2020-2021 Environmental Literacy Program grants

In 2020-2021, NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Program awarded $4.4 million in support of 10 projects focused on building the environmental literacy necessary for community resilience to extreme weather, climate change, and other environmental hazards. 

Since 2015, NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Program grant competitions have supported the education of children, youth, and adults so they are knowledgeable of the ways in which their community can become more resilient to extreme weather events and climate change, and become involved in achieving that resilience. Many U.S. communities are simultaneously facing challenges recovering from extreme weather events and other environmental hazards and also transforming to prepare for a future of more frequent and damaging events, driven largely by climate change. These community resilience education grant projects enable and empower community members to protect themselves and their communities from these hazards. (See NOAA’s Community Resilience Education Theory of Change for more information on these relationships.)

Based on previous similar competitions in which there was extremely high demand for support of these types of projects, the 2020 competition was narrowed to solicit new projects from only half of the United States. Additionally, it was separated into two priorities. Priority 1 solicited new projects from the Southern and Western Regions of the United States. This priority received 189 pre-applications, and only 46 of the highest ranking applications were accepted for full review. The pre-applications were submitted from 21 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. Territories, with a total federal request of more than $77 million. Priority 2 solicited projects that had evolved from projects previously funded under the 2015-2016 funding opportunities from this program. This priority, which had a much smaller pool of potential applicants than Priority 1, received 10 applications from nine different states, with a total federal request of more than $4 million. 

Grantees were selected through rigorous peer review by a group of experts representing the fields of science education, resilience planning, and environmental justice, and included individuals from academia, community-based organizations, and informal science education institutions. Additional details of the competition are available in the Notice of  Funding Opportunity (NOAA-SEC-OED-2020-2006190). 

The projects funded in 2020 and 2021 support local efforts to build community resilience. The projects incorporate local and state resilience plans and create new partnerships between K-12 and informal education institutions and government and nonprofit organizations working on resilience planning and implementation. The most pertinent environmental hazards and climate-related stresses facing these communities are addressed by these projects, such as sea level rise, severe storms, flooding, and extreme heat. 

All projects use educational approaches that develop community-level environmental literacy to understand threats and implement solutions that build resilience to extreme weather, climate change, and other environmental hazards. Environmental literacy includes the knowledge, skills, and confidence to: 

  1. reason about the ways that human and natural systems interact globally and locally, including the acknowledgement of disproportionately distributed vulnerabilities; 
  2. participate in civic processes; and 
  3. incorporate scientific information, cultural knowledge, and diverse community values when taking action to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from environmental hazards, including mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The funded projects use a variety of educational approaches that serve different audiences: 

  • Students building skills and credentials to enter the school-to-resilience-related job pipeline
  • Educators and students working with planners to develop community-based resilience plans that protect vulnerable households and neighborhoods
  • Students engaging in culturally relevant problem-based learning and implementing resilience action projects
  • Underserved community members being empowered as environmental leaders and change agents 
  • Rural and tribal youth engaging in programs that develop their leadership skills and demonstrate best practices for students and teachers to engage and partner with local municipalities on resilience planning
  • Diverse coastal community members, whose social, economic, and cultural resources are threatened by sea level rise being educated and engaged through curricula, public forums, and innovative outreach strategies 
  • Teachers designing and implementing a mobile climate resilience exhibit that will travel to area schools 



In 2021, two new projects were awarded a total of approximately $900,000 in funding. These two projects will build the foundation for resilient communities in rural Montana and southcentral Alaska. 

University of Montana

ResilienceMT: Montana Rural and Tribal Community Resilience Exhibit and Forums    

Missoula, MT $449,495
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies Southcentral Alaska Collaborative for Resilience through Education and Decision-making (SACRED) Homer, AK $449,491


In 2020, eight projects received a total of approximately $3.5 million in funding. These selected projects are building the foundation for resilient communities through education in South Florida, Maine and northern Gulf of Mexico coastal communities, rural New York, and around the island of Maui, Hawaii. They are also working in the cities of NYC (NY), Austin and Houston (TX), and Richmond (VA).

EcoRise Youth Innovations Building a Green Texas: Activating a New Generation of Sustainability Leaders Austin, TX $450,00
Florida Atlantic University Climate Resilience Education and Action for Dedicated Youth Program (Climate READY Program) West Palm Beach, FL $449,903
Gulf of Maine Research Institute Community Resilience Informed by Science and Experience (C-RISE): Developing knowledge, skill, and relationships to build the capacity of rural coastal communities to plan for a resilient future Portland, ME $449,480
Mississippi State University Increasing Sea-Level Rise Resilience in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Mississippi State, MS $449,076
National Wildlife Federation The Resilient Schools Consortium Phase II: Connecting Schools to Coastal Communities  New York City, New York $450,000
Science Museum of Virginia Climate Resilience and Community-driven Action with a Hyperlocalized Public Forum in Richmond, VA Richmond, VA $307,685
The Wild Center Empowering Rural Youth for Community Climate Resilience in New York State Tupper Lake, NY $449,278
University of Hawaii Building Environmental Resiliency Leaders Kahului, HI $449,991

Funding amounts listed above are full federal award amounts for all years of the award. These ten projects are part of a growing community of practice of NOAA-funded community resilience education projects that includes nine projects funded in 2019, two projects funded in 2017, five projects in 2016, and six projects in 2015. For more details about the projects funded in 2020 and 2021, please visit the awards webpage.