Guided by our Core Values, Ten Strands operates with a small, diverse, and nimble staff who work with strategic partners throughout California to advance environmental literacy. Our team serves as a catalyst for transformational change in the public education system and believes that all students have the potential to become future-ready, with the capability of discovering viable climate solutions for their communities.
As I reflect on our first 10 years of Ten Strands and look forward to our next 10 I am grateful for the relationships that our team has cultivated to advance our mission to bring environmental literacy to California’s 5.8 million public school students. We realize the urgency of climate change and recognize the essential role education plays in preparing the next generation to protect our planet and the systems that support all life. Our ability to collaborate with partners across the state and beyond is only possible through the support of our donors and partner organizations.
Our decision to serve as a field catalyst is grounded in three priorities: advocating for state investments in environmental and climate literacy, building the capacity of districts and county offices of education to implement proven strategies for scaling widespread educational change, and strengthening the statewide network of dedicated partners in the education sector.
Ten Strands was founded with a focus on teaching and learning as the leverage point for creating equitable systems change in our public schools. Our annual report highlights the programs and partnerships in which we invest our time and resources ensuring that all students will understand and experience the connection between natural systems and human social systems.
Many thanks to our staff, partners, and donors for your impact on students and teachers by supporting environmental literacy across California!
With immense gratitude,
Karen Cowe, CEO
Our Board of Directors supports the work of Ten Strands by providing governance and mission-based leadership while cultivating strategic partnerships. Our Advisory Board further enhances our impact by offering their expertise and supporting new avenues for innovative educational change.
supporters of legislative proposal
letters of interest received from over 70 organizations
Organizations selected to collaborate with Ten Strands
Ensuring that all of California’s 5.8 million public school students have access to free, high-quality climate and environmental justice curriculum is critical to achieving educational equity. In July 2021, the State of California appropriated $6 million for the development of education resources to help teachers develop their students’ understanding of climate change and environmental justice. CCEJP is a collaboration between Ten Strands, the San Mateo County Office of Education, the California Department of Education, a wide-range of partner organizations, and leaders who have come together to develop K—12 curricular resources. The free open education resources will connect the humanities with the sciences, offering students over 15 hours of interdisciplinary instruction each year. At each grade level, the activities will build upon prior lessons so that students have cyclical and iterative experiences over the years.
The program will provide students with a deep understanding of climate change and environmental justice issues in California, empowering them to make a positive difference in their local communities. Our commitment to an equitable approach in creating these K—12 learning resources has attracted a wide range of partners who center the experiences of historically marginalized and Indigenous communities in their instructional method. This innovative approach to standards-based instruction brings valuable and diverse perspectives to the project.
Members of the Leadership Council
Webinar Series: A Call to Action for Educational Leaders
Now in its seventh year, CAELI is a statewide collective action network, led by Ten Strands, of educators, governmental and non-governmental agencies, scientists, sustainability professionals, and individuals. These partners collaborate to develop and implement a system of support for environmental literacy to serve California’s 5.8 million public school students. By shifting the balance of power from an exclusive group of leaders to an inclusive and ever-growing collective of change-makers who are reflective of the state’s diverse communities and populations, CAELI’s Leadership Council members are empowered to create change within their own environmental literacy spaces.
Earlier this year, CAELI launched seven innovation hubs—Community-Based Partners, County Office of Education, District, Equity, Green Career Education, Policy, and Professional Learning—with each focusing on an important aspect of equitable environmental literacy in school districts and county offices of education throughout the state. The innovation hubs operate under a Theory of Action where future generations are environmentally literate and prepared with the leadership skills to restore the health of living systems and communities upon which we all depend. The new innovation hubs are designed to accelerate and scale student environmental literacy in California. CAELI invites a broad array of new voices who are seeking avenues to implement environmental literacy education, and join a group of leaders with diverse expertise.
Online Library Resources
The pandemic created immense challenges for educational leaders by increasing rates of teacher burnout, exacerbating existing inequities, and the urgent need to support student learning recovery. Ten Strands, alongside Green Schoolyards America, the Lawrence Hall of Science, the San Mateo County Office of Education, and other key partners, understood that outdoor learning provides a powerful opportunity to deliver healing and equitable education to all students, benefiting their academic achievement, social development, and overall well-being. We co-founded NOLI as a collective action project to develop a free online library to guide K—12 schools to safely and equitably reopen. Over 400 volunteers created more than 200 resources, garnering extensive national press interest from 1,110+ media outlets with 166 unique articles published. In June 2021, NOLI was presented the Best of Green Schools Michelle Curreri Collaborator Award.
This effort has evolved into a long-term climate action initiative that helps educational institutions consider how they can make investments in building resilience through permanent outdoor spaces and programs.
Ten Strands has also joined forces with Green Schoolyards America, the California Department of Education, and CAL FIRE to launch the California Schoolyard Forest System (SM), a new initiative to create schoolyard forests across PK—12 public school grounds to directly shade and protect students from extreme heat and rising temperatures. We remain committed to school grounds designed for ecological resilience, teaching and learning using the outdoors, and student health and well-being.
Virtual and in-person attendees
Goal to graduate environmental and climate literate high school students in California
Our partnership with the University of California (UC), the California State University (CSU), and community organizations is a first-of-its-kind collaboration preparing pre-service and in-service teachers to advance climate and environmental literacy in PK—12 instruction. By significantly expanding the opportunities of every child in California to learn about climate change and to have the tools to affect positive social action, our youth will develop an intrinsic desire to care for our planet. ECCLPs focuses on PK—12 climate and environmental justice literacy through research, teaching and learning, and community partnerships within the UC and CSU systems, through which more than half of the state’s teachers are trained.
ECCLPs’ relaunch event brought together climate change activists, educators, and funders for an immersive experience showcasing the important perspectives of students, educational leaders, Indigenous voices, and community organizations. The event also served to announce Ten Strands’ board member, Dr. Kelley Lê’s, appointment as the initiative’s inaugural executive director at UC Irvine. An experienced education leader and author, Kelley is motivated to bring practical and scalable solutions to the preparation of current and future teachers to educate students across the state to be dedicated stewards of our planet.
A New Holistic Approach to Scaling Environmental and Climate Literacy, and Supporting Sustainable and Climate Resilient Schools
Change often requires the disruption of existing systems and practices. For our first 10 years, we have focused on teaching and learning as the center point to advancing environmental literacy. Ten Strands aims to meet the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for environmental justice by catalyzing change through an innovative whole systems approach – a holistic framework engaging the multiple educational components of campus, curriculum, community, and culture to make transformational shifts. By expanding our approach, we will open up new opportunities for investing in programs and services that align key constituents around high-impact leverage points that connect environmental literacy instruction to climate resilient school improvements. Our whole systems framework increases student engagement, building connections and momentum across classrooms, schools, districts, and counties. Ten Strands will continue to build strategic synergy and maximize the impact needed to achieve systemic change by prioritizing environmental literacy, climate change, and justice. While we remain steadfast in our commitment to teaching and learning, we realize the importance of a whole systems approach including grounds and facilities.
Chief Executive Officer
Philanthropic Engagement Manager
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Director of Curriculum
Chief Advancement Officer
Founder and President
Director of Equity and Inclusion
Executive Assistant to CEO
Chief Innovation Officer
Dr. Tom Adams
Dr. Adrian Hightower
Dr. Kelley Lê
Sheila Nahi, Chair
Dr. Milton Chen
Dr. Hardin Coleman
Leslie Mintz Tamminen
Ten Strands operates on a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year
Total Revenue and Support: $4,734,751
Total Revenue and Support: $2,169,103
Total Program Expenses: $1,452,694
Salaries & Personnel Expenses: $381,391
Other General & Administrative: $46,574
Total Support Expenses: $427,965
Total Program Expenses: $1,358,006
Salaries & Personnel Expenses: $520,105
Other General & Administrative: $124,828
Total Support Expenses: $644,932
At every level, our accomplishments are all thanks to our supporters who enable us to provide environmental literacy learning experiences to California’s K—12 students.
check_small Donors with consecutive giving over the past three years
check_small Loyal donors with five or more years of support
check_small Donors who have given annually since our founding in 2012