s students by highlighting the interconnectedness of people and places through environmental literacy.
  • Educators, students, and community partners working together are already creating positive change, and continuing to identify powerful new ways to collaborate. Your organization has so much to add to 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, it’s crucial that we provide them with relevant, engaging, real-world learning experiences that will guide them into the next chapters of their lives. Please consider working with our local schools to help create these experiences for them.
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To Administrators and Teachers
  • I know how important it is for students to explore and appreciate their local environments. Incorporating environmental literacy into K–12 education is a key step toward raising tomorrow’s empowered leaders. As a leaders and educators, you are nurturing our most valuable resource: our young people. I know that your work results in meaningful, measurable outcomes for students and our community.
  • 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 support you working with CAELI to incorporate environmental literacy  into my student’s 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 you build connections between schools and local community partners to expand access to innovative educational resources, making environmental literacy a supportive and integral part of every student’s education.
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To Other Families
  • We know how important it is for our 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. Let’s join together in supporting 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 working as partners, we can work with community organizations and school districts to collaboratively and inclusively support California’s students by highlighting the interconnectedness of people and places through environmental literacy.
  • Educators, students, and community partners working together are already creating positive change, and continuing to identify powerful new ways to collaborate. We 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, it’s crucial that our schools 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 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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Instagram

Stories

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