About the Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Initiative

The San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) launched the Environmental Literacy Initiative at the start of the 2017-18 school year. The initiative's vision is for school communities and leaders who advocate for and prioritize whole-school sustainability integration and environmental literacy for all students. This whole-school approach means that environmental literacy takes place across all aspects of the institution: Campus and operations, Curriculum and instruction, Community programs and partnerships, and overall Culture or 4Cs. The initiative was renamed as the Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Initiative to reflect this whole-school approach. To learn more about the initiative please visit the following pages:


Through a variety of programs and efforts, SMCOE equips school communities with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to act individually and collectively to bring forward an environmentally sustainable and just existence. Learn more about SMCOE's Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Initiative Programs below (listed in alphabetical order), and explore the links to visit program pages: 

  • Collective Impact - Campus as a Laboratory for Learning Program: This program utilizes the Collective Impact Approach, to bring together school districts and their broader community, to achieve greening facilities and operations, and utilize these efforts in curriculum and instruction as a laboratory for learning. To learn more about this program visit Collective Impact - Campus as a Laboratory for Learning.
  • Community Based Environmental Literacy Partners (CBELP) Network: SMCOE convenes this network of Community Based Environmental Literacy Partners. The purpose of this network is to foster collaboration, build capacity and consistency in programs alignment, and further integrate into districts and schools. To learn more about this network visit Community Based Environmental Literacy Partners (CBELP) Network.
  • Educators for a Sustainable Future Leadership Program (under development - program will start in January 2020).
  • Environmental Literacy Initiative Community of Practice: SMCOE convenes a network of educators on a quarterly basis to focus on the knowledge, skills, and values needed for moving environmental literacy forward across a school’s Campus and Operations, Curriculum and Instruction, and Community and Culture. To learn more about this program visit Environmental Literacy Community of Practice.
  • Environmental Youth Leadership Network and Summits: The Environmental Youth Leaders Network (EYLN) brings together 7th-12th graders who are eager to make an environmental sustainability impact in their community. The network convenes for three annual summits in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. To learn more about EYLN please visit Environmental Youth Leadership Network and Summits
  • One Planet Schools Challenge: This recognition and awards program fosters a culture of sustainability in school communities across the county by providing a structure and roadmap for achieving the vision of whole-school sustainability integration. The San Mateo County One Planet Schools Challenge identifies champions who are leading meaningful change and recognizes and/or awards them for their impact towards creating a sustainable future. To learn more about the One Planet Schools Challenge visit SMC One Planet Schools Challenge
  • Schools for a Sustainable Future Summit: This annual one-day summit creates the space for networking, problem-solving, and exchanging innovative solutions that are driving environmental and social transformation across school communities. To learn more about the summit visit Schools for a Sustainable Future Summit
  • SMELC Teacher Fellowships: The San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative (SMELC) is a series of PAID Teacher Fellowships that build teacher capacity for designing and delivering learning experiences that are student-centered, problem- and project-based, solutions-oriented, and integrate real-world environmental and social issues. To learn more about SMELC programs visit SMELC Teacher Fellowship Programs.

One Planet Schools Challenge

The One Planet Schools Challenge identifies leaders who are doing meaningful sustainability work at districts and schools and to recognize them for their impact on the greater community. This recognition and awards program fosters a culture of sustainability in school communities across the county by providing a structure and roadmap for achieving the vision of whole-school sustainability integration.


SMCOE's Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Initiative has put together a number of resources to support stakeholders to be champions of whole-school sustainability integration. 

  • Outdoor Learning: Access resources for repurposing outdoor spaces for learning, which is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature.
  • Green Campus (Facilities and Operations): Access resources for greening a school community's facilities and operational practices (i.e. reducing the ecological footprint and GHG emissions). Resources also include how to leverage these campus changes as a laboratory for student learning.
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Access resources that support integrating environmental sustainability topics and issues into all areas of curriculum and instruction. Resource examples include model lessons and units, standards, professional learning, field trips, and environmental education providers, sustainable libraries, etc. 
  • Community Engagement: Access resources that support engaging the entire community in a shift towards a sustainable future. Resource examples include board resolutions, community-based organizations, student engagement for civic and collective action, sustainability aligned networks and organizations, etc.
  • Environmental Literacy Funding: Access a list of ongoing and one-time funding opportunities to support integrating environmental sustainability into the Campus, Curriculum, and Community.

Andra Yeghoian

Environmental Education Coordinator

Email: ayeghoian@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5406