Use the filter menu and interactive map to explore the past competitions offered and grants awarded through the Environmental Literacy Program.
To learn more about project findings and outcomes, view the summaries of our grantees’ summative evaluation reports.
Brockton Kids Lead the Way: Enhancing Stewardship and Climate Resilience through Outdoor Education
Manomet will use NOAA funding to boost climate resilience and environmental stewardship in Brockton, Massachusetts, an incredibly diverse but impoverished city and designated Environmental Justice community with a rich history. Brockton is highly vulnerable to flooding, pollution, and water supply disruptions related to climate change. Brockton is also a city with a long history of resilience in the face of economic challenges and a thirst for empowerment and opportunity. Brockton schools were hard-hit by COVID-19, and are facing a critical need for support, resources, and academic enrichment. Manomet believes education is one of the best tools to create long-term change. By increasing access to nature, encouraging students to become environmental stewards through outdoor learning, and building climate resilience literacy, Manomet aims to empower the next generation of conservationists to help solve today’s complex challenges. In partnership with Wildlands Trust, Connecticut Sea Grant, and TERC, Manomet will: 1) develop environmental stewardship by creating outdoor learning spaces on school grounds and providing teachers with curricular tools and training for use; 2) empower elementary students and teachers through outdoor environmental education, engaging in stewardship action to build green infrastructure, and civic engagement, and; 3) build climate resilience literacy in elementary school children, teachers, and community members through education, civic engagement, and collaboration. Brockton Kids Lead the Way envisions elementary students and their teachers as community leaders and ambassadors for environmental stewardship, during a time of increased civic investment and interest across Brockton in green spaces, public health, and community resilience.
Climate Youth Labs (CY-Labs): Elevating Youth Voices to Promote Climate Resiliency
Minnesota and Wisconsin communities are facing multiple climate hazards including wildfires, drought, pollution, severe storms, flooding, health emergencies, and habitat and species loss. To build a robust youth component to state climate resiliency efforts, the Climate Youth Labs (CY-Labs) project will support place-based learning about climate resiliency with 120+ middle school youth using NOAA assets and elevate their voices through a national public media podcast series for youth. American Public Media and PBS Learning Media will air podcasts, inspiring more youth to create their own climate resiliency solutions. Partners include Twin Cities PBS; the University of Wisconsin-Superior; the University of Minnesota’s Hennepin County 4-H program in Minneapolis; Native Sun’s Solar Cub program at the K-6 Ojibwe-language school in the Red Lake Nation, MN; and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Rooted in youth empowerment and culturally responsive teaching, CY-Labs will elevate the voices of youth (ages 11-15) as they explore barriers to climate justice. The podcast programs will involve 20 youth at 4-H programs in Minneapolis serving primarily Black youth, 25 Indigenous youth from the Red Lake Nation, and 75 youth from the Northern Waters Environmental school in Hayward, WI (with 25% Ojibwe youth from the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation), the Superior Middle School and Northwestern Middle School in Maple, WI. Educators will learn to use NOAA educational resources including Climate.gov, Teaching Climate, the Global Climate Dashboard, Climate Explorer and the U.S Climate Resilience Toolkit to help youth learn about climate change. Educators will help youth ensure the resiliency and protection of their communities in the face of climate hazards, create meaningful change within their communities, and advocate for climate resiliency solutions aligned with state resiliency plans. CY-Labs draws on recent research that shows that effective climate change education programs are personally relevant, encourage discussion to navigate controversial issues, engage in the scientific process, address misconceptions, and incorporate youth action projects. At the annual Youth Climate Justice Summit in St. Paul, MN and at Superior Days in Madison, WI students will share their solutions with state legislators. Program collaborators include Climate Generation, the Lake Superior Research Institute, NOAA’s Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, the MN Governor’s Climate Change Subcabinet, the MN House Climate Caucus; the WI Governor’s Climate Change Taskforce, the City of Superior Mayor’s Office, FEMA’s MN and WI State Mitigation Hazard Officers, and TPT NOW, a partnership between PBS, public health agencies and NOAA weather forecasters. Project advisors include: Frank Niepold, NOAA Climate Education Program Manager; Anne Gold, Director of Education & Outreach, NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences; Jen Kretser, Director of Climate Initiatives, The Wild Center; Jothsna Harris, Change Narrative; Dr. Michael Notaro, NOAA Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments; Dr. Chris Tessum, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Capitol Climate Connection podcasters Patti Acomb and Jamie Long; City Climate Corner podcaster Larry Kraft; Brains On! podcast producers Molly Bloom, Sanden Totten and Marc Sanchez; and Dr. Lisa Gardiner, John Ristvey, Keliann LaConte and Becca Hatheway, UCAR. The evaluator is Dr. Lauren M. Shea.
Climate Resilient Flint: Building Community-Driven Climate Resilience through Hyperlocal Science-to-Civics Learning
Climate Resilient Flint seeks to develop climate resilience literacy in Flint, Michigan through neighborhood placemaking projects and green workforce education and training. High urban blight and low climate literacy are expected to leave many of the city’s residents susceptible to anticipated rises in regional summer temperatures and heavy precipitation events. Building on evidence illustrating that social cohesion, education, and a sense of place are key factors in communities’ abilities to adapt to outside shocks or stressors, this project aims to foster climate resilience by engaging underserved and vulnerable neighborhoods in a three-year science-to-civics learning program. Priority neighborhoods will participate in organized deliberative forums to discuss regional climate changes and local impacts before developing plans to repurpose vacant neighborhood lots into spaces that use passive cooling and stormwater management strategies to reduce vulnerability to heat and precipitation. As community members become aware of the connections among climate impacts, climate resilience, and community wellbeing, they will develop the knowledge to further their civic engagement in local social, sustainability, environmental, and climate issues. Additionally, Climate Resilient Flint will develop and teach an environmental literacy and job readiness curriculum for returning citizens with barriers to employment. The Empowerment Through Innovation and Knowledge (EPIK) education program will help participants build a holistic job-seeker profile by complimenting hands-on learning of green infrastructure skills with place-based environmental literacy education embedded within local and regional climate contexts. Through the EPIK curriculum, participants will develop the skills and credentials to advance their competitiveness in Michigan’s green infrastructure job market. With the goal of reducing differential access to education, knowledge, and resources, this project reflects NOAA’s education mission to further equitable environmental literacy and climate resilience capacity by employing active learning and knowledge co-production. Climate Resilient Flint is a collaborative effort between Kettering University, Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint, M.A.D.E. Institute, Neighborhood Engagement Hub, Genesee Conservation District, and NOAA’s Office of Education and Climate Program Office.
Participatory Education in Faith Communities for Climate Resilience
Creation Justice Ministries is partnering with Interfaith Power & Light chapters in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina on the project “Participatory Education in Faith Communities for Climate Resilience.” Coastal faith communities can be key assets to building resilience in their communities, but often do not have the resources or investment from resilience agencies to build the necessary environmental literacy. The goal of this project is to create networks of faith communities that are educated on the realities of climate change and able to serve as hubs of social and physical resilience for their communities – helping them better weather the physical, social, and spiritual storms of the climate crisis. This project will engage faith communities in social learning on the connections between their experience of extreme weather and the science of climate change; facilitate a series of workshops in which faith communities engage with local scientists, planners, and decision-makers around climate resilience to extreme weather and climate change; and guide congregations through a resilience implementation and educational project. The project team will work with predominantly Black, Indigenous, and other faith communities of color in Mathews County, VA, Wicomico County, MD, and Beaufort and Pamlico Counties, NC. The outcomes of this project are (1) increased social cohesion and networks of accountability between local faith communities, planners, and decision-makers, (2) faith community members educated with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reason about the interaction of human and natural systems globally and locally, with a specific focus on the inequities of climate change vulnerabilities, (3) faith community members empowered and prepared to educate their communities about climate impacts, participate in civic processes around climate adaptation, mitigation, and resilience, and serve as trusted community leaders when climate disasters occur, and (4) congregations with the infrastructure to continue integrating resilience and climate change education in the life of their church and local community. This project is integrally connected to NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship. By intersecting the service- and stewardship-oriented work of faith communities with the science of resilience agencies and local universities, members of faith communities can be more resilient and adaptive to the risks and hazards associated with climate change. Other project partners include NOAA Regional Climate Services Center, NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program, North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resilience, Mathews County Board of Supervisors, Maryland CoastSmart Communities, Duke University Marine Lab’s (DUML) Community Science Initiative, Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of Maryland, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (William & Mary).
Nothing Without Us: Building Environmental Literacy, Resilience, and Sustainability in DC through a Multi-Partner, Community-Led Approach
The FH Faunteroy Community Enrichment Center will lead intergenerational efforts to build climate resilience and address complex environmental problems with Ward 7 residents through a model built on self-determination and collaboration with public and private partners. The project’s geographic focus is on Ward 7, home to not only the majority of single-family homes in Washington, DC’s 100-year floodplain, but also a predominantly Black population that faces increased climate vulnerability due to socio-economic stressors and legacies of systemic racism. The Ward 7 Resilience Hub Community Committee is the lead project partner, with collaborators including the DC Department of Energy and Environment, Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown University Law Center, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, and additional support from NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program. Project goals, centered around Ward 7 residents, are to: (1) reshape workforce development programs and initiatives; (2) increase environmental literacy and civic participation; and (3) create community-driven decision-making processes and structures that guide the development of resilience hubs in the District. The full project title is “Nothing Without Us: Building Environmental Literacy, Resilience, and Sustainability in DC through a Multi-Partner, Community-Led Approach.” Activities will include workforce development programming, environmental education, and convenings for and with the partner organizations to develop promising practices for community resilience hubs. This collaboration will build a climate-ready workforce among Ward 7 residents, support community action and advocacy, and position residents to be leaders in the implementation of the District’s sustainability and climate plans, including Climate Ready DC, Resilient DC, and Sustainable DC 2.0.
Nos Quedamos: Youth-led Activation of Community Climate Resiliency Hubs in Melrose Commons
WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, Inc. (NQ) is a leader in community-driven, sustainable development in Melrose Commons, a historically marginalized and disinvested community in the South Bronx, NY. Building on our 30-year history of organizing and advocacy for the preservation of open space, environmental health, and social justice, NQ’s NOAA Environmental Literacy Program will empower local youth leaders and organizers to educate and engage their peers, family members, and neighbors in preparation for the effective activation of three Climate Resiliency Hubs (blue/green infrastructure projects currently in development at local Melrose community garden sites). During disturbances, these Hubs will act as community-led crisis coordinating centers, providing access to freshwater and resources such as food, charging stations, and other necessities. In non-crisis times, the Hubs will be centers for community power-building, where residents gain the tools to advocate for long-term climate justice goals. This NOAA-funded program will develop the data, knowledge, talking points, and civic engagement roadmaps required to increase resident involvement in the effective implementation of the Climate Resiliency Hubs and, with support from our project partners at the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, strengthen community activism and advocacy to ensure that the Hubs provide the greatest possible impact for the community. Our first objective is to increase NQ’s capacity through research and analysis. An Environmental Literacy Program Manager, Climate Resiliency Research Fellow, and 2 Environmental Literacy Youth Leaders will gather and analyze data to support the development and sustainability of NQ’s Climate Resiliency Hubs, to be used for city- and state-level advocacy around climate preparedness policy changes and climate-resilience related funding allocations. The program’s second objective is to improve environmental literacy in the South Bronx community and strengthen organizing and advocacy efforts. Through deep training, the Environmental Literacy Youth Leaders and NQ’s larger cohort of youth organizers will be prepared to conduct community education activities for Melrose residents on key environmental justice indicators and data points. The education content will be integrated into NQ’s roster of public events, such as garden walking tours, festivals, community discussions, etc. The program will conclude with a South Bronx Climate Resiliency Symposium to further galvanize residents and lay the groundwork for continued resilience planning and policy advocacy in the South Bronx. As a result of this program, NQ will build a more confident, engaged, and environmentally literate Melrose Commons that will champion climate resilience throughout the South Bronx.
Newark Resilient Solar Initiative
Solar One and The Newark Office of Sustainability are launching the Newark Resilient Solar Initiative, which utilizes the construction and deployment of resilient solar systems as a catalyst for education—both in the classroom and in the most vulnerable communities in Newark. The Initiative responds to the need for high quality career and technical education and work-based learning opportunities in Newark Public Schools and community engagement around climate resilience for people in low-income, largely immigrant, and predominantly Black and Latino communities in Newark who are highly vulnerable to flooding and extreme heat. Resilient solar systems, including solar plus battery storage, build community resilience to climate hazards by enabling Newarkers to access electricity during a power outage. The systems will be housed at accessible locations such as community gardens and are built by up to 52 Newark high school interns who receive solar workforce training, strengthening their career readiness and leadership skills. Each resilient solar system is unveiled at a community engagement event that features NOAA assets to build collective environmental literacy, emergency preparedness, and social cohesion in alignment with local resilience goals—reaching up to 200 community members. In addition, The Initiative trains 9 teachers and 800 Newark Public School students in climate literacy and solar workforce training, which can jumpstart a lifelong career in renewable energy, a field with high income potential. The Initiative is guided by an advisory committee composed of community members, community-based organization partners, and environmental justice leaders.
HEARTForce: Resilient Colorado
Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, and drought. Low-income housing neighborhoods and vulnerable community members in under-resourced rural areas are often disproportionately impacted by these hazards. With the rise in hazardous events across the state under a changing climate, there is a pressing need for communities to become more resilient through better preparation and planning. The Hazard Education, Awareness and Resilience Task Force (HEART Force) program, facilitated by the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach group at CU Boulder, empowers rural secondary students and teachers to act as the change agents to build community resilience against natural hazards. With continued funding, we will continue to support teachers statewide to implement HEART Force curriculum, a place-based curriculum that uses authentic data sources, scenario-based role-play games and the Earth Force process to inspire civic action. We will also be supporting four classrooms across Colorado to go deeper with the curriculum through a quarter or semester-long elective course, by selecting a vulnerable neighborhood to partner with and planning action steps together with more support from CIRES staff, community partners, and local emergency managers.
Building Heat Resilience in Southwestern Virginia through Education
Of all weather-related disasters, heat waves cause the most deaths every year in the United States and climate change is already increasing their frequency, duration, and intensity. In urban areas, heat exposure and risk are highly related to the built environment and the everyday lived experiences of urban residents. Building heat resilience—the capacity for communities to adapt to and cope with higher temperatures and heat waves—therefore necessitates a comprehensive and place-based approach that includes education about the factors affecting risk and vulnerability, consequences of heat on health and livability, as well as potential long-term and short-term actions that residents can take to reduce risk and vulnerability. In this project, we will promote environmental literacy and strengthen climate resilience in Southwest Virginia by building a cross-sector urban heat resilience environmental literacy network that includes: the public education system, students and families, community health professionals, and City government. The project is led by Carilion Clinic in partnership with Virginia Tech, Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action, and Roanoke City Government. Through these partnerships, we will build resilience pathways for dealing with long-term higher temperatures and emergency heatwaves using combined urban planning and public health approaches. We will extend and expand Virginia Tech’s previous engagement with Roanoke youth (2-week summer STEM and Heat Resilience summer school program for middle school students) to involve the community more broadly to co-produce neighborhood-specific heat mitigation plans that address resident concerns in Roanoke and improve environmental literacy around the problem of urban heat as both an acute and chronic issue. We will work with teachers and administrators in the Roanoke City Public School system to institutionalize the STEM/urban planning-based curriculum we develop so that more children can benefit from it. Using youth education as an entry to engage the broader community, we will also host a family-based STEM-Urban Planning Family Summit, which will inform residents about urban planning processes and how changes to urban landscapes can make neighborhoods cooler, more comfortable, and more resilient to rising temperatures. We will also build capacity among health professionals and integrate them into community planning by: educating and enlisting the support of health professionals and Carilion’s community outreach network to work with community groups and families; engaging three Carilion clinicians to participate in an eight-hour educational training to learn more about impacts of climate and health in the region and provide tools for educating other clinicians and community; and training Carilion’s 37 Community Health Educators and Community Health Workers and developing community education/outreach materials on climate change impacts on health with a focus on heat illness. The urban planning and public health components to increasing heat resilience will come together in a culminating Heat Resilience Fair, at which participants in our program (students, families, residents, clinicians, health workers, and City government officials) will present ideas and solicit feedback from the broader community. The solicited ideas will be incorporated into the City’s planning processes, enabling formalization of long-term goals for public health and the built environment with respect to rising temperatures.
AMS/NOAA Cooperative Program for Earth System Education (CPESE)
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) work together to share knowledge and information about weather and climate, ocean, and coasts with educators and students across the country. The goal of this effort is to build a scientifically informed and engaged society and a diverse STEM workforce prepared to respond to environmental hazards. AMS facilitates a national offering of the DataStreme Atmosphere and DataStreme Ocean courses and supports Project ATMOSPHERE leadership training workshops at the National Weather Service Training Center for in-service K-12 educators, with focus on those at schools with considerable numbers of students underrepresented in STEM. By 2023, about 2,100 educators will earn graduate credits through a partnership with California University of Pennsylvania and become confident Earth science educators. These educators are expected to impact more than 20,000 additional educators and several hundred thousand K-12 students.
Citizen Science, Civics, and Resilient Communities (CSCRC)
The "Citizen Science, Civics, and Resilient Communities" (CSCRC) education project led by the Museum of Science, Boston in partnership with Arizona State University and Northeastern University will increase resilience to extreme weather and environmental hazards through citizen-created data, local knowledge, and community values. Building upon previous funding from NOAA in which a set of modules were created and used to engage participants in active learning and resilience planning about four natural hazards (heat waves, sea level rise, extreme precipitation, and drought), the museum and its partners will add participatory citizen science activities selected in close collaboration with resilience planners. This new and expanded project will involve diverse groups of participants at 28 U.S. science centers collecting, analyzing, and sharing data relevant to local resilience planners, learning about vulnerabilities through visualizations of geospatial data and deliberative problem-solving, sharing perspectives about resilience strategies and their societal and environmental trade-offs, formulating community resilience plans, and presenting findings and recommendations to resilience planners and publics. The project aims to formulate a theory of action that sustains engagement and increases environmental literacy among participants, contributes citizen-created data, knowledge, and values to resilience planning, and increases capacity among science centers for including publics in resilience planning and data collection.
Resilience from the Youth Up
As climate impacts ratchet up across the United States, the Great Lakes region tends to fly under the national radar. While the Great Lakes do not experience hurricanes, rising sea levels, or large-scale wildfires, the local climate has become increasingly erratic in recent years. The region, however, is one of the most unprepared in the country to cope with these impacts. A recent Grosvenor report (2014) on climate resilience among 50 global cities ranked Detroit last among 11 U.S. cities for adaptability and only better than three cities for overall resilience, which incorporates both climate vulnerability and adaptability factors. Of U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents, Detroit has the highest percentage of African-American residents (80.7%, U.S. Census 2016). Still recovering from bankruptcy, the city also has a 39% poverty rate, which impacts over 56% of children (ibid). These socio-economic factors, coupled with other environmental justice concerns, such as a centrally located incinerator and an asthma rate of 15.5% among adults resulting in over 3,000 hospitalizations annually, make Detroit residents particularly vulnerable to climate impacts. This project will address the urgent need to increase resilience by working with high school students and teachers in Detroit and southeast Michigan to increase their awareness of climate change and develop projects that help their schools and neighborhoods become resilient to increased occurrence and intensity of heat waves, storm events, and flooding. Using NOAA assets, including GLISA localized climate data and Sea Grant outreach and education expertise, high school students and teachers will partner with climate scientists to explore local climate impacts firsthand and to develop resilience strategies and projects that protect vulnerable households and neighborhoods and contribute to broader sustainability initiatives. The City of Detroit seeks this involvement as it ramps up a new Office of Sustainability and seeks proposals to develop the city's first Sustainability Framework. The effort is a partnership with EcoWorks, Great Lakes Integrated Sciences + Assessments (GLISA), Michigan Sea Grant (MISG), Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS), Eastern Michigan University, Civic Research Services, Inc., and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In each of the next three years, 200 students from various high schools in the Detroit and Ypsilanti areas will participate in weekly activities related to the grant. The four primary objectives of the program include: 1) Engage students in assessing and quantifying climate vulnerabilities of their schools, neighborhoods, and surrounding community. 2) Using a place-based education (PBE) model, prepare educators to engage students in creating plans and completing projects that increase community resilience. 3) Empower high school students to teach residents about local climate impacts and increase understanding of resilience strategies to mitigate extreme weather events or other environmental hazards. 4) Contribute to the completion and implementation of local sustainability and climate action plans in Southeast Michigan.
CREATE Resilience: Community Resilience through Education, Art, Technology, and Engagement
CREATE Resilience: Community Resilience through Education, Art, Technology and Engagement, is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between youth and community to 1) improve environmental hazards literacy, and 2) increase engagement in resiliency actions by youth and adult residents in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. CREATE Resilience is designed to increase community knowledge about weather and climate science, risks from local hazards, and strategies for hazard mitigation, while co-creating a vision for community resilience. Developed by Nurture Nature Center (NNC) in Easton, PA, the four-year project will work with local, state and federal partners in three hazard-prone communities in the Lehigh Valley (Easton, Bangor and Wilson areas). Hazards, particularly weather-related hazards including flooding, have had major impacts in these communities historically and recently, causing extensive damage to property and disruption to community services. Damaging river flooding along the Delaware River in 2004, 2005 and 2006 highlighted major planning and safety challenges for many municipalities in the area with high flood risk, and a recently updated regional Hazard Mitigation plan highlighted other hazards – as well as the need for public education about hazards and mitigation. CREATE Resilience’s advisory board will work with NNC to bring education and engagement events to teach the science of these hazards, as well the household and community-level strategies and tools available for resilience. Partners include the National Weather Service (NWS) Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center and Mt. Holly, NJ Weather Forecast Office, and Weather Prediction Center, as well as LV Planning Commission, Northampton County Emergency Management Agency, LV Community Foundation, Lafayette College, and FEMA Region 3 Mitigation Division. In years 1 and 2, the project will form CREATE Youth Ambassador teams, in which student interns from area high schools will meet NWS meteorologists, engage in community storytelling events, develop local hazard and resilience tours, and learn from climate and other scientists about hazards and strategies for resilience. Ambassadors will also develop and lead programming for community residents. Simultaneously, residents will participate in active-learning education events, dialogue forums, arts-based activities, technology-based programs using NOAA assets, and hands-on preparedness activities. Each community will build a collective understanding of local hazards and mitigation strategies, and co-create a vision for resilience, represented in traveling visual artist-designed murals in the third year of the project. This education and shared vision will build community support for planning and resilience and help households in making better preparedness decisions. Dissemination through Science on a Sphere® and guidebooks will share the replicable model with other organizations and communities, extending the reach of the project. Close cooperation with NWS offices helps the project meet key goals of NOAA’s Education Strategic Plan, related to safety/preparedness and a science-informed society. Through public events and print materials, the project will showcase and interpret NOAA-related science and data with area residents, while creating collaborative learning opportunities for youth and community to interact with NOAA scientists. CREATE Resilience also engages youth and adults in preparing for hazards, and in multi-generational learning to improve community awareness and involvement in preparedness and mitigation.
Empowering Climate Change Resiliency through Education in an Underserved Community
Understanding climate change and its exacerbating effects on local environmental phenomena (e.g., increase in frequency and/or intensity of drought, ocean acidification, water shortages, degraded fisheries) and how to create resiliency is critical for underserved communities as they are disproportionately impacted by these hazards and yet, have the least capacity to actively respond. To address this issue, Ocean Discovery Institute and its partners will build understanding of climate change and impacts on local hazards, human-nature interactions, and individual and community capacity for resilience through place-based education in the underserved community of City Heights, San Diego, CA. This project, titled “Empowering Climate Change Resiliency through Education in an Underserved Community,” will involve a wide range of partners, including California Sea Grant, the California Nevada Climate Applications Program, NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego Canyonlands, RECON Environmental, Inc., and the San Diego Unified Port District. Project activities encompass the design, piloting, and implementation of multi-grade level, integrated curricula that incorporate hands-on student climate science research, innovative solution building, and teacher professional development. This project will serve 1,500 middle school students annually and is expected to increase students’ understanding of scientific concepts and processes and human-nature interactions, improve their ability to make science-informed decisions, and contribute to local resilience efforts.
U.S. Virgin Islands Storm Strong Program
Under leadership from the University of the Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, and local, non-profit, long-term, 2017 storm recovery groups, this 5-year project will create the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Storm Strong Program. To date, minimal efforts have been made to engage the USVI community in hurricane education and preparation. As a result, USVI communities face significant, but often preventable, storm risks. This is the Territory’s first sustained, community-based, hurricane hazard preparedness, and community leadership building program. The USVI Storm Strong Program will engage underserved and underrepresented middle- and high-school youth and their families on all of the Territory’s main islands - St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix - in a program modelled after the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit framework. Youth and their families will: (1) explore the science and hazards associated with hurricanes, (2) assess their communities’ vulnerabilities and associated risks, (3) evaluate personal and community assets and options to increase resilience, (4) prioritize and plan for events occurring before, during, and after a storm, and (5) take action, in this case, through Community Transfer Projects, which will turn the information gained through the Program into local actions to increase individual and community resilience, sharing knowledge and actions with the broader USVI community and beyond. Through this training, ~400 USVI youth and their families will be empowered as environmental leaders and change agents within their communities and important insights will be learned as to how best to engage underrepresented and underserved groups in hazard preparedness. Creation of the USVI Storm Strong Program is timely, given the significant impacts resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 hurricanes that devastated the USVI in September 2017. These storms provide a window of opportunity to bring together partners from federal, territorial, non-governmental, academic, and the private sector, to develop a strategic, cohesive, long-term, high-impact, community-based program to improve environmental literacy and extreme weather hazard preparedness in the Territory, goals that align with the mission of NOAA’s Office of Education.
HEARTForce: Hazard Education, Awareness & Resilience Taskforce
Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, drought and extreme heat. With this rise in hazardous events, there is a pressing need for communities increase their resilience. An interdisciplinary team from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder is developing and implementing an innovative, action-oriented youth engagement project targeting rural Colorado students, teachers and communities. Our engagement model empowers youth i) to envision community resilience through immersive scenario-based role play based on a solid understanding of the relevant science, ii) to learn about natural hazards through engaging Colorado-focused lessons, iii) to initiate conversations about hazard preparedness from within communities, and iv) to develop and implement student-led resilience action projects. The project team is developing instructional materials for middle and high school students: four lesson plans focused on different hazards (fire, flood, drought, extreme heat), four complementary scenario-based role-play games with a focus on youth empowerment and a teacher workshop based on these materials. Each school implementation follows a sequence in which the lesson plan activities are conducted, followed by a scenario-based role play game and reflection. Building on their experience with the game, students develop resilience strategies for their community and present those at a community Resilience Expo. The project has the following three objectives: 1) Increase Colorado secondary teachers’ knowledge and confidence to teach about local natural hazards, and to facilitate discussions about community resilience; 2) Increase Colorado youth’s understanding of natural hazards, their community’s vulnerability, and their involvement in resilience planning efforts, and 3) Enhance the capacity and empowerment of young people in Colorado to engage in dialogue with their peers, families, and community stakeholders about community resilience issues and identify, develop, and implement resilience actions. A needs assessment disseminated to Colorado teachers guides the project team in the development of all instructional materials and allows for customizing the content to teacher needs. The project evaluation explores the efficacy of the program model and studies the impact of the project activities on students and teachers. Specifically, the evaluation studies students’ confidence and ability to engage in dialogue around community resilience, level to which students increase their understanding of natural hazards and resilience planning, and the ways in which teachers increase their content knowledge and confidence in teaching about natural hazards. The project fills a critical gap in Colorado’s resilience planning which does not include teachers and youth. The project is guided by partners from the NOAA RISA program Western Water Assessment, seven NOAA science advisors, Science on the Sphere collaborators, and is being implemented together with over 20 community partners, school partners and collaborators from across Colorado. Over the course of the three-year program, the project activities will train and support 140 teachers, engage 400+ students and result in 11 Resilience Expo events across Colorado, from primarily rural communities. The instructional units and the games will be used in classrooms with 600+ students.
Building a Green Texas: Activating a New Generation of Sustainability Leaders
Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income and otherwise marginalized communities that typically have the fewest resources to adapt. Furthermore, the very communities that feel the effects of climate change most acutely have been historically underrepresented in the fields of sustainability and green building. The Building a Green Texas (BGT) project helps address these concerns by giving high school students opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to tackle challenges posed by climate change. In the process, students gain valuable green career skills and credentials and become part of a green building school-to-job pipeline that will help contribute to a more diverse workforce. Texas-based nonprofit EcoRise, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas Marine Science Institute/National Estuarine Reserve System of NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management will lead this robust, three-year project beginning in Central Texas in Year 1 and expanding into Houston and Texas Gulf Coast communities in Year 2. Through school-year field experiences and paid summer internships, students in the program will use established scientific evidence, citizen science, and an understanding of location-specific socioeconomic and ecological factors to explore current and future extreme weather phenomena and other environmental hazards facing their communities. They will gain real-world learning experiences and career exposure by directly engaging with scientists, civic leaders, green building professionals, and NOAA data and staff. As students help design community-based green building projects, they will consider scientific uncertainty, cultural knowledge, and social equity, in the real-world context of improving community resilience.
Climate Resilience Education and Action for Dedicated Youth Program (Climate READY Program)
The goal of the Climate Resilience Education and Action for Dedicated Youth Program (Climate READY Program) is to increase the environmental literacy of South Florida students, teachers, and the general community so they can become more resilient to extreme weather and/or other environmental hazards. To prepare for a future of increasing environmental hazards, communities will need an informed public that is willing to act on decisions on a personal and civic level. Education has the potential to play an important role in achieving that goal. However, despite dire predictions of the impacts of climate change, the topic has yet to make it into mainstream education in the South Florida classroom. Climate READY is a collaborative effort between FAU Pine Jog, the Palm Beach County Office of Resilience, the Coastal Resilience Partnership, South East Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, city sustainability offices in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, the School District of Palm Beach County and Galaxy E3 Elementary School. Climate READY will focus on engaging some of the most underserved and socially vulnerable communities located in Palm Beach County, Florida. The Climate READY Program has four interconnected components: Climate READY Institute (training 48 students, grades 9-12) to become Climate READY Ambassadors, Afterschool Climate READY Program (engaging at least 300 after school students in grades 4-8), Climate READY Teacher Professional Development (training 48 teachers from targeted schools) and Climate READY Community Outreach (engaging at least 600 community members at local community events). This project will leverage NOAA assets including Science on a Sphere (SOS) technology and datasets, the SOS Explorer Mobile application, Weather Ready Nation, US Climate Resilience Toolkit, and Owlie's Weather-Ready Educational Activities. FAU Pine Jog will use the Climate Action Learning Process to develop all program lessons. The primary outcome of the program will be to enhance the adaptive capacities of identified vulnerable communities so that they are more prepared to respond to climate-related hazards and to increase civic engagement, inclusive decision-making, and equity.
Building Environmental Resiliency Leaders (BERL)
Among the most geographically isolated islands in the world, Maui’s fragile environment is highly vulnerable to sudden (hurricanes, flooding) and prolonged (drought, ocean acidification, sea-level rise) environmental changes. The University of Hawaiʻi Maui College seeks to build an environmentally literate and resilient community equipped to address, manage, and mitigate the challenges associated with environmental events and hazards. Building Environmental Resiliency Leaders (BERL) has three main goals: 1) Develop environmental hazards modules specific to Hawai’i that can be integrated into high-school curriculum; 2) Strengthen students’ understanding of environmental hazards and build self-efficacy in being contributors towards community resilience; and 3) Create community awareness of and ability to prepare for environmental hazards. By partnering with all 10 Maui County public and private high schools, BERL seeks to empower 200 environmentally resilient high school youth leaders —including Native Hawaiian, underrepresented, and low-income students in grades 9 through 12— throughout the islands of Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lanaʻi. The BERL project will develop the Environmental Resiliency Youth Leaders certification program with curriculum to engage students in active learning through innovative Problem-based Learning (PBL) group projects where students select a research topic informed by climate resiliency educational modules and consult with community subject matter experts; including partners from the National Weather Service, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant, Maui Emergency Management Agency, Maui County energy Commissioner, and Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency. Specifically, curriculum will integrate and align: 1) Overview of environmental events & hazards: tropical cyclones/hurricanes, drought/fires, ocean acidification, and seal level rise/flooding ; 2) Local scenarios & experiential outdoor learning; 3) US Climate Resiliency Toolkit; and 4) Development of resiliency plan to work towards either a) utilizing school as resiliency hub site; or b) addressing long-term resiliency to prolonged environmental changes. As a culminating event, students will present their final projects and host workshops to the broader community at local or regional events with a potential reach of 90,000 annually over three project years. In addition, BERL will hold an annual Resiliency Awareness Day, reaching 1,000 students annually, to build community awareness and resources. Amidst the threat of COVID-19 and necessary safety measures, BERL is prepared to mobilize an online curriculum for students with online presentations and virtual events to reach the broader community. BERL aligns with NOAA’s mission to educate and motivate individuals to apply environmental science to increase stewardship and resilience to environmental hazards by creating a cadre of youth environmental resiliency leaders, trained educators, and broadly reaching over half of the Maui County population. The project employs a culturally relevant, place-based, and PBL approach where 40 teams of students engage in research projects to build environmental literacy at their high schools and the wider community. In alignment with NOAA's Education Strategic Plan (2015-2035), BERL seeks to “educate and inspire people to use Earth system science toward improving ecosystem stewardship and increasing resilience to environmental hazards.”
Increasing Sea-Level Rise Resilience in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Sea-level rise (SLR) will disproportionately affect the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGOM; coastal Mississippi, Alabama, and northwest Florida) due to a confluence of socioeconomic challenges (e.g., vulnerable industry, low per capita income, low level of educational attainment, etc.), higher than average rates of SLR, and low-lying topography. Resilience of nGOM social, economic, and cultural resources in the face of SLR requires an informed and engaged constituency and leadership that understands their risks, SLR adaptation options, and the civic processes required for action. Multiple formal and informal needs assessments have identified specific educational and informational gaps that act as barriers to SLR action in nGOM coastal communities. To address the SLR resilience barriers identified by nGOM stakeholders and decision-makers, the project team will implement a comprehensive and diverse education program that engages multiple sectors within coastal communities including youth, educators, municipal officials, concerned citizens, and non-participants (i.e., those who have not yet been engaged in dialogue around SLR resilience). The goal of the project is science and civics literate constituencies in the northern Gulf of Mexico that can actively support cultures, economies, and ecosystems that are resilient to SLR. This goal will be achieved by developing an inclusive SLR education program that spans ages, locations, and demographics. There are three categories of project activities targeting different community sectors: 1) educator workshops encouraging application of an existing SLR curriculum for high school students; 2) Community Connection Dialogues that connect community leaders working on SLR with engaged constituents to inform and empower future action; and 3) pop-in immersive SLR experiences at “every day” locations (e.g., baseball games, art walks) to reach those without the means/motivation to engage in SLR resilience. The SLR curriculum, Community Connection Dialogues, and Pop-Ins are three parts of a whole that work to bring community members at all levels of understanding and engagement into the conversation and direct them towards the next step in their pathway to SLR community resilience. This work is being led by Mississippi State University in partnership with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Alabama School of Mathematics and Science, Gulf of Mexico Alliance, and the University of South Alabama. Collaborators from across the region will include the Mississippi State University Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, the five Gulf National Estuarine Research Reserves, Audubon Nature Institute, 350 Pensacola, League of Women Voters of Mobile, EEECHO, Ocean Springs Environmental Committee, UF/IFAS, Perdido & Pensacola Bays Estuary Program, Better Growth Mobile, Cities of Ocean Springs, MS and Pensacola, FL, Counties of Jackson, MS and Santa Rosa, FL, and the GoM Climate and Resilience Community of Practice.