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.
Since launching Ten Strands in 2012, we have supported over thirty-three thousand teachers across the state in using a model curriculum developed to support environmental literacy in delivering thirteen million environment-based lessons. We work at the state level to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, empowering the next generation of youth leaders with the education to face and find solutions to challenges in their local communities. Our partnerships have secured a $6 million investment from the state to create curricular resources focused on climate change and environmental justice, making California the first state to publicly finance the creation of such units.
As a core priority, our advocacy work plays a critical part in scaling environmental and climate literacy. Along with building the capacity of districts and county offices of education to implement proven strategies, and strengthening the statewide network of dedicated partners, we are catalyzing change through an innovative whole school systems approach.
We value our partnerships with and the contributions made by community-based organizations to enrich the education experience of all students. As a field catalyst, Ten Strands embraces:
Beyond equity statements and verbal commitments to support marginalized communities, we take our responsibility to uplift impacted voices and share leadership seriously. As you continue reading our Annual Report, you will see how our team has intentionally placed these values into the creation and growth of our programmatic initiatives.
Together, we have accomplished many great things in these past ten years. The future of Ten Strands is a future that will continue to ensure that students across California are equipped with the knowledge necessary to create healthy communities.
With immense gratitude,
Karen Cowe, CEO
features in nationally recognized media outlets
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Ten Strands expanded its capacity in 2022-23 to advance the environmental literacy of K–12 students by welcoming new staff members to the team. We also organized and spoke at over twenty conferences, events, and webinars, highlighting our influence and expertise on environmental and climate change literacy efforts in California.
Last summer, Ten Strands announced the addition of new director of curriculum Roni Jones, who is leading the development of California’s new Climate Change and Environmental Justice Program (CCEJP). Roni brings to Ten Strands over three decades of success in leading educational systems change.
In August, Ten Strands also welcomed Andra Yeghoian as our new chief innovation officer, bolstering our team and the work of our organization and sparking environmental literacy with her whole systems approach. Andra brings her experience of working at the county office of education level, where she directly influenced twenty-three school districts through her programs. She is now focused on taking her programs to scale across the state. Andra has spoken at over a dozen events this last year.
In early spring, Karen Cowe, Ten Strands CEO was invited to present strategies toward advancing environmental and climate literacy at the annual general membership meeting of the California County Superintendents. Working closely with San Mateo’s superintendent Nancy Magee, Karen shared our vision for how to scale climate change education and environmental literacy across fifty-eight counties.
Climate Change and Environmental Justice Program (CCEJP): A collaboration between Ten Strands, the San Mateo County Office of Education, the California Department of Education, and community- and student-centered organizations who have come together to create K–12 open education resources focused on climate change and environmental justice.
We believe in empowering students to be environmentally literate, engaged citizens who can act for the well-being of their family, broader community, and environment. Our focus is to support teachers with age-appropriate instructional materials on local environmental challenges, sparking students’ curiosity about how their community is affected and possible solutions. This year, the CCEJP writing teams — made up of community- and student-centered organizations with diverse experiences writing curriculum and providing professional learning — have made significant progress toward developing the curricular units. Lesson plans continue to be drafted under the guidance of Ten Strands, BSCS Science Learning, and the Climate Collective. Read more about the curricular resources here.
As part of our work on CCEJP, we supported Senator Ben Allen’s budget request for the state to allocate an additional $10 million to provide sufficient professional learning support for teachers, and build upon and leverage the initial investment in curricular resource development. Through this campaign, we built a broad coalition of 250 supporters, positioning us for a successful campaign next year.
Read our responses to the California State Budget process this year:
teachers have already expressed interest in contributing to and using the CCEJP curriculum.
individuals, education entities, and organizations submitted letters of support and made their voices heard on social media and by emailing budget leaders.
Our CCEJP writing teams have each published their story on how they hope to empower young people to understand climate change and environmental justice, leading to action in their communities. Check them out here.
views of CCEJP stories
A collective action network seeking to ensure access to high-quality environment-based learning for all California’s TK–12 students.
We believe in the power of systems change as a lever to ensure that all students have access to high-quality environment-based learning. This year — with a membership made up of educators, governmental and non-governmental agencies, scientists, sustainability professionals, and individuals with expertise on the environment and systems change — CAELI completed its first full season under the leadership of Andra Yeghoian as project director and the new Theory of Action. Andra replaced Ten Strands’ CEO, Karen Cowe, who was in this role for the first eight years of the initiative. Learn more about how the hubs promote student learning in our monthly newsletters.
Joining Juanita Chan-Roden, we also welcomed CAELI’s newest co-chair, executive director of the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education Estrella Risinger, and said goodbye to departing co-chair Craig Strang, since the launch of CAELI. We thank Karen and Craig for their service. Read more about the leadership transition that took place in June 2023 here.
At CAELI, we have new and exciting opportunities for individuals and organizations to be a part of the movement! This year we published two new web pages: one provides ways to Get Involved, and the other offers access to the many Resources created by CAELI.
new CAELI Members
participants in CAELI events and programs
people with CAELI resources and stories
new newsletter subscribers
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A collaborative effort between Ten Strands and the UC and CSU schools of education to educate the more than 400,000+ graduating high school students per year in California to become literate in climate change and environmental justice issues and solutions.
Many of California’s 5.8 million public school students enter adulthood with inadequate climate and environmental justice literacy. Ten Strands partners with ECCLPs to build pre-service and in-service educator capacity to activate and empower students to be literate in climate and environmental justice issues. Last fall, approximately 400 climate activists gathered at UC Irvine to relaunch ECCLPs and recommit to the fight for environmental literacy in PK–12 education systems across California. Read about the event here.
In the spring of 2023, ECCLPs launched its first campus hub at California State University, Dominguez Hills, as well as three working committees focused on Research, PK–12 Teaching and Learning, and Community-Based Partnerships.
ECCLPs inaugural executive director Kelley Lê shared her insights on the work advanced in the last year, featuring the voices of each ECCLPs committee lead. Learn about each of the committees and their leads here.
features in media outlets
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Creating safe and healthy outdoor learning spaces at school sites, strategies for teaching and learning outdoors, and opportunities for field based residential and day-time outdoor learning.
Schoolyard forests shade and protect TK–12 students from extreme heat and rising temperatures due to climate change. The California Schoolyard Forest System℠ — our partnership with Green Schoolyards America — launched a free online resource library providing practical resources to schools and districts as they plan, develop, use, and manage schoolyard forests.
We supported the Living Schoolyards Act , a groundbreaking bill that directs federal resources to transform the spaces in which children play every day — schoolyards — into living and verdant spaces to protect students from extreme heat, nurture their curiosity and sense of wonder, invite learning, imagination, and play, to promote environmental stewardship.
Ten Strands’ director of strategic partnerships, Amy Frame, authored a new framework for the Resource Library that identifies how to use schoolyard forests to support academics across grades and subjects.
A partnership with UndauntedK12 to ensure school infrastructure and grounds are resilient and support student health, safety, learning, play, and development in a time of rapidly increasing extreme weather.
In this era of rapid climate change, we need to ensure that the buildings and grounds of California’s public schools are developed as sites of resilience and sustainability. In 2022, we partnered with UndauntedK12 to launch the California Climate Ready Schools Coalition, a group of thirty diverse groups representing various perspectives on education and climate policy collaborating to support climate-ready schools for California’s most vulnerable students.
In the spring of 2023, the Climate Ready Schools Coalition released Climate Resilient California Schools: A Call to Action, the first comprehensive report on climate-driven impacts on children in California. The report presents evidence-based recommendations, including a master plan for California’s schools that centers climate resilience within the 21st-century mission of public schools, securing students’ health, safety, and learning through extreme weather events, environmental hazards, and other disruptions.
This year, we supported and helped pass Senate Bill (SB) 394, which requires the creation of a master plan for healthy, sustainable, and climate-resilient California schools. In April, Andra Yeghoian moderated a policy forum on how schools can tackle the climate crisis and the path ahead to achieve climate-resilient schools.This bill is a huge win for our state in building school resiliency and preparedness for climate change to protect student health and well-being.
The Climate-Ready Schools Coalition is made up of over twenty-five organizations, led by Ten Strands and UndauntedK12, and has forged a number of new partnerships through advocacy efforts and the research report.
A partnership with UndauntedK12 to provide an interactive data sets that can be used to catalyze change for environmental and climate literacy and action efforts in California TK–12 schools.
This Data Initiative responds to the need for an equity-informed, data-driven approach that prioritizes underserved communities and addresses environmental injustices. This year, the Data Initiative (currently in beta) has made significant progress in advancing a statewide analysis of:
The Data Initiative identifies key demographic indicators related to need, as well as tracks readiness and progress on high impact leverage points for change such as school board policies, bond measures, and investments in environmental and climate initiatives and staff to lead these initiatives.
The Data Initiative launched a website that includes the start of the interactive data sets that can support scaling implementation of environmental and climate action in California’s schools by using an equity-informed and data-driven approach.
EMPOWERING YOUTH ADVOCACY!
California Youth Climate Policy (CYCP) Leadership Program: In May, we launched a new statewide youth program designed to empower high school students to enact real change in their school or district. Facilitated in partnership between Ten Strands, the Sierra Club, and UndauntedK12, we are supporting forty-five tenth-through-twelfth-grade students to take climate action into their own hands. Throughout the program, students focus on foundational knowledge and skill-building activities related to environmental and climate action. Students will then apply their knowledge and skills on leading an advocacy campaign that passes climate policies (or builds on existing policies) in their school or district.
Ten Strands has been supporting local education agencies (LEAs—county offices of education and school districts), schools, organizations, and individuals with direct services on environmental and climate literacy and action. In the coming year, we look forward to expanding our capacity to support schools in integrating environmental and climate literacy as well as action on sustainable and climate-resilient schools into TK–12 education across the whole system.
Featured in our bi-monthly newsletters, this year we’ve helped uplift twenty-four stories about environmental and climate literacy efforts in California.
Climate Corps Fellow
Climate Corps Fellow
Chief Executive Officer
Philanthropic Engagement Manager
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Director of Curriculum
Chief Advancement Officer
Director of Equity and Inclusion
Chief Innovation Officer
Dr. Tom Adams
Dr. Adrian Hightower
Dr. Kelley Lê
Greg Moore, Board Advisor
Will Parish, Board 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: $4,475,137
Total Program Expenses: $1,452,694
Salaries & Personnel Expenses: $381,391
Other General & Administrative: $46,574
Total Support Expenses: $427,965
Total Program Expenses: $3,633,920
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