“Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don't need a diploma to plant a tree.” ― Wangari Maathai, first African Woman to win Nobel Prize, taken from Unbowed: A Memoir
Why Environmental Literacy?
Spending quality time outdoors can lead to a variety of positive outcomes for students and adults. Meaningful time in nature has been proven to increase students' creativity, generosity, civic attitudes and behavior, as well as improve school attendance and even standardized test scores. Studies have also demonstrated nature's ability to decrease stress and depression, lessen the symptoms of ADHD, lower anxiety, and improve overall immune system functionality. Our students have a right to a public education that grants access to these benefits by providing time to study, explore, and fall in love with the outdoors. (Stanford)
The future prosperity, health, and safety of our communities rests upon the future generation's ability to make wise environmental choices and fight for equitable environmental policies. As our nation begins to address climate change and energy use, depletion of natural and renewable resources, and the preservation of America's natural areas, we need community leaders with environmental knowledge, skill, and passion to spearhead this work. Our students have a right to a public education that develops the skills necessary to understand, analyze, address existing and future environmental issues in our communities. (Economist)
Protecting and preserving our environment is a social justice issue. In the United States, people of color are exposed to more pollution than their white peers. In February 2018, the National Center for Environmental Assessment released a report which confirmed that “black people are exposed to about 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people, and that Hispanics had about 1.2 times the exposure of non-Hispanic whites.” (Atlantic) Similarly, a 2016 study conducted by the city of Los Angeles revealed the inequitable and racist structuring of its current public park system: 82% of the areas labeled "park poor" due to their limited access public natural areas were located in communities of color (Advancement Project). Our students have a right to a public education that enables them to dismantle the environmental injustices that perpetuate the marginalization and disenfranchisement of historically oppressed communities in the United States.
As an organization serving 95% students of color, the KIPP STE community is committed to being a part of the solution. We need to join in the fight for a future that is sustainable, healthy, and prosperous for all. During the 2018-2019 school year, KIPP Foundation brought together teachers and leaders from 9 regions to form the first ever KIPP Environmental Literacy Task Force. With support from the Pisces Foundation and UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, this group of 35 individuals worked throughout the year to develop KIPP Foundation’s recommendations for Environmental Literacy as well as their own regional action plans for the 2019-2020 school year. This Blueprint is the result of this group’s work, and we hope it can serve as a useful tool in each of KIPP’s 32 regions as we journey to achieve environmental literacy and justice for all.
Ready to learn more? Select one of the links below to dive into the Blueprint.
Huge gratitude to the following KIPP partners and regions who made this KIPP Blueprint possible: