2013 Grants Challenge

LA Green Teen Summit: 2050 and Beyond

ACE knows that LA teens are motivated and passionate about their city. We’ve seen it in the work we’ve been doing in LA high schools for the past four years, delivering climate science education and action programs to students. Most recently, we saw it when our students joined the Forward on Climate Rally on March 17th, 2013, gaining the attention of the public, the media, and the White House.

LA’s game changers are in our high schools. This generation is more mobile and better connected than ever before, with new technology and social networking revolutionizing their potential to share ideas, build a movement and drive significant and sustainable change.

We want to bring all that energy, commitment and innovation together, in one room, and engage LA’s youth in leading the changes we need to see in our city.

Over 200 high school seniors drawn from schools across LA, will be invited to participate in an LA Green Teen Summit, networking with their peers and connecting their shared passion to lead the movement against climate change and a vision of their city’s future – environmentally and economically sustainable and thriving.

ACE will organize and deliver the two-day event, which will include seminars and training sessions co-facilitated by key individuals from partner organizations, as well as plenary presentations and Q&A. Students will have the opportunity to take part in education experiences as well as skills sessions, where they will learn team working, leadership and campaign skills, such as effective lobbying and public speaking.

ACE’s team in LA will leverage their unparalleled reach into high schools across the city, through relationships with teachers, administrators and school districts, to invite teens together for the Green Teen Summit.

The Summit may be scheduled to coincide with PowerShift 2013, drawing from and in solidarity with the event in Pittsburgh, PA on October 18-21. http://www.wearepowershift.org/

ACE Educators in LA will bring campaign organizing expertise, building from student leadership training and mentoring that they have been delivering over the past 3 years.

With the support of ACE trainings and mentorship, ACE’s green teen leaders have crafted a mission and message for “Waste Free Schools” in LA, that they will be delivering to City Hall via a peaceful, student-led rally at the CicLAvia event on April 21, 2013. http://www.ciclavia.org/


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Since 2008, ACE has reached more than 1.5 million teens in over 2,000 schools across the country. Over 35,000 students in environmental action teams, have completed over 1,500 climate-saving projects in their schools and communities. Nearly 2,000 young people have attended ACE Leadership Trainings and we have elevated the voice of 9 Youth Reps – the most dedicated, passionate youth climate leaders nationwide.

The video showing the impact of Santa Monica High School’s “Team Marine” is one example of the kind of student action and leadership that ACE supports and inspires. ACE took our multimedia assembly there in 2010 and our Educators have been working with Team Marine ever since. They have a highly engaged faculty sponsor, they won ACE’s “Star Wars” campaign a few years back, they took on our Biggest Loser Energy Challenge, and they used an ACE starter grant towards building an electric car:


Also, in January 2012, Kavi Reddy, an ACE Youth Advisory Board member, was the keynote speaker at SMUD's (Sacramento Municipal Utility District's) Youth Energy Summit. In 2011, in April 2011, ACE youth went to the White House to speak with Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, about scaling energy-efficiency in U.S. public schools. ACE's programs provide both a foundation of knowledge in climate science, as well as the resources and support to turn that knowledge into action.

In the school year 2011-12, we both reached our 1 millionth student and received the EPA Region 1 (New England) Merit Award for outstanding contributions to preserving and protecting the environment, alongside renowned advocates like Gary Hirshberg, President and CEO of Stonyfield Farms.

In addition to this prestigious award, ACE was named Climate Change Communicator of the Year by George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication and received the 2011 Breathe California Clean Air Award for Public Awareness and Education.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Partners from organizations such as Rock the Vote, Climate Resolve, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, and 350.org will be engaged to co-facilitate the summit with ACE Educators, delivering skills sessions in their areas of expertise, such as messaging, public speaking, organizing, and lobbying skills. ACE has existing relationships with groups and individuals from these and other, LA-based organizations, who will be invited to deliver seminar-style training sessions for students.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

Using Salesforce, ACE maintains a robust macrometrics system, tracking efficiency and output of our educator force nationwide as well as our activities in schools and with partner organizations. For instance, we track the impact of our education, action and leadership programs, including number of participating students, carbon-cutting projects completed, CO2 reduction achieved through projects, sustainability commitments pledged, and youth leaders trained.

This year, new metrics reflect ACE’s strategic focus on deeper, more sustainable outcomes and measuring the true impact of our programs, including youth voice stories, level of teacher engagement, and student influence in each of ACE’s regions and nationally.

In 2011, ACE implemented a behavior change survey, a national evaluation effort designed to better track program impact on students served. Working in close collaboration with survey experts at the Yale School of the Environment and Stanford University’s Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute, ACE surveyed its impact on science literacy, student behavior, and student attitudes related to climate. Summary results showed that:

Before the ACE Assembly, only 34% of students passed a basic climate science test.

After the ACE Assembly:

==> 59% of students passed the climate science knowledge test.

==> We saw a 35% decrease in students categorized as Disengaged, Doubtful, or Dismissive.

==> We saw a 40% increase in students categorized as Concerned or Alarmed.

==> 48% of students felt more confident in their ability to help start a project to reduce their school’s carbon footprint.

==> The intention to ask parents or friends to reduce their footprints increased in 60% of students.

In fall 2012, ACE published the results of our national student survey effort and presented at prestigious research conferences including the AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall Meeting, BECC (Behavior, Energy and Climate Change) Conference, and Culture, Politics, and Climate Change International Conference.

ACE plans to continue and expand our survey effort, building valuable data against which we can rigorously evaluate the impact of our programs. ACE also plans to begin a new evaluation project, tracking individual students over longer periods of time to identify their retention of knowledge and behavior change as well as their influence on parents' and household energy behaviors.

We will build on this firm foundation of survey and evaluation expertise to capture and report on the specific outcomes and results from ACE’s LA2050 program.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Over the course of the LA Green Teen Summit, these young leaders will identify the “hot topic” for LA that they want to focus on in the coming semester. This might be greening their local community, starting with elevating the rate of waste recovery on their school campus, through to carbon reduction initiatives in support of LA’s goals to reduce its emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Following the Summit, ACE will support the students in taking action on the key issue that they identified as critical for immediate priority. Taking the skills that they learned, youth leaders will come together in smaller teams to tackle the issue in their local communities, share their ideas for citywide action and campaign for the initiatives that they want to see implemented.

ACE will offer mentoring and guidance, connecting teens to relevant partners and helping them to arrange meetings with district authorities, local politicians, and civic leaders.

Student leaders will be connected to each other at the Summit and beyond, through online interactions and offline actions that they will take together, supported by ACE.

In December, the teens will come together again for a half-day Town Hall meeting with key representatives from the city of LA and local media. Selected student leaders, supported by their peers, will address the panel of guests and lobby for the changes that they want to see in their city. The city representatives will be given the opportunity to respond with a facilitated Q&A session.

The event will be set up and publicized well in advance, providing an opportunity for the city authorities to hear the collective voice of youth speak about what they want to see happen now – and over the next 10, 20, 30 years – to ensure a thriving, sustainable future for LA.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

ACE has a vision for LA and the nation, in which a generation of informed and connected American youth realizes its potential to act, innovate and influence others as an organized force to successfully confront the climate crisis. Through a strategy that emphasizes individual commitment and collective impact, we believe young people can catalyze public sector leadership, inspire worldview change, and drive economic transformation to mitigate the causes and consequences of climate change.

The climate crisis is the greatest threat humanity has seen and our time to solve this crisis is limited. The emerging generation of young leaders needs to be equipped to lead large-scale breakthroughs that will chart a fundamentally different course. The missing ingredient is a coordinated effort to educate, connect and inspire this generation to rewrite the future.

ACE’s mission is to educate young people, to fundamentally shift the attitude and behavior of a generation and build the will to solve the climate crisis now. We want to see innovations, policies and practices led and implemented by an alliance of young, connected and diverse change-agents for the climate.