Our Approach - Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation

Our Approach

CELF’s integrated approach transforms learning into an authentic exploration of real-world problems, centered in and around the school community. Using sustainability as a guiding framework, we help schools embed place- and project-based learning into existing curriculum, across all subject areas. This could mean testing the water in a stream behind the school in biology class, using a flood-prone hill to measure slope-intercept in algebra or growing ingredients for a salsa garden in Spanish class.

Sustainable School Communities

Systems Thinking

  • All things are connected
  • Interdisciplinary approach to learning
  • Interdependence of social, economic and environmental Systems

Experiential Learning

  • Model best practices in place- and project-based education
  • Authentic experiences in the field
  • Internal motivation for student learning

Place-based Agency

  • Connecting to where you are
  • Strengthening your community
  • Empowerment through skill-building and civic engagement

What We Believe

  • Integration:  Education for Sustainability already exists in the curriculum and practice of all subject areas and effective teachers.
  • Partnership:  Enduring professional development results from a dynamic, interactive learning community.
  • Hope and Agency:  To solve tomorrow’s problems, our students must practice the future today.

How We Work

We meet you where you are.

  • Are you planting a new school garden and seeking ways to connect it to core curriculum?
  • Are you looking for ways to engage students in the environmental challenges they are experiencing in their own neighborhoods, whether it be air pollution, frequent flooding, biodiversity loss, or any number of place-specific quandaries?
  • Do you want to move beyond a successful recycling initiative to build a wider learning community of teachers, administrators, students and staff engaged with a sustainable school action plan? 

Every school has a different entry point. What is yours?

Access Points on the Path to a Sustainable School

CELF’s facilitators work side-by-side with educators as they design programs that integrate both the Big Ideas of Sustainability and Education for Sustainability – EfS – principles and practices into their existing curricula while creating EfS classroom and school-wide learning opportunities.

We offer customized professional learning opportunities, specific projects like our Citizen Science School and Community program, as well as our Annual Summer Institutes. For specifics, please check out the Our Programs section of our website. 

Here are just a few ways we can support your school:

  • Integrate EfS into existing curriculum
  • Design interdisciplinary sustainability-themed units
  • Use sustainability as a concept to develop project-based learning, place-based education, & experiential learning 
  • Build a learning community of EfS trained educators 
  • Implement school-wide sustainability initiatives
  • Activate civic engagement through student-driven projects
  • Identify & design curriculum connections to environmental issues & opportunities on the campus & in the community 
  • Support & strategize to achieve the National Green Ribbon Award 

“CELF has an approach that works.  It works with the quirks of systems and schools.  It works with the readiness of the teachers and kids and with the willingness of the administration and the community.”

Andrew Patrick
Assistant Superintendent, Scarsdale School District, Scarsdale, NY
Join us for our upcoming Summer Institutes in New York and Texas.Register Today.
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