2021-2022 Annual Report


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.


Dear Friends,

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.


Climate Change and Environmental Justice Program


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.


California Environmental Literacy Initiative


Members of the Leadership Council


New Resources

  • Teacher Call to Action For Environmental Literacy
  • State Seal of Civic Engagement Environmental Literacy Implementation Guide
  • County Office of Education Leadership Case Studies
  • Community-Based Partner Network Toolkit


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.


National Outdoor Learning Initiative


Online Library Resources


Unique Visitors

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.


Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Projects


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.


Whole School Sustainability

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.



Marwa Abdelghani

Communications Manager

Karen Cowe

Chief Executive Officer

Navreet Singh Dhaliwal

Philanthropic Engagement Manager

Jeffrey Dowling

Instructional Designer

Dr. Amy Frame

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Dr. Roni Jones

Director of Curriculum

Jilliann Rodriguez M'Barki

Chief Advancement Officer

Will Parish

Founder and President

Celeste Royer

Director of Equity and Inclusion

Loren Sanchez

Executive Assistant to CEO

Andra Yeghoian

Chief Innovation Officer

Board of Directors

Dr. Tom Adams

Susanna Cooper

Candice Dickens-Russell

Dr. Adrian Hightower

Dr. Kelley Lê

Sheila Nahi, Chair

Will Parish

Robert Sheffield

Advisory Board

Bill Andrews

Jennifer Caldwell

Paul Chapman

Jayni Chase

Dr. Milton Chen

Jack Chin

Dr. Hardin Coleman

Diana Dehm

Randi Fisher

Mark Gold

A.J. Hudson

Cannon Michael

Christy Rocca

Suzanne Schutte

Leslie Mintz Tamminen


  • Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education
  • California Association of Science Educators
  • California Department of Education
  • California Environmental Literacy Initiative Leadership Council
  • California Geographic Alliance
  • California Global Education Project
  • California History Social Science Project
  • California Partnership for Math and Science Education
  • California Regional Environmental Education Community Network
  • California Science Project
  • California State University System
  • California Subject Matter Project
  • CalRecycle
  • Climate Generation
  • Climate Literacy Committee of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter
  • Environmental Volunteers
  • Equity Meets Design
  • Green Guardians
  • Green Schoolyards America
  • Justice Outside
  • Lawrence Hall of Science
  • Marine Science Institute
  • Monterey County Office of Education
  • Orange County Department of Education, Inside the Outdoors
  • San Diego County Office of Education
  • San Joaquin County Office of Education
  • San Mateo County Office of Education
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education
  • Santa Cruz County Office of Education
  • Solano County Office of Education
  • State Education and Environment Roundtable
  • The HEAL Project
  • The Inverness Institute
  • UndauntedK12
  • University of California System


Revenue and Expense

Ten Strands operates on a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year


Total Revenue and Support: $4,734,751

Government Agencies: $2,826,432.63
Foundations: $1,556,666
Project Consulting: $188,561
Government Grants: $25,000
Individual Donors: $69,075
In-kind Contributions: $47,428
Corporations: $21,588


Total Revenue and Support: $2,169,103

Government Agencies: $180,000
Foundations: $1,698,747
Project Consulting: $2,980
Government Grants: $150,100
Individual Donors: $81,994
In-kind Contributions: $45,250
Corporations: $10,032

Program Expenses


Total Program Expenses: $1,452,694

California Environmental Literacy Initiative: $471,065
Outdoor Learning Initiatives: $191,572
Community Outreach: $496,500
California Climate & Environmental Justice Program: $113,026
Environmental Learning Programs: $118,093
Public Engagement: $62,437

Support Expenses:

Salaries & Personnel Expenses: $381,391

Other General & Administrative: $46,574

Total Support Expenses: $427,965


Total Program Expenses: $1,358,006

California Environmental Literacy Initiative: $563,935
Outdoor Learning Initiatives: $279,317
Community Outreach: $277,412
Environmental Learning Programs: $190,531
Public Engagement: $46,812

Support Expenses:

Salaries & Personnel Expenses: $520,105

Other General & Administrative: $124,828

Total Support Expenses: $644,932

Change in Net Assets

2022: $2,854,092 0
2021: $166,164 0


Thank you to our supporters

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

CORAL $250,000–$499,999

  • Elizabeth R. and William J. Patterson Foundation check_smallcheck_small

HUMMINGBIRD $100,000–$249,999

  • First Republic Bank Foundation
  • Jacques M. Littlefield Foundation
  • Suzanne U.D. Parish Foundation
  • Pisces Foundation check_smallcheck_smallcheck_small
  • Sand Hill Foundation check_smallcheck_small

SEA STAR $50,000–$99,999

  • BelleJAR Foundation
  • William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation check_small
  • Jennifer Caldwell and John H.N. Fisher check_smallcheck_small
  • Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
  • Lampert Byrd Foundation
  • National Geographic Society
  • Diana Nelson and John Atwater check_smallcheck_small
  • Julie and Will Parish check_smallcheck_smallcheck_small

SEA OTTER $25,000–$49,999

  • Katie Albright and Jake Schatz check_smallcheck_small
  • Anonymous
  • Rick and Tonya Antle
  • California Community Foundation
  • Bob and Dana Emery check_smallcheck_small
  • HalfMyDAF
  • Clarence E. Heller Foundation check_smallcheck_small
  • HRH Foundation check_smallcheck_small
  • Morgan Family Foundation
  • Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  • Silver Giving Foundation check_smallcheck_small
  • Susan and David Tunnell check_smallcheck_small

CACTUS $10,000–$24,999

  • Anonymous
  • Janice and Matthew Barger check_smallcheck_small
  • Leslie Berriman and Nion McEvoy check_smallcheck_small
  • The Kelly and Sam Bronfman Family Foundation check_smallcheck_small
  • Eliza Brown check_smallcheck_smallcheck_small
  • Nina Brown de Clercq check_smallcheck_small
  • Owsley Brown III check_small
  • The Keith Campbell Foundation check_small
  • Ruth Cox and Milton Chen check_small
  • David and Carla Crane Philanthropic Fund check_smallcheck_small
  • Stephanie DiMarco and Jim Harleen check_smallcheck_small
  • Kate Ditzler and Stuart Gasner check_smallcheck_small
  • First Republic Bank check_small
  • Christine Gardner
  • Katie Hall and Tom Knutsen check_smallcheck_small
  • Betsy and Ed McDermott check_smallcheck_small
  • Sheila and Paul Nahi check_smallcheck_small
  • Nicholas J. and Susan S. Pritzker check_small
  • Kate Ridgway and Rick Holmstrom check_smallcheck_small
  • Sherman Family Fund check_smallcheck_small
  • Laura and Greg Spivy check_smallcheck_small
  • Laura and Jeffrey Ubben check_small

GREY WOLF $5,000–$9,999

  • Martha Conte
  • Stuart Davidson and Wendy Webster
  • John Lamm check_small
  • Bill and Stephanie Mellin
  • Susan and Bill Oberndorf check_smallcheck_small
  • Louise and Arthur Patterson
  • JaMel and Tom Perkins check_small

SUGAR MAPLE $1,000–$4,999

  • John Buoymaster check_smallcheck_small
  • Karen Cowe check_smallcheck_small
  • Paul Danielsen
  • Cathy and Sandy Dean check_smallcheck_small
  • Barbara Deméré check_smallcheck_small
  • Rebecca Draper check_small
  • Kate and Bill Duhamel check_smallcheck_small
  • Kamal El-Wattar check_smallcheck_small
  • Melinda Ellis Evers and Will Evers check_smallcheck_small
  • Pam Polite Fisco and Dennis Fisco check_smallcheck_small
  • Jason Fish and Courtney Benoist
  • Jessica and Stephen Galloway
  • Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund check_smallcheck_small
  • Paul and Eileen Growald
  • Shelly Guyer and Tom Huntington check_small
  • Julie B. Harkins check_smallcheck_small
  • Melissa and Shepard Harris check_small
  • Caryl and Mickey Hart
  • Sabrina and Mick Hellman check_smallcheck_small
  • Adrian Hightower check_small
  • Vince and Amanda Hoenigmann
  • Colin Lind
  • Dagny Maidman and Molly Wood check_smallcheck_small
  • Cannon Michael
  • MMHBO Fund
  • Meridee Moore
  • Maryam and Oran Muduroglu check_smallcheck_small
  • Harry Griffin Mumford Jr.
  • Emilie and Doug Ogden check_smallcheck_small
  • Simone Otus Coxe and Tench Coxe
  • Anne and Michael Parish check_small
  • Mauree Jane and Mark W. Perry check_smallcheck_small
  • Rina and Chris Chase
  • Dr. Krista Ramonas and Gordon Rubenstein check_smallcheck_small
  • Celeste and Jim Royer check_smallcheck_small
  • Cesar Rueda
  • Suzanne and Will Schutte check_small
  • The Stellar Blue Fund check_smallcheck_small
  • Susan Gilmore Stone and Prescott Stone check_small
  • Susan Swig
  • Kirk Anne Taylor and Nik Hallworth check_small
  • The Laney and Pasha Thornton Foundation check_smallcheck_small
  • Mary and Jerome Vascellaro check_smallcheck_small
  • Brooks Walker III Family Fund check_smallcheck_small
  • Lynn and Peter Wendell check_small
  • Mary and Yanek Chiu check_small

BEAR $1–$999

    • Thomas Adams
    • Craig Anderson
    • Bill Andrews check_small
    • JoAnn and Jack Bertges check_smallcheck_small
    • Eric Blasen check_smallcheck_small
    • Philip E. Bowles
    • Buzz Burlock check_smallcheck_small
    • Hedy Chang and Jack Chin check_smallcheck_small
    • Helen and Paul Chapman check_smallcheck_small
    • Gail and Hardin Coleman check_smallcheck_small
    • Nancy and Edward Conner check_small
    • Susanna Cooper
    • Jahmal Corner
    • Lisa Cottle and Matt Biggar check_smallcheck_small
    • Diana Dehm
    • Delphinus School of Natural History
    • Navreet Dhaliwal
    • Candice Dickens-Russell check_smallcheck_small
    • Thomas Van Dyck
    • Sandra Emerson
    • Amy Frame
    • Carol Inkellis and Joel Gingold check_smallcheck_small
    • Maya Gingold check_small
    • Mary and Daniel Gregory check_small
    • Peter Hellwig
    • Larry and Linda Howell
    • Jayni and Chevy Chase
    • Christopher Tellis and Isabella Kirkland
    • Missy Lahren
    • Laura and Michael Lazarus
    • Le Family
    • Andrea Lewis check_smallcheck_small
    • Grace and Jerry Lieberman check_smallcheck_small
    • Linda Livers check_smallcheck_small
    • Jilliann and Simo M’Barki
    • Alexis Davis Millar
    • Vicki Moore
    • Stephanie Rico
    • Jennifer and Marty Rigby check_smallcheck_small
    • Christy Rocca check_small
    • Donald R. Share check_smallcheck_small
    • Patti and Richard Shavelson
    • Robert Sheffield check_smallcheck_small
    • Darrell Steely check_small
    • Leslie and Terry Tamminen
  • Lisa C. Van Dusen check_smallcheck_small
  • Carl Vogt check_small
  • Billy and Kathleen Volkmann check_small
  • David B. Whitlock
  • Charlotte and David Winton
  • Evelyn Young