Twenty stand-out leaders received a Sustainable and Climate Resilient Schools (SCRS) Challenge award for their innovative sustainability efforts during the 2020-21 school year. Five of these leaders received a financial award, funded by Peninsula Clean Energy, to support the next phase of their projects. Learn more about the submissions below.

Financial Award Winners

Students build a community gardenYouth Climate Ambassadors
in partnership with Arbor Bay School

Food Systems; Campus and Curriculum 

During the fall months of 2020, Youth Climate Ambassadors Mira Bhatt and Katinka Lennemann set up an edible garden and composting tumblers at a local K-8 school for children with mild/moderate learning differences called Arbor Bay School. Not only did this project’s goals aim to include more greenery at the Arbor Bay campus, but it also was to encourage hands-on learning with students and awareness about how our food systems connect to climate change. Growing food locally at home (or at schools) encourages eating healthy and fresh vegetables for young students.

Read more about this project.

Students clean up trashMillbrae Leos Club
in partnership with Millbrae Lions, City of Millbrae, NexTrex, Safeway, and other civic groups

Eco-Footprint, Marine Ecosystems, Zero Waste and Consumption; Community and Culture 

The Millbrae Leos Club members are concerned about the use of plastic bags and the potential damage to the environment. Realizing the power of collective action to improve their community, with support from the City of Millbrae, Millbrae Lions, and the Millbrae Safeway, the Leos partnered with Trex Lumber on the NexTrex plastic recycling program. For every 500 pounds of plastic they recycled, the city will be rewarded with a plastic bench. So far, the club has collected approximately 1,750 pounds of plastic and received three benches.

Read more about this project.

Students place recycling bins and educational posters around campusDesign Tech High School
San Mateo Union High School District

Zero Waste and Consumption; Community and Culture 

The Green Team at Design Tech High School conducted a campus-wide baseline assessment, which led them to discover a lack of proper waste infrastructure at the school. With help from Recology, they applied for a state grant to upgrade the school’s waste management infrastructure, designed signage for the bins, installed a tri bin system, and created an image classifier leveraging artificial intelligence and neural networks to help students identify what bin their waste goes in with a 98 percent accuracy rate. The team also implemented training within the homeroom curriculum, school assembly presentations, and other outreach techniques.

Read more about this project.

Students start an upcycling initiativeStudents build a community gardenCarlmont High School
Sequoia Union High School District

Climate Resilience, Land-Based Ecosystems, Zero Waste and Consumption; Community and Culture/Zero Waste and Consumption; Community and Culture

Two projects submitted by Carlmont High School received a financial award:

  • Green Team and ASB: Students from the Green Team and the Associated Student Body (ASB) Human Relations committee collaborated on the community garden to promote biodiversity, decrease water usage by using native plants, create a pleasant space for students to enjoy during breaks, and educate students on the significance of native gardening. Read more about this project.
  • DIY Earthcycle Club: The DIY Earthcycle organization teaches members and the community how to turn items that typically would have ended up in the landfill into new, usable items through the power of upcycling. Read more about this project.

Students write articles in the school newspaperStudents build models of energy-efficient homesAudubon Elementary School, Bayside Academy
San Mateo-Foster City School District

Zero Carbon Energy; Curriculum, Community and Culture/Food Systems; Campus and Curriculum 

Two schools within the San Mateo-Foster City School District received a financial award:

  • Audubon Elementary School: Jennifer Young’s fourth-grade students conducted home surveys to learn how their homes use energy and how many outlets and appliances they have. Students created energy-efficient homes and discussed equity issues like who has options for solar energy and why certain forms of energy might be used in certain communities. Read more about this project.
  • Bayside Academy: Bayside Academy eighth-graders became concerned about the worsening energy crisis and global warming and wanted to do something about it. They worked across school clubs to spread the word to the school community. They also wrote and circulated a petition to install solar panels. The petition will be forwarded to the district facility director and business official. Read more about this project.

Standout Leaders

Name Topic(s) Pathway(s)
San Mateo Union High School District Climate Change and More Campus Curriculum, Community and Culture
Crystal Springs Uplands School Ecological Footprint, Zero Waste and Consumption Community and Culture
Carlmont High School (Sequoia Union High School District) Climate Resilience: Adaptation and Ecological Footprint Campus and Community
Carlmont High School (Sequoia Union High School District) Climate Resilience: Adaptation, Land-Based Ecosystems, Zero Waste and Consumption Community and Culture
Kylie Johnson (Woodside Elementary School District) Zero Waste and Consumption Community and Culture
Tierra Linda Middle School (San Carlos School District) Ecological Footprint, Marine Ecosystems and Shoreline, Zero Waste and Consumption  Curriculum, Community and Culture
The Carey School Zero Waste and Consumption Campus Curriculum, Community and Culture
Charlotte Westervelt and Caitlin Hayden (Woodside Elementary School District) Land-Based Ecosystems Community and Culture
Alexa Hedgehold (Woodside Elementary School District) Land-Based Ecosystems Curriculum, Community and Culture
Nueva School Ecological Footprint, Zero Carbon Energy Community and Culture
Carlmont High School (Sequoia Union High School District) Sustainable Watershed Curriculum, Community and Culture
Carlmont High School Business Club (Sequoia Union High School District) Ecological Footprint, Climate Resilience, Air Quality, Sustainable Transportation  Community and Culture
South San Francisco High School (South San Francisco Unified School District)  Green Building and Grounds, Land-Based Ecosystems Campus Curriculum, Community and Culture