Schools for Climate Action

Help Energize the Education Sector to Speak Up for Climate Justice to Protect Students

A CCL Initiative

Janet- Hello Everyone! Thank you for choosing this breakout session to learn about Schools for Climate Action, a CCL Initiative. We hope you will join us in Energizing the Ed Sector to Speak up for Climate Justice in order to Protect Students.

Izzy- Schools for Climate Action (S4CA) is a non-partisan, grassroots, youth-adult campaign with a mission to empower schools to speak up for climate action in order to protect current and future generations. These pictures of some S4CAers were taken during our Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill in March, which we’ll tell you more about a bit later in the presentation, but that’s me in the top picture!

About Our Speakers

Nancy Metzger-Carter

Sustainability and Curriculum Coordinator Sonoma Academy,

Santa Rosa, CA

Izzy Ryan

Sonoma Academy Graduate Sustainability Leader

College Freshman Fall 2019

Schools for Climate Action

Janet Atkinson

Former Teacher

North Tahoe, CA CCL
Schools for Climate Action

Ethan: Today, our presentation team consists of….

About Our Speakers

Ethan Vandivier

7th Grade Maret School,

Washington DC

Congressional Liaison

Schools for Climate Action

Nora Schulman

7th Grade Lowell School,

Washington DC

Presenter at AAAS Conf.

Schools for Climate Action

Amelia McDonald

Sonoma Academy Graduate

Sustainability Leader

College Freshman Fall 2019
Schools for Climate Action

Izzy: (Introduce people on this slide.) We also have….

Why The Educational Sector ?

  • A trusted messenger
  • Expected to protect youth from harm
  • Represents 100,000+ elected leaders who speak on behalf of students

Amelia- Here’s why we are getting the ed sector involved. Who better to speak to Congress on behalf of millions of youth, than institutions whose purpose is to have their students’ best interests in mind and protect them from harm?

Who Can Pass Resolutions

for Climate Action?

-School Boards

-Student Leadership


-Independent Schools

-Teachers’ Unions

-Youth Organizations

-State/National Orgs.

-Community College Boards

© 2016 R. A. Knight

School Boards

Student Leadership


Educators’ Unions

State/National Organizations

Janet: We work with school boards, student councils, PTA’s, ….

Really quickly, these are just some of the actual groups that have been involved with our campaign and written Climate Action Resolutions…(Go through the logos with a laser pointer). Clarify AFT was before our campaign.

You can see the variety of groups that can speak on behalf of students.

A special shout out to Student Leadership: The S4CA campaign encourages student involvement in all of the resolutions. Whether it’s a school board or a state level organization, there usually are students involved in writing letters to board members and speaking at board meetings.

When student councils pass resolutions, youth are exercising their duty as elected leaders in their schools.

So you see, youth are engaged in the powerful process of taking civic action, which is important in providing hope.

It allows youth to understand how to make things happen in a democracy, and make their voices heard in boardrooms and the halls of Congress, while providing them with another action beyond school strikes in the streets.

K-12 student or recent graduate

Parent or Grandparent


Administrator, or School Employee

School Board Member

Member of an Allied or School Support Org.

Taxpayer who votes in a school district

Raise Your Hand If You Are A…

Nora: But first, we’d like to get to know something about you. . .

Ethan: Please raise your hand if you are a K-12 student or recent graduate. . .

Nora: Parent or grandparent of a student or recent grad. . .

Ethan: Current or Retired Teacher, school administrator, or school employee. . .

Nora: School board member or former school board member. . .

Ethan: Raise your hand if you are a member of a school support organization or allied organization, like Association of School Nurses or a Community Youth Organization.

Nora: Raise your hand if you are a taxpayer or someone who votes.

Ethan: Everyone can be involved with Schools for Climate Action!

We have two choices. We can be pessimistic...or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place….”

Noam Chomsky

Why I Choose Optimism Over Despair

Nancy: Here is a picture of some adults and about 200 students with Schools for Climate Action before they embarked on delivering ed sector resolutions to Members of Congress.

We are in this together because as Noam Chomsky says,

“We have two choices. We can be pessimistic or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place.”

Schools for Climate Action

Started by California CCLer

Park Guthrie and his children around the time of the Tubbs Fire. More than a dozen Sonoma school boards have now passed Climate Action Resolutions, and many list fire severity as an impact of climate change.

This meeting was canceled due to the nearby fires and smoke.

Izzy: Here’s a little background on the origins of Schools for Climate Action.

S4CA was started by California CCLer, Park Guthrie and his children around the time of the Tubbs Fire. Park and his children felt that schools should not only be teaching about Climate Change, but they should be taking action. Since that time, more than a dozen Sonoma school boards have passed Climate Action Resolutions. Many of them list fire severity as an impact of climate change.

Tell about the picture- and if you are comfortable, mention what was happening in your life at the time.

We Help Pass Resolutions That…

© 2016 R. A. Knight

  • Drive a paradigm shift so people recognize climate change as a generational justice issue.

  • Build political will for Members of Congress to act.

  • Celebrate and expand school responses to climate change.

Amelia: We help teams of youth and adult stakeholders to work with their school boards to pass resolutions that do 3 things. . .

One, drive a paradigm shift so people recognize climate change as a generational justice issue.

Two, clearly articulate the political will for all elected leaders to support or enact common-sense climate policies (such as national carbon pricing).

And three, celebrate and expand school district responses to climate change.

Go to

Nancy: As one of the first steps in working with the Schools for Climate Action Initiative, we recommend that you visit our website and become familiar with it. One of the most important tabs, is Who Has Spoken Up. Under this tab (Use laser pointer)- you’ll be able to see all of the actual resolutions that have passed so far. It helps to see the format and language of the resolutions. You’ll also see the variety of institutions that are passing Climate Action Resolutions.

The S4CA Website

  • Toolkits
  • Letter templates
  • Model resolutions
  • Webinars
  • Articles and more!

articles and more!

Ethan: In addition, the Schools for Climate Action website has:

Toolkits, letter templates, model resolutions, webinars, articles, and more!

By the way, this picture up top shows the Schools For Climate Action Summit that we held on Capitol Hill with expert and congressional panels. It was well attended!

The First Steps Are Easy!

Research your school district or school support organization. Find email contacts, look for awards, policy, and work in environment, sustainability, & equity.

Meet individually with board members or go to a board meeting and speak at Open Comment.




Send an email to the board members.

(*Note to students going for Student Council Resolutions….)

Janet: Here’s how to get started, broken into 3 steps. Step #1 get online.

Find out your school district, your next school board meeting, and the contact emails for your school members. Send them a short, polite email (we have templates you can use on our website).

Hopefully, you’ll hear back from a board member and can set up a time to meet to discuss passing a climate action resolution.

A quick word on Open Comment period. By law, at every school board meeting, there must be some time reserved for “public comment” on items not on the agenda. You don’t need permission from anyone. You don’t have to be a student or teacher or parent. There are not even residency requirements for open comment. Just show up at the board meeting and give a 1-3 minute statement during open comment period. We have templates you can use on our website.

- To note, if you have followed these steps, your board members will have already heard your request through the letter that you emailed to them.

Important tip: School board agendas usually come out 72 hours ahead of the meeting. It’s good to have a look at that, so you can see when the Open Comment time is. It’s also good to scan the agenda online, just in case your proposed resolution has already been included- thanks to your email!

After you speak, send a follow-up email to your board members and Superintendent (We have templates you can use on our website!)

Special Note to STUDENTS who want to get their student council to pass a resolution. The steps are a little different. You can write a draft with a smaller group of students first- for example, maybe your environmental club would write it up. Then you can take it to your student council and explain it. But that’s just an example- If you are already on the student council or know people in it, then it could be easier to start there. You’ll need to have time on the student council agenda to share.

Novato Unified School District

11th Resolution in April, 2018

© 2016 R. A. Knight

  • 2 students
  • 3 Emails
  • 2 School Board Meetings

1 Resolution in 1 Month!

Izzy: It seems so easy right?

Izzy: We have seen it over and over again. Yes, it can be that easy!

In this school district, it only took 2 students + 3 emails + 2 school board meetings, which produced 1 resolution in 1 month!

In another district, it was just ONE email.

And in yet another district, a board member saw about our initiative on Twitter! She brought it to her board, and they went ahead and passed a resolution- even without anyone advocating through emails or in person!

This is a positive, largely symbolic action that board members can take. It can even be a WIN for districts who are in turmoil. It’s empowering to all. Many school districts don’t know they can pass a climate action resolution. No one has asked!

And here’s a tip: Don’t overthink this. If you start to think that the district isn’t ready for taking a stand, you really could be surprised. Likely, the board members are parents and grandparents, and might be following the climate crisis. This could be their way of contributing to positive change in America.

And you know the old saying, “It never hurts to ask!”

Amelia: You can see here that of resolutions that have passed, one third have been passed as a result of an intergenerational team. Typical teams include parents, students, teachers, and CCL community members.

Nancy: The 2nd biggest driver of resolutions passed so far, is the network effect. Literally. 5 of our resolutions passed with little or no advocacy from CCL or S4CA champions. You can activate the network effect with regular, respectful emails sharing news of other school districts passing climate action resolutions.

Amelia: Several of the campaigns have been led only by youth while several others have been led primarily by teachers.

Nancy: There is no single right path to a school board climate action resolution; the only wrong path is not starting because you don’t think you’ll be successful :).

What’s in Ed Sector

Climate Action Resolutions?


- There’s scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming.

- CC is a children’s issue, a generational justice and human rights issue, and a social justice and equity issue.

- The global impact, urgency, and magnitude of the challenge of addressing cc calls for leadership in all sectors of society.

Ethan: Here are some of the things we see in most Climate Action Resolutions.

-There’s scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming.

-Climate change is a children’s issue, a generational justice and human rights issue, and a social justice and equity issue.

-The global impact, urgency, and magnitude of the challenge of addressing climate change calls for leadership in all sectors of society.

If you are helping to draft a resolution, please try to include these things because they validate the science of climate change, it’s impact on people, it’s urgency, and the need for leadership on the issue.

The end is the good part!

Be it resolved that,

  • We call on Congress to take swift and effective action on cc to protect current and future generations.

(such as...enacting common sense climate policies/placing a price on pollution/ceasing subsidies for fossil fuels/investing in clean energy/carbon pricing/revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend….)

Be it further resolved that,

  • We will transmit copies of this resolution to ...other student councils, PTA’s, school boards, Members of Congress, CSC, NSBA.

Janet: The best part is at the end of resolutions-

Of course, it’s also sent to the Member of Congress for that area, and usually the CSC, and the NSBA.

Tips- What could go wrong?

If the process goes past two months, something might not be right.

Here’s some things that can stall the resolution or stop momentum:

Asking the district or organization to: form a climate committee, endorse legislation, meet certain metrics, meet with teachers to check on their curriculum, or spend money ie. hire new teachers, do studies on sustainability measures, redo their food department procedures.

Let the institution decide how much or how little they want to commit to. The important thing is they are taking a stand.

Janet: Here’s what I’ve found when I mentor people in this process. If it starts to go past two months, something might not be right. Here’s some things that can stall the resolution or stop momentum:

(Read the issues.)

It’s so important to let the institution decide how much or how little they want to commit to.

S4CA’s Advocacy Days in DC in March

Nancy: Just a few months ago, students from around the country came to Washington DC to advocate with Schools for Climate Action.

Students have been involved in passing resolutions at the local levels, and they were a part of planning the Congressional meetings too.

Here’s what we accomplished:

(Using laser pointer, go through the pictures quickly. Make sure to identify Members of Congress and any of our presentation team in the pictures.)

Ethan: (Starting in the top left corner)

Here, we have Rep. Lujan from New Mexico, with a student who helped pass a resolution at the Santa Fe Indian School. Then we have two student speakers, and there’s ME- telling Rep. Raskin about Schools for Climate Action!

Here’s Sen. Whitehouse speaking at our Summit, then here’s me in a meeting with __________.

Here’s a team with Rep. Carbajal, and Rep. Thompson speaking at our Summit.

Amelia: (TOP middle) Let’s start right here, with Ethan and Nora in the Halls of Congress!

(Share about others if you wish- might skip some.)

You might know these ladies- Here’s Author Lynne Cherry of Young Voices for the Planet, and Natalie Mebane with the Zero Hour/Sierra Club.

Izzy: We were very busy- as you can see! (Pointing to the middle picture) We even had a team meet with directors at the Department of Education about the Green Ribbon Schools Program! The Dept.of Ed. is now featuring S4CA prominently on it’s resource website called Green Strides.

-Here’s Park Guthrie, co-founder of S4CA.

-Here’s Ethan at Sen. Whitehous’s office.

- And here I am. This was for a meeting with Rep. LaMalfa who represents the town of Paradise,where the CAMP fire became known as deadliest wildfire in history. This family came from that impacted area- and we spoke of the climate connection to wildfire and how it impacts children and families.

Nora- This is the sign we held everywhere we went during our DC Advocacy on the Hill in March. THIS is our overall message:


Partner Activities-Chose One or More

  • Practice Open Comment Statements

Read the handout and practice a sample 1-2 minute statement you might make at a School Board Open Comment Period.

2. Brainstorm: Who You Can Contact to Ask for a Resolution?

3. Brainstorm: Who Can Help in the Process?

People with community ties, from a variety of backgrounds and stakeholder groups, other climate concerned groups (like Moms Out Front, Moms Clean Air Force, Climate Parents).

Janet: And-Here are some partner activities!

Time For Questions

Nancy: Now it’s time for questions.



Janet Atkinson @janetatk_s4ca E-mail: Phone: 530-828-3693






Thank you for attending this session.

-If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I frequently help CCLers get started or troubleshoot problems in the process.

-You’ll notice Twitter handles here. Schools for Climate Action and myself are active on Twitter- and have made valuable connections through it. Please follow us and retweet!

Lastly, make sure that if you get a resolution passed, it is sent to

And if you’d like to communicate directly with Park Guthrie, founder of S4CA, you can reach him at

2019 Schools for Climate Action for CCL Conference slide deck - Google Slides