CA Approves $6M to Climate Change and Environmental Justice Curriculum

By Ten Strands|July 16, 2021

Senator Ben Allen’s proposal passes, providing funds to create new open education resource (OER) curriculum units for K–12 students.

Rialto Unified School District Kindergarten Students building shade structures
Kindergarten students building shade structures. Photo credit: Rialto USD.

SACRAMENTO Governor Gavin Newsom, on July 9, signed into law landmark legislation that will allocate $6 million for the creation of free educational resources on climate change and environmental justice.

The momentous bill was signed as part of AB/SB 130 (SEC. 151) and will make environmental curriculum accessible to all K–12 students throughout the state.

Senator Ben Allen led the way in championing the proposal to change the way California teachers and students understand climate change and environmental justice issues while developing critical thinking skills around global topics. Ten Strands, California’s leading field catalyst nonprofit focused on advancing the environmental literacy of our students, worked with Senator Allen to garner support for this budget request. 

“This will be a critical tool for educators to teach future generations about how our environmental choices have shaped our past and will shape our future,” Senator Allen (D – Santa Monica) said. “Our students are following developments on climate change, environmental justice, clean air, and water. This curriculum will empower California’s students and teachers to explore locally relevant solutions to pressing global issues, increase awareness and critical thinking, and inspire future environmental leaders.”

The bill appropriates $6 million from the General Fund to the Superintendent to allocate to the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) to contract for the creation of free and open education resources. 

“We are inspired by our role in ensuring all California’s 6.2 million students have access to free, high-quality climate and environmental justice curriculum,” said Nancy Magee, San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools. “This is a critically important step forward that will guide our future global leaders.”

SMCOE will partner with Ten Strands to create K–12 standards-based curriculum units that integrate California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) per AB 1548 (2003, Pavley) and SB 720 (2018, Allen).

When ready, the curriculum units will be released as an open education resource (OER). This means that all materials for teaching and learning will be in the public domain under a license that allows them to be freely used, evolved, and shared with others.

“California continues to show itself to be a forward-thinking state in the area of environmental and climate literacy,” said Karen Cowe, CEO of Ten Strands. “We are thankful to the many supporters who collaborated to help create a culture of educational equity for students.”

Over 165 nonprofits, county offices of education, school districts, teachers, regional parks, and organizations endorsed this curriculum unit proposal. Many individuals also wrote letters of support, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Margot and Steve Kerr, and Paul Hawken. 

Once available, teachers in California will have access to thorough and culturally relevant curriculum units that explore climate change and environmental justice issues in California, leading to greater local and global understanding of the issues, as well as tangible solutions. 

Ten Strands
This article was written by Ten Strands

Ten Strands' mission is to strengthen the partnerships and strategies that will bring environmental literacy to all of California’s K–12 students. Our vision is a world where everyone understands and experiences the interrelatedness of people and place; where all students have access to high-quality education with an environmental component; and where all people have the knowledge, awareness, and ability to make decisions that promote health and wellbeing for themselves and their communities.


  • Anne V. Scatolini.M.Ed.

    Please help me fund the for Environmental Justice in my school Learning Garden