ChangeScale: Fostering Local Partnerships

    Mission statement 

    ChangeScale is a partnership effort in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area that are working together to advance the cohesiveness, effectiveness, and prominence of the field of environmental education. ChangeScale envisions a world where all generations have the environmental know-how to create healthy communities and a healthy planet.

    Core focus area 

    As part of our initial planning process in 2011, ChangeScale partners convened thought leaders nationwide to gain a deeper understanding of both the opportunities available and the challenges facing the field of environmental education. We conducted multiple convenings with practitioners, academics, public officials, and funders throughout the region and across the country. Our research revealed the need for:

    • Increasing the quality of environmental education efforts through incorporating research-based practices into program design, implementation, and evaluation;
    • Enhancing the relevance of environmental education programs so that the programming offered is designed by and for people from socioeconomically and culturally diverse communities and, at the same time, expanding access to environmental education for people from a range of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds;
    • Increasing engagement of environmental education by a wider range of sectors and stakeholders (e.g., for-profit, public, philanthropic) in the design and delivery of the environmental education system; and
    • Fostering collaboration within the environmental education community to facilitate unity in message, vision, and standards, and to enhance the quality program of delivery.

    Two Pronged Approach

    Since that time, ChangeScale has evolved to become a backbone institution to lead a two-pronged strategy over the course of five years (2015-2020):

    1. Support improved effectiveness of the field by improving collaboration, quality, relevance, and engagement by Bay Area environmental education providers.
    2. Forge community partnerships with schools that expand access to environmental education for 150,000 K-12 students in the Bay Area. .

    Thanks to the engagement of funders and partners, ChangeScale is leading innovation and developing best practices in the environmental education field, galvanizing the community around high-impact initiatives that no individual organization could realize on its own. In doing so, ChangeScale partners address challenges and opportunities in their local context, while also providing value to the field at the national level. ChangeScale has been intentionally designed to demonstrate impact and be a hub for primary research on environmental education—documenting lessons learned, creating tools and case studies, and sharing with key stakeholders that are working nationally to advance the field of environmental education.

    Since it’s launch in 2011, we have advanced our vision by supporting the field through professional development, sharing research and best practices, and launching our School Partnership Initiative to expand access to environmental education for 150,000 K-12 youth throughout the region. Key accomplishments include:

    • Launching the School District Partnership Initiative - ChangeScale is currently working with environmental education providers and four inaugural schools districts (Petaluma City Schools, Alameda Unified School District, Campbell Unified School District and Pajaro Valley Unified School District) to develop district wide strategies for integrating Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) while also increasing access to environmental education. ChangeScale’s School Partnership Initiative is becoming a model for the implementation of California Department of Education’s Blueprint for Environmental Literacy, and is currently being replicated with two Los Angeles County public school districts (Montebello Unified School District and Paramount Unified School District).
    • Facilitating quarterly professional development convenings for the Bay Area environmental education community on topics such as equity, inclusion, cultural relevancy in environmental education, integrating research and practice, collective impact, Next Generation Science Standards, and more. These convenings have engaged 170 organizations and more than 225 environmental learning practitioners, funders, and academic researchers.
    • Co-producing and disseminating the Environmental Education Research Bulletins, a collaborative project with Dr. Nicole Ardoin at Stanford University and the North American Association for Environmental Education. The research bulletins synthesize and summarize recently reported research from journals focused on issues pertaining to environmental educators. The bulletins include articles related to environmental education evaluation, sense of place, environmental behavior, teaching practices, and professional development, among other relevant topics.
    • Developing a community of practice around the incubation, development, implementation, and support of environmental learning pathways. Through the community of practice, ChangeScale is supporting a network of collaborative teams that are working to coordinate environmental education programming in communities across the Bay Area.

    ChangeScale’s dynamic approach to a collective initiative is not an easy task. It takes time, coordination of partners, and resources to grow a game-changing organization. In supporting ChangeScale, foundations are presented with a unique opportunity to play a critical role in the future of environmental education. By providing ChangeScale with oversight, direction, and funding, foundations are supporting individual programs working with ChangeScale, research and evaluation on environmental education, and sustainable partnerships in the field that aim to strengthen the roots of change.

    Details about funding for this case study are restricted to members only.