Student Sustainability Program
Sustainable Works' Student Sustainability Program combines hands-on and real-world interactive experiences with topic-based workshops to create an all-encompassing educational experience for students. Through the use of sustainable tools and actions that can be applied immediately in students' lives, they are able to quickly change their behavior and reduce the use of the earth's natural resources. The six areas of focus are: Water, Energy, Waste/Shopping, Chemicals, Transportation and Food.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Climate and Environment
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Gabriel Valley
San Fernando Valley
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
LA has many pressing environmental threats impacting its citizens, including poor air quality, climate change, drought & plastic pollution. Sustainable Works assists communities in reaching their sustainability goals to mitigate these threats. We hasten the adoption of sustainable practices that lead to positive environmental impacts by bringing our Sustainability Program to more people in LA. For positive environmental change, people need to act. Most people want to get involved, but don’t know where to start. Sustainable Works addresses this by educating on specific issues and giving program participants concrete actions they can take. In the report "Mainstreaming low-carbon lifestyles" from the organization Climate Outreach, it was concluded that behavior change campaigns must build confidence and self-efficacy in the participant’s ability to act. To build the confidence in student participants, Sustainable Works offers a peer-to-peer approach that focuses on individual action.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
In addition to funding 11 Student Workshops per semester at SMC, which lost long standing funding due to Covid, we will add up to 2 additional workshops for the 2022-23 school year and expand the program to 2 workshops per semester at 2 additional LA County colleges (specific colleges, TBD). Since 2002, the SMC workshops have been offered as extra credit by over 60 professors/year and enroll approximately 500 students/year. They create an all-encompassing understanding of environmental issues, actions, and career opportunities in sustainability fields. Guided by a Workshop Leader, topics are explored through group discussions, interactive activities, presentations, and field trips. The peer-to-peer format utilizes “social diffusion”. Research shows that social diffusion speeds up the process of adopting new behaviors when information comes through conversations with people we trust or people we perceive to be similar to ourselves. Students participate in 3-hour community service projects. Top performing students can participate as workshop leaders & are trained to guide the next round of workshops. This is a unique opportunity for students to help educate their peers while enhancing their own leadership, public speaking, and organizational skills. “Had I not taken this program I would not have been aware of all of the resources that LA county has for people and businesses interested in becoming more sustainable.” -SMC Student ‘21
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
In the short term, our goal is to reach more LA County college students to create the adoption of sustainable behaviors. Through learned sustainable actions, Sustainable Works is creating a more informed public that is empowered to act. The education that Workshop participants receive does not end when the Workshops end, rather a chain of sustainable practices is created as they share their knowledge within their communities. We strive to learn from students and their communities, which helps to inform future Workshops that in turn leads to a more effective program. In the long-term our goal is to expand our program model to more educational institutions throughout LA County in order to make sustainable practices the norm. “I was able to gather so much significant information on how to incorporate sustainable practices in my daily life, and advocate for them. I can now educate people in my life and others on my teachings, in turn influencing them to do the same.” - SMC student ‘22
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Sustainable Works has a successful track record of providing and sustaining high quality programs that create a positive impact. Our Before and After Surveys allow us to see movement towards sustainable practices and at the same time, find areas of improvement for the workshops. By the close of the Workshops, students report, on average, an improvement of 22% in their belief of ease of implementation of sustainable practices and we see on average that students reach a 99% consensus that they understand what behaviors and habits support sustainable living. In conjunction with SMC, a study on the past 5 years (Fall ‘15-Spring ‘20) of students who have attended the Workshops was conducted. The analysis showed that students who attended the Workshops had a higher course success rate when compared to non-participating students. For Black and Latinx students there was a higher percentage gain in course success rate by participating in workshops, 55% and 50% respectively.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 800
Indirect Impact: 1,200