CEC is delighted to welcome EcoRise as a new member organization. EcoRise develops curriculum that introduces students to sustainability, environmental literacy, social innovation, and hands-on design skills. They also offer extensive teacher professional development for the EcoRise curriculum and best-practice classroom strategies. For students, EcoRise funds a student grant program to help student innovations come to life.
The organization’s mission is to empower youth to become the new generation of leaders that will design a sustainable future for all. EcoRise does this by enhancing STEM education; promoting sustainability; exposing students to green careers, green professionals, and green technology; and helping students develop 21st century skills including creativity and innovation in schools and virtual classrooms across the world.
EcoRise began in 2008 in Austin serving one school. During the 2019–2020 school year, their curriculum was used by nearly 4,400 teachers in more than 1,700 schools in 49 states and 49 countries, impacting over 246,000 students. In March 2020, as schools were shuttered across the U.S. due to the Coronavirus pandemic, EcoRise acted swiftly to adapt to a remote learning environment by transforming resources and virtually supporting their partner districts and teachers. In the 2020–21 school year, they are continuing to transform their programs to serve students and teachers no matter their learning environment.
The EcoRise curricula focus on incorporating sustainability and design innovation into elementary, middle, and high school classrooms across all subjects. Their curriculum offerings include:
- Sustainable Intelligence, a PreK–12, project-based learning curriculum that builds sustainability knowledge across seven eco-themes: water, waste, food, energy, air, public spaces, and transportation. SI also includes the Electric Vehicle Lessons for Schools, Understanding Our Water Footprint lessons, and the upcoming Introduction to Environmental Justice lessons.
- Green Building Lessons for a Sustainable World which prepares high school students to enter the green workforce with an understanding of green building techniques, sustainability, and climate resiliency. The curriculum also offers an optional pathway for students to take the LEEDⓒ Green Associate™️ Exam, gaining a valuable professional credential.
- Biomimicry and Science which challenges high school and middle school chemistry, physics, and biology students to look at “nature as a mentor” in order to solve sustainability challenges.
- Design Studio which guides students to develop and implement creative solutions to pressing problems using EcoRise’s design-thinking process.
- The Business of Social Good which introduces students to social entrepreneurship and design innovation and guides them through a capstone project to develop and pitch their own business ideas.
In addition to curriculum, EcoRise offers multiple types of teacher workshops throughout the year. From their Project-Based Learning Academy to outdoor learning workshops to curriculum specific trainings, EcoRise provides professional development opportunities and one-on-one support for their educators to ensure success for their educators. Check out their upcoming workshops here.
The Student Innovation Fund provides grants to students who complete an Eco-Audit on their campus and use the data to identify and design a solution to sustainability problems in their school/community. In 2018–2019, EcoRise awarded over $56,000 in Eco-Audit grants to 127 student innovators. In 2019–2020, only $26,250 was awarded to 51 student projects, but 2/3rds of the grants were awarded while students were attending school virtually due to COVID-19. Students who receive a grant award for an Eco-Audit project are typically invited to participate in a Regional Student Innovation Showcase which has been expanded to include virtual showcases in 2020. These showcases are hosted each spring across the country to celebrate the next generation of innovators giving them a platform to present their green campus innovations.