The Campaign for Environmental Literacy was formally established in February 2005 as a response to the environmental education (EE) community's most vital political need: concerted support from the federal government.
The timing for such an initiative is opportune. Washington, D.C.'s current atmosphere of partisan deadlock provides a strong incentive for both political parties to seek out less partisan and controversial issues in which progress can clearly be demonstrated. EE, with its history of outstanding levels of bipartisan support both in Congress and throughout American households, presents one such exceptional opportunity. Most importantly, the EE field itself is poised and ready to engage in building a broad-based movement among its extraordinarily diverse and influential proponents, practitioners, and supporters.
The Campaign operates under the umbrella of a fiscal agent, Public Interest Projects (PIP), and has been funded to date by the generous support of the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Mary Kay, Inc., the Tortuga Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Wendling Foundation, the Alaska Conservation Foundation, and The Ocean Foundation. Our staff is based in Washington, D.C., with James L. Elder serving as the Campaign's coordinator and liaison to both the funding and EE communities.
The Campaign aims to help organize and mobilize the collective tools and assets of the EE community in order to secure federal support and encouragement for vibrant, integrated EE programs across the nation. Simply put, our goal is to significantly increase the amount of federal funding dedicated to the EE community. We are certain that this emphasis will be instrumental in closing the growing environmental literacy gap.
By striving to reach this primary goal, the Campaign will significantly increase the quantity and quality of environmental education across the country. This will in turn help young people in two vital ways:
- EE prepares students for the 21st century, a period in which they will be required to solve our most daunting environmental and sustainability challenges.
- EE programs demonstrably improve student performance and test scores in many disciplines.
While the Campaign's long term goal is to increase federal support, our immediate goal by necessity has become the maintenance of existing EE-specified federal funding at levels consistent with the past fiscal year's (FY) support. In keeping with this commitment, we have targeted restoration of two major EE resources that were cut entirely from the President's proposed federal FY 2006 budget.
- Office of Environmental Education (OEE), a $9 million program housed at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Office of Education and Sustainable Development's Environmental Literacy Grants Program, a $2.5 million initiative housed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Since these funds-totaling over $14 million-are critical to closing the environmental literacy gap in the United States, we are fighting to restore funding for both of these programs
. Our very first initiative, then, has been to start building community support both for the Office of Environmental Education (OEE) (hyperlink to sign on letter page) and for NOAA's Office of Education and Sustainable Development - Environmental Literacy Grants Program.
Be sure to get the facts on both of these issues and take action!