California Environmental Literacy Initiative

The California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI) is a collective action network that seeks to ensure access to high quality environmental-based learning for all California’s TK–12 students.

The California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI), led by Ten Strands, works statewide with guidance from a Leadership Council to create systems change in support of ensuring that all students have access to high quality environmental-based learning. The Leadership Council of this collective action network includes a wide-array of expertise and contributions from educators, governmental and non-governmental agencies, scientists, sustainability professionals, and individuals with expertise on the environment and systems change. 

CAELI’s history has evolved over time. In 2014, former Superintendent Tom Torlakson appointed an Environmental Literacy Task Force to create A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy, which was completed in September 2015. The co-chairs of that task force, and Ten Strands, were then authorized to create the Environmental Literacy Steering Committee (ELSC), to create and lead an implementation plan for California’s Blueprint for Environmental Literacy. Ten Strands successfully led the ELSC from 2016-2018 and was encouraged by the California Department of Education (CDE) to continue to evolve that work into the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI) in 2019 under Superintendent Tony Thurmond.  

Based on the desire to more fully center equity and to accelerate the rate at which environmental literacy advances across California, CAELI was re-envisioned in 2020 to grow the number of people and representation of those directly involved with the initiative. The initiative is now structured as a collective action network that includes a Leadership Council, with members who are organized into Innovation Hubs, which function as project incubators that catalyze change across diverse facets. The current hubs are: 

  1. Community-Based Partners
  2. County Office of Education
  3. District
  4. Equity
  5. Green Career Education
  6. Professional Learning
  7. Policy

Every action that CAELI takes to advance environmental literacy in California addresses each of the CAELI Guiding Principles: Equity, Justice, and Accessibility; Scalability; Shared Leadership and Collaboration; A Wide Range of Environment-Based Experiences; and Connection and Care.

The CAELI Theory of Action is based on the premise that to achieve environmental literacy for every student in California, we must apply each of our Guiding Principles to concerted, intentional work in each of the following five Domains: Community Partnerships, Policy and Advocacy, Sustainable and Climate-Ready Schools, Sustainable Funding, and Teaching and Learning.

To learn more about past accomplishments and current project work, please take a deeper dive on the CAELI website, and subscribe to the CAELI newsletter for up-to-date information. Click here to learn more about the CAELI Leadership Council.


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