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SEI: Building Leaders for a Resilient World 2020 Impact Report

About Us

For 24 years, SEI has partnered with schools, communities, and businesses to develop a sustainability leadership pathway from elementary school to early career. Our flagship programs (Energize Schools, Energize Colleges, School of Environmental Leadership, and Climate Corps) educate and empower students and emerging professionals to create thriving, resilient communities.

2020 was a formative year for SEI. Some of our milestones were:

  • Transitioning to virtual education and training amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic - with the silver lining of expanding our offerings and reach
  • Growing our work into new corners of the nation, specifically the Pacific Northwest, the Navajo Nation, and New York
  • Formalizing our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy and participating in facilitated workshops & trainings on racial equity
  • Receiving a record number of applicants to our Climate Corps fellowship program, indicating the real need and value of our programs to provide jobs & economic recovery
  • The launching of a new program, Energize Careers, to create a diverse and representational sustainability workforce through industry-advised training for people who experience barriers to high road employment

Our mission is building leaders to drive sustainability solutions, so that we may bring forth our vision of a resilient world where all communities thrive.

In the pages that follow, you’ll learn about SEI’s impact over the course of the last year. We’ll also share a brief story about an individual who exemplifies the spirit of sustainability leadership in each program and some ways you can get involved.

Thanks for joining us on this journey,

Cyane Dandridge & the SEI Team

SEI’s K-12 schools program, providing curriculum, teacher training, instructional support, and student leadership events for the last 24 years.

In 2020:

254 K-12 schools supported with sustainability curriculum, green career connections, and climate action projects

67% Low-income schools

66,237 Students reached through project-based learning, Earth Day campaigns, and Energy Conservation competitions

38 Green Career Webinars, where sustainability professionals shared their journey with students

Leader Spotlight

Juan is a teacher at Oceanside High School, where he teaches SEI’s Career Technical Education (CTE) courses - “Innovations in Green Technology” (IGT) and “Energy and Environmental Design” (EED). He’s able to seamlessly and confidently integrate this curriculum into his classroom after participating in SEI’s Energize Schools summer teacher trainings. Juan loves seeing his students light up when they design a solar car or work with tools for the first time to build an electric circuit. His favorite part of teaching is seeing his students grow and recognize their potential as environmental leaders in and out of the classroom.

When it comes to what SEI has put together, we can quickly move past that first day in terms of their resistance toward science because that first day, we’re building! Without the lesson development and curriculum SEI had developed and shared, it would have been challenging for me. All of the hands-on components and the connection to real world situations or real world issues has been a huge benefit to me. It makes my time as a teacher much more enjoyable.
Oceanside High School students
I want to major in Architecture and Environmental Design because of taking the IGT and EED classes. Buildings make up 40% of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, I want to combat climate change by targeting the built environment, and design buildings that are environmentally friendly, cost efficient, and aesthetically pleasing.—Andrea, Juan's student

SEI’s holistic 4-year high school model for developing environmental leaders, now in its 10th year.

In 2020:

122 students served

8 student businesses launched - including Old & New, a women-owned business upcycling textiles into zero-waste masks, grocery bags, and keychains

4700 hours of student community service

15 Leadership & Environmental Action Development (LEAD) Projects, such as the Equitable Park Access project co-sponsored by Marin County Parks

30 student internships

Leader Spotlight

Upon entering the School of Environmental Leadership, Amy felt alone, shy, and overwhelmed by the impending climate crisis. By her sophomore year, she began to blossom, and in 11th grade, she designed and pitched her own sustainable enterprise—environmentally—friendly scrunchies made from reclaimed clothes. Despite her early struggles, Amy was bestowed the Shining Star Award for the Most Personal Growth and now loves taking initiative to collaborate with her community and classmates, such as her leadership role in a district-level organization (SLAM!) activating youth in the fight against racism, or her internship at the Marin County Flood Control District where she plays a key role in community outreach and data collection in climate adaptation work around sea-level rise. In the future, she hopes to be an influential climate policymaker.

I had to go out of my comfort zone and do things that I usually wouldn’t do, and I think that’s an aspect of leadership that is not really emphasized. You have to be adaptable to different situations. I want to use my leadership skills to create policies that improve the environment, but also I really want to do social justice work. Hopefully, I can continue to marry the two together in college and my career.

SEI’s outdoor education program, placing and training emerging educators to teach science and ecoliteracy in elementary school garden classrooms.

In 2020:

36 schools received a dedicated ecoliteracy educator, utilizing their campus as a living lab

16,500 students experienced hands-on garden lessons

5,000+ lessons provided by educators

9,700 garden kits assembled and sent to students for hands-on learning while attending virtual classes from home during the pandemic

Leader Spotlight

Max, a long-time gardener, dreamt of being a teacher despite their own teachers’ attempts to dissuade them from pursuing such a difficult and often underappreciated career. Although the first six months of running a garden classroom as a Climate Corps Education Outside educator was challenging, Max “fell in love with the students, and the garden, and spending time with both.” In their second year, Max now hosts “garden lunch” for students seeking refuge from the rigor of their school day. One student who had a particularly difficult time in class and was often facing discipline now has garden time integrated into her therapy plan, allowing her to self-regulate, think clearly, and return to learning refreshed. Max embraced the transition to virtual teaching during the pandemic as an opportunity to teach things specific to life at home, like regrowing food scraps.

I never thought I’d teach science, but I love it. I love the way you can be interactive. I have so many tools - demonstration, inquiry, and integration of social justice into my lessons…I truly believe garden time is good for everyone.

SEI’s higher education program, supporting academic projects, faculty professional development, campus sustainability, and hundreds of paid student internships since 2004.

In 2020:

50 interns gained real world experience in sustainability

29 campuses utilized as living labs or receiving faculty training

9 academic collaborations with faculty to develop applied energy and sustainability curriculum

80% of interns reported feeling prepared for an entry-level job within an energy-related career pathway upon completion of the program

Leader Spotlight

In 2020, Elif designed sustainable campgrounds as an Energize Colleges intern at Sonoma State University. She was responsible for developing a “zero impact” campground at a preserve on campus, including the design of sustainable structures, materials, and layout. She was inspired by this project to seek a job in conservation, and has since been hired as a Utility Forester at Davey Resource Group where she ensures power lines are situated safely amidst urban areas and wildlands. She has a vision of a better future for power lines and vegetation management, and is making it a reality by focusing on tree and ecosystem health when making management decisions - bringing her environmental consciousness to her forestry management career.

It feels a lot better to be working a job that you can go home and feel good about at the end of the day. That’s what I’ve learned. When I’m working on solutions, I can tell people, ‘My job aligns with my values.’ And that’s so important.

SEI’s early workforce program to advance sustainability solutions with organizations as we catalyze climate careers for emerging professionals, celebrating its 11th year and over 600 Fellows since its inception.

In 2020:

100+ Emerging professionals in career-launching fellowships

80+ Partners hosted full-time Fellows driving sustainability projects forward within their organization

110 Training hours provided on early-career competencies for sustainability professionals, including equity, resilience, and innovation

Leader Spotlight

Jenna was a Climate Corps Fellow at MCE, a community choice aggregation energy program in 2016. As a Fellow, Jenna worked on MCE’s energy efficiency programs focused on multifamily properties. Upon completion of her fellowship, Jenna was hired as a full-time employee. When MCE was in a growth period but not quite ready to hire more full-time staff, Jenna had a solution. She hired four Climate Corps Fellows. As the Marketing and Communications Manager at MCE, Jenna handles press engagements, is a thought leader at the agency, and continues to drive sustainability projects forward with the support of Climate Corps Fellows.

The folks that come through SEI’s Climate Corps are very motivated. They are discovering where they want to fit in the industry, and they really just dive in feet first to do the best job they can do and to learn as much as they can. For anyone who is thinking about hiring [a Fellow], I would say: hire.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at SEI

In 2020, SEI finalized a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policy with a focus on building racial equity across the organization and our programs. SEI’s Advancing Racial Equity Working Group guides this work forward, including conducting an organizational assessment and developing a framework for decision-making. We strive to address inequities and actively work to reduce systemic barriers to our vision—a world where all communities thrive—by:

Empowering our teams to disrupt racial injustice

After a summer of heightened awareness around anti-Black police violence, SEI invested time and resources into developing our capacity to disrupt systemic racism. In October of 2020, we planned an intensive, expert-led training focused on racial equity for our School of Environmental Leadership teachers, SEI’s education team, the Advancing Racial Equity Working Group, and SEI leadership.

Prioritizing and partnering with communities hit hardest by COVID-19

We believe in building leaders from marginalized communities to drive sustainability solutions. Due to structural inequities, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities face disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 crisis. 67% of the schools we work with serve a high proportion of low-income students, who, due to systemic barriers, are predominantly Black and Latinx students. We continue to prioritize education and work-based learning work with low-income schools, recognizing economic capital as a key lever to personal and community-wide resilience.

Project Spotlight

In partnership with Swinerton Renewable Energy and Heart of America, SEI worked with Navajo Nation teachers at WhiteHorse High School in Montezuma Creek, Utah to address the education crisis occurring in their communities. At WhiteHorse, 80% of students do not have access to the Internet at home. To address teachers’ need for accessible, offline learning resources, SEI collaborated with teachers to design interdisciplinary STEM curriculum packets that empowered students to develop a deeper understanding of climate change impacts and solutions within their community.

Building bridges for disadvantaged and dislocated workers into high road sustainability careers

SEI launched Energize Careers in 2020, a new program that provides workforce education and training for systemically disadvantaged workers. Our goal is to create pathways to high-wage, high-growth, high-impact green careers to overcome barriers to employment and counteract systemic injustices through the combination of high-quality, industry-driven training, and personalized coaching and career services.

Empowering women

Since its inception in 1997, SEI has been a certified woman-owned business. We value gender diversity and representation at SEI and strive to build representational leadership of women in STEM and sustainability fields.

Taking Action

Our goal is to model, promote, and celebrate diversity and inclusion in our operations and programs. Join us in listening, learning, and taking action.

Get Involved

Join us in harnessing the power of leadership to create a resilient world where all communities thrive.

Make a contribution

SEI provides critical sustainability resources to K-12 schools, colleges, emerging professionals, and communities. Any contributions made will help us to deliver these resources broadly to those most in need.

Let's Partner

As we expand nationally, the ways we can work together to build sustainability leaders continue to grow. We’d love to partner with you - just get in touch!

Stay Connected

Follow along as we work together to create a world where all communities thrive.

Thank You

With gratitude, we’d like to recognize our board and partners for helping us build sustainability leaders in 2020.

Board Members

Abby Young, Bay Area Air Quality Management District • Bruce Riordan, Climate Readiness Institute • Cyane Dandridge, SEI • Dana Hokin, Gorda Estates Limited • Deborah Raphael, San Francisco Department of the Environment • Kahri Boykin, Merced Union High School District • Matthew St. Clair, University of California Office of the President • Susan Anderson, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability • Ward Bouwman, Oakgrounds Consulting

Advisory Board Members

Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Office of Education • Michael Bloom, US GSA, Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings • Rick Diamond, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Partners

Acterra • Alameda County General Services Agency • Alamo Elementary School • Alice Fong Yu Elementary School • Argonne Elementary School • Bay Area Air Quality Management District • Bay Area Community Resources • Bayshore Elementary School • Bellevue College • Berkeley Unified School District • Buri Buri Elementary School • Cabrillo College • California Air Resources Board • California Climate Investments • California Department of Transportation • California State Teachers Retirement System • California State University, Chico • California State University, Fresno • California State University, Sacramento • California Volunteers • CalRecycle • Capitol Corridor • Chinese Immersion Elementary School • City of Mountain View • City of Palo Alto • City of San Pablo • City of San Rafael • City of Sunnyvale • Claire Lilienthal Elementary School • Climate Action Pathways for Schools • Commodore Sloat Elementary School • County of San Mateo • Dianne Feinstein Elementary School • Dolores Huerta Elementary School • E.R. Taylor Elementary School • EAH Housing • Eames Institute • East Bay Community Energy • Foothill College • Francis Scott Key Elementary School • Garden Village Elementary School • Genentech • George Peabody Elementary School • George Washington Elementary School • Glen Park Elementary School • Heart of America • Jefferson Elementary School • Jinko Solar • John F. Kennedy Elementary School • Joseph and Vera Long Foundation • King County • Kitsap Bank • Lawton Elementary School • Los Angeles Community College District • Marin Hazardous and Solid Waste Joint Powers Authority • Marshall Elementary School • McCoppin Elementary School • MCE Clean Energy • Meadows Elementary School • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California • Miraloma Elementary School • Monroe Elementary School • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration • North Kitsap School District • Numi Foundation • Oakgrounds Inc. • Oakland Unified School District • Pacific Gas and Electric Company • Paul Revere Elementary School • Porterville Unified School District • Puget Sound Energy • Rising Sun Center for Opportunity • Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School • Roosevelt Elementary School • Roy Cloud Elementary School • San Diego Gas & Electric Company • San Diego State University • San Francisco Department of Children, Youth & Their Families • San José City College • San José Clean Energy • San José State University • San Mateo County Community College District • San Rafael City Schools • Santa Rosa Junior College • Sheridan Elementary School • Sherman Elementary School • Silicon Valley Clean Energy • Skyline College • Sonoma County Junior College District • Sonoma State University • Sonoma Technology, Inc. • Southern California Edison Company • Southern California Gas Company • Starr King Elementary School • Stevenson Elementary School • Sun Valley Elementary School • SunPower • Sutro Elementary School • Swinerton Renewable Energy • The School of Environmental Leadership • Thomas Edison Charter Academy • Trane Technologies • University of California Office of the President • University of California, Berkeley • University of California, San Francisco

Strategic Energy Innovations © ​2021. • sei@seiinc.org

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