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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

ACTERRA: Action for a Healthy Planet

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment

Mission: Acterra brings people together to create local solutions for a healthy planet

Target demographics: Acterra inspires action to protect our local environment, and the entire planet

Direct beneficiaries per year: 500 individuals learn about environmental issues that face our planet and our region, and solutions that they can take part in to slow climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. We honored 9 organizations throughout the Bay Area for for their unique and important sustainability practices. From their stories, we can educate hundreds of local businesses on how to improve their own sustainability efforts.

Geographic areas served: Bay Area

Programs: The Business Environmental Awards program recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of businesses with innovative sustainable programs. The program also recognizes leaders in the industry, and provides an educational forum that increases awareness and motivates all companies to adopt sustainable business practices. The Energy and Climate Program helps communities take action to reduce global warming by making their homes more energy efficient. We train volunteers, host energy and climate workshops, and create awareness of sustainable living practices. Our Public Lecture Series provides innovative and motivating lectures that build awareness of emerging environmental issues and solutions from leading thinkers in industry, government and nonprofits. Our new Go EV Program educates the public on how electric vehicles are a key to accelerating the shift from fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy. Acterra provides our constituents with the tools, information, and support they need in order to "Go EV." Program activities include workshops, Ride and Drive Events, and an EV Ambassadors program.

Community Stories

42 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Acterra's volunteers are passionate, informed, and fun! I admire the organization's breadth of work, high impact outreach, and ability to talk about environmental issues in a way that is appealing to diverse audiences.

Comments ( 1 )

Acterra_membership Thank you very much! We are glad Acterra is able to provide a breadth of environmental work that has considerable reach and impact for a wide variety of audience across SIlicon Valley!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I originally joined Acterra because it was an environmental organization with a very local focus and I could see the results of my volunteer efforts in my community. Acterra approaches its work with scientific integrity and a healthy dose of fun - my volunteer time always feels worthwhile. Recently I had the opportunity to work closely with Acterra's Redwood Grove Stewardship program in Los Altos and the partnership exceeded my expectations. I've observed the transformation of the Redwood Grove since Acterra was brought in to manage the restoration and the changes have been dramatic. I worked with the Redwood Grove Director, Junko Bryant, to create a partnership between the Shaped by Water Exhibition at the Los Altos History Museum and Acterra to bring in artists Daniel McCormick and Mary O'Brien to create a living sculpture to restore a streambank at the Redwood Grove. The sculpture was made from live willow and other native riparian plants and was built with the help of community volunteers over the course of several weekends. Acterra helped find funding for the project, coordinated the signup and management of volunteers, gathered native plant materials and provided tools and facilities that enabled the entire project to run smoothly. Part of what truly exceeded my expectations were the excellent relationships Acterra had built with City of Los Altos staff which enabled this unusual project to move forward without delay - the city staff had developed a great deal of trust in the work that Acterra is doing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I originally became involved with the Acterra stewardship project with my son, whose initial experience was through a school-sponsored program. We have been working with this project now for 3 years, and the changes in the redwood grove have been both subtle and dramatic. We appreciate the effort organized and managed by Acterra for projects that improve and sustain local habitats so that they may be enjoyed by current and future members of our town and surroundings. The Acterra staff, well represented by Junko Bryant, are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I really enjoy working with Acterra staff and volunteers in a nice park in my home town of Los Altos. It looks more beautiful at the end of every work day. And I a appreciate how much farther my city's dollars go when much of the work is done by volunteers who enjoy a friendly and useful work-out among the trees.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am the Treasurer of a small local community group who's mission is to lead and educate the community in local sustainability matters. My group became a fiscal program of Acterra effective July 1, 2011. Acterra is continuously evolving and seeking ways to accomplish meaningful environmental goals to make our planet a healthier place for current and future generations. Acterra's focus is on making a difference at the local level versus raising funds just to grow at any cost. Acterra's stewardship and fiscal programs are a great example of synergistic efforts to make a difference in the community. Acterra's newsletters and educational seminars are also extremely valuable in educating the community and making our planet a better place to live.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra is a local group with a long record of both taking direct action and empowering the action of individuals and other groups. Acterra keeps a native plant nursery and engages volunteers to remove invasive species and replace them with native plants. Acterra trains leaders in their year-long Be the Change course. They host numerous educational events around environmental issues and solutions. ( I just read about one on carbon offsets, today.) They train volunteers to help residents take simple actions to reduce their energy use and plan to reduce it further though their Green @ Home program. (I was a Green @ Home volunteer.) And now they focus on homes with high energy usage to make major energy reductions, resulting in an even larger impact. Acterra also supports the efforts of other local environemental groups, by co-sponsoring and publicizing their events through their e-newsletters and on-line calendar. (Our local group has benefited from such co-sponsorship. ) Acterra also serves as the umbrella organization for several local environmental groups that do not choose to become and independent non-profits, empowering local groups to continue useful work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a environmental nut and I love this organization - Acterra. After a great training, I'm able to visit a home and make recommendations concerning energy savings. It's a blast. Besides this Green-at-Home program, Acterra has other programs such as removing non-native plants in our parks. It's very hands on, which appeals to me. Not only can I help the environment, I can meet like-minded people, too.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered with Acterr's Green@home program for over two years now. From day 1 of the training I was very impressed with how much information we were being taught and how thorough the training was. The "hands on" experience learning tasks that we'd have to perform for residents was invaluable. (Especially the tricks for remembering which way plumbers tape goes on a low-flow aerator).

I really enjoy doing green@home "housecalls" for our local residents who are eager to learn ways to reduce their water, energy usage and carbon footprint. They are usually very appreciative of our efforts which makes for a very satisfying volunteer experience. And it warms my soul knowing I've helped make one more residence a little greener!

Everyone I've met affiliated with the organization and their supporters are warm, friendly and genuinely concerned for the environment. Like-minded individuals I want to be around!!!

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The passion and dedication of the folks who work at and volunteer for Acterra is amazing and the programs are well thought out and make use of proven behavior changing techniques. Their Be the Change leadership program was fantastic, and it has been a great experience to train with the Green@Home project and do some housecalls to improve energy efficiency and awareness.

18 Holly Harris

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra is beautifying one of our bike paths near the historic El Palo Alto. They do a great job planting natives and keeping the weeds there at bay.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

High points for really acting locally, engaging schools and homeowners in work that can make a difference. The energy audit program which should lead to weatherizing and insulating projects is one of the single most important things an average citizen can do to save energy.

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently became aware of a new program of Acterra's named ACTerra Green. As part of the effort to reduce our carbon footprint, Acterra is applying the latest learning in social marketing to motivate changes in behavior. ACTerra Green works at the community level, a school, church or workplace, and gives the entire community a challenge to reduce their energy usage. The individual effort is magnified by the power of the group, so each individual begins to believe they are really making a difference. Bravo Acterra!

15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

People may say that they wish to become involved locally but don't know where to begin. The Acterra EcoCalendar, a frequent listing of local environmental events ranging from movies and lectures to vigorous physical activities, provides a means for people of all ages and capabilities to participate in local environmental improvement. This is an easy way to discover how you may get involved in a way that suits you best. Find the Acterra EcoCalendar at http://www.acterra.org/calendar

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked for Acterra as a volunteer. The organization has vision, focus and a passion for the environment. They take thoughtful and intelligent steps to achieve their goals. Acterra's "green@home" program is one example of their vision of sustainability. Under the direction of trained volunteers, homeowners learn simple steps to reduce their overall consumption. Small steps, huge dividends.

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra has sponsored workdays to clean up our local creek (San Fransisquito Creek), and to improve creekside vegetation with removal of invasive non-native species and planting of native plants. The workdays have been well-organized and fun, with lots of participation. We count on Acterra to help our watershed. -- Julie Spickler Menlo Park, CA

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Best non-profit I have ever had the pleasure to know about. This organization is a shining example and a model for others to emulate. I'd like to start a grass-roots environmental organization in MY city, patterned after Acterra (though I still think of it as Bay Area Action, it's previous name).

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra has given a lot to the community by educating and inspiring youth with their highschools program, giving them the tools to take sustainability into their social lives and educating others to be more conscious with our precious Mother!

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra has been wonderful at helping our town plan ways to address home energy use. We initially hoped their existing Green@Home program would work for us, but quickly realized we wanted to customize it in various ways for our town. They have been very open to such changes, and very helpful in sorting out how to go about it. They've also helped us figure out the best ways to get funding for our initiatives. Five stars!

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra is a fantastic organization doing the needed work in home energy efficiency (through their Green @ Home program), their restoration activities, group and corporate green challenges (ACTerraGreen program), their Leadership Program (Be The Change), and several others. As a volunteer and donor, I have been amazed by the accomplishments and progress that this organization has made. They are a 38 year-old nonprofit organization bringing people together to create local solutions for a more healthy planet.

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra's mission is focused on teaching people how to make small, sustainable changes to their lives which collectively will have a huge impact on the environment. Their stewardship program focuses on restoring native plants at the Arastradero Preserve in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as educating local middle and high school students on the importance of being good stewards of the Earth. The youth are taken to one of several local parks to plant pollinator gardens, or they are brought to the preserve to understand how difficult it is to reverse poor environmental decisions of the past. As someone who has volunteered with the stewardship program, I know that restoring the local ecosystem is never-ending, back-breaking work. Most of the invasive plants in the area will take years, if not decades, to erradicate. And yet, even in the face of this enormous task, the staff are committed to restoring the habitat and using their work as a focal point for educating the community on the importance of protecting our habitat. By focusing on both repairing the damage done to the environment and preventing future damage, Acterra's programs provide a holistic approach to ending and reversing climate change.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Acterra has given me the chance to learn and practice the kind of life that I want to pass on to my children, grandchildren, and friends. Acterra through its many sustainable, environmental programs that I have taken advantage of has taught me over the years how to live a simple but fulfilled lifestyle with a small footprint on the earth. I have been knee deep in San Francisquito Creek and the baylands pulling out junk and non-native plants with my kids and learning about numerous sustainability programs from Bay area environmental leaders through "Be The Change"(an environmental leadership education program). These programs are but a few that I have taken advantage of from Acterra to support my community and the earth. My most recent involvement has been with a program called "Green @ Home" that goes into local homes and conduct an energy audit to help residents reduce their carbon footprint and save money on their utility bills. Acterra, in my estimation, is the penultimate environmental program that truly "acts locally for global benefit".