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Center for Ecoliteracy

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Elementary & Secondary Schools, Environment, Environmental Education, Food, Literacy

Mission: The center for ecoliteracy's mission is education for sustainable living.

Programs: The center for ecoliteracy (cel) advances ecological education in k12 schools, recognizing that students need to experience and understand how nature sustains life and how to live accordingly. Cels work is based on systems thinking, leadership dynamics, and how young people learn. We influence education decision makers by articulating strategic frameworks and engaging with school communities, foundations, filmmakers, and other change agents. We create books and resources, including materials produced under our publishing imprint, learning in the real world. We offer professional development; provide consulting, and present workshops for our local area and state of california educators. In 2014 the center for ecoliteracy continued to expand our suite of school food system reform programs under our california food for california kids (cfck) initiative, with major support from the tomkat charitable trust, s. D. Bechtel, jr. Foundation, and the california department of food and agriculture specialty food block grant, launching local, statewide, and national programs. California thursdays, a bite-sized implementation strategy of the cfck initiative, was piloted in august, and launched a statewide implementation on october 23rd with 15 participating school districts to serve a healthy, freshly prepared school meal made from california-grown food. Each district pledged to increase the number of california thursdays meals throughout the academic school year. Collectively, these districts serve 190 million meals annually. In addition to providing technical support, cel provided a toolkit of recipes, marketing materials, and online networking resources to support the participating districts, including versions in english and spanish. Locally, cel continued to engage with the oakland unified school district to advance school food innovation along with educational learning opportunities articulated in a rethinking school lunch oakland central kitchen, instructional farm, and education center. Nationally, cel partnered with national geographic to publish big ideas: a new alignment with academic standards, a companion resource for the magazines 2014 series the future of food. This resource identifies key concepts that link food, culture, health, and the environment, and aligns them to 5 current academic standards including common core state standards, next generation science standards, and college, career, and civic life standards (also known as c3). A previous big ideas (2008) provided an extensive conceptual road map based on benchmarks of the american association for the advancement of science and linking food, culture, health, and the environment. Under its learning in the real world publishing imprint, cel published and disseminated its widely praised making the case for healthy, freshly prepared school meals research, including a downloadable research document, a customizable visual presentation template, and a video, for use by change agents who are promoting fresh, healthy meals in schools. Making the case summarizes extensive research that documents the links between school food, better nutrition, academic success, and student health; highlights growing evidence that schools are able to maintain both strong nutrition standards and financial stability; and features reports from nutrition services directors who had found successful models and programs. Cel expanded its research efforts in 2014 to investigate links between food systems and climate change. Climate change may be the environmental crisis of our time. The food choices we make; the ways we grow, raise, transport, process, store, prepare, and serve food; how we manage food waste are deep and wide-ranging. Public awareness of the extent of this relationship is not widespread, and few resources exist to explore it in k12 education. School food, from gardens to cafeteria procurement to composting, is an arena for addressing the intersection of human actions and natural processes such as soil, water, and carbon cycles. The center for ecoliteracy serves as an anchor tenant at the david brower center (dbc), a home for environmental and social action and one of the bay areas most advanced green buildings. Being located at the dbc enables cel to expand seminars and services while providing opportunities for collaboration with dozens of other leading non-for-profit organizations.

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