“The solutions of tomorrow are not stashed behind the walls of bureaucracy or political halls. They are in the minds of engineers, designers, innovators, researchers, environmentalists, geographers and other spirited individuals. ”

Stuart Barea, 18


  • CELF Citizen Science Student Symposium 2019

    The 2019 CELF Student Symposium at CUNY Law School brought students from schools across New York City to present their Air Quality Citizen Science projects. The Student Symposium was an opportunity for students to present their air quality data and analysis and propose actionable plans to help prevent pollution. 

    In the morning, students, teachers, and parents gathered to hear opening remarks from an array of speakers, including the City Council Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, Costa Constantinides, whose own son suffers from asthma, and who has been working on city policies aimed at reducing air pollution. Sophia Rini from the Mayor's Office of Climate Policy and Laura Fuller from UN Environment also addressed the audience. 

    In this year's Student Symposium, students from the Chapin School, Central Park East II, and the Hewitt School presented their air quality data and goals for the future. Central Park East II students presented their air pollution findings and their neighborhood's susceptibility to asthma compared to other parts of the city. The CPE II students were able to identify smoking as a polluter in their community. While the Chapin students shared the data from their Idling Project from which they concluded that construction and idling cars were the most significant causes of air pollution in their neighborhood. Hewitt students shared their daily walk through the city to collect data, which showed higher levels of pollution on the street compared to the park. After collecting their data, Hewitt students planned to pressure their congressmen for environmental reform.

    Following the school presentations, participants were able to walk around and interact with the students and their projects. Each school made posters and other visuals to show their process for collecting data, their research on air pollution, and ideas for future action. One Chapin student even demonstrated the air filter she invented on her own initiative, inspired by a water filter she had seen used in another science expedition.

    To close, Maida P. Galvez and Luz Guel from Mount Sinai, Rebecca Bratspies from the CUNY School of Law Center for Urban Environmental Reform, and Sarah Johnson from the NYC Department of Health offered words of praise to the students for their work and passion for environmentalism. As CELF Executive Director Katie Ginsberg emphasized, the students' participation in this work shows that they not only "future leaders" but "leaders" in the present. 

    Congratulations, all!

  • A Sustainable Putnam Valley

    Over the past two years, the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation has been working with the Putnam Valley Central School District to develop sustainability as an integral part of teaching and learning across all grade levels. The project's goal was to create a lasting legacy of an environmental and civic-minded school community with a deep connection to, stewardship and understanding of the natural world.  PVCSD has made great strides connecting sustainability across the curriculum, campus and community in areas from renewable energy to comprehensive waste management. CELF was thrilled to join in the culminating event of the school year.

    On the morning of June 5th, students and teachers of Putnam Valley Elementary School arrived on campus for a day of interactive learning, all centered around one important topic: sustainability. “Sustain PV Day” aimed to engage the school’s first, second, third, and fourth grade students in critical thinking about the environment they live in. Student knowledge was challenged through a set of four rotating stations, each focused on an aspect of CELF’s Big Ideas of Sustainability: environmental integrity, social equity, and economic vitality.

    The first station, Change Over Time: PV Then And Now, was led by Sam Oliverio, Putnam Valley Town Supervisor and a graduate of Putnam Valley Elementary himself. Sam discussed the incredible change in tree populations since he was a student at the school, and the effect of these trees on electricity blackouts. Students were prompted to think critically about possible solutions to these blackouts, so that Putnam Valley can maintain the natural environment without having to sacrifice their own needs. Students then travelled to Diversity & Fairness/Equity: Helping to Sustain Others, where they heard from two volunteers from the Putnam Valley Food Pantry. There, they learned about the different factors to consider when confronting food insecurity, and how they can best contribute to the pantry’s mission.

    Afterwards, students marched all the way across the playground and soccer field for Systems & Interdependence: Exploring Our Local Pond Ecosystem. Equipped with miniature nets and magnifying glasses, students identified various species of creatures and confronted the complex ecosystem that exists so close to their school building. And finally, students arrived at Long Term Effects: What’s This Pole? Located out in the parking lot, this station investigated the school’s wind-solar pole, which powers a lamp post with entirely clean energy. David Spittal taught students about the implications of sustainable energy, and challenged them to learn more about where their own energy is sourced from at home.

    And while lunch time provided a break from these activities, there was no break from sustainable thinking. Students ate outside on the soccer field in an effort to remain connected with nature, and the school played music to encourage mindfulness. Additionally, everyone was invited to bring their own dishes from home, in the aim to have an entirely trash-free lunch. And when recess rolled around, students had the opportunity to help create reusable bags out of old t-shirts. Every moment of this day engaged students in creative learning experiences that they surely won’t forget any time soon.

    While this was a unique day for the Putnam Valley community, sustainability has been a staple of the school district’s culture for quite some time; the leadership and commitment of teacher Jen Bruno and librarian Liz Broas has made sustainable change a reality within the elementary school. This culminating event did a great job of immersing students in the mindset of sustainable action, and sets a great precedent for further sustainability efforts in the future at Putnam Valley.


    Our CELF Citizen Science: Connecting Classrooms to Community program is well underway for the spring semester. After two professional learning workshops held in January and March, teachers are now back in their classrooms helping their students collect neighborhood data with AirBeam technology.  They will be collecting particulate matter readings over the coming month, and will learn how to share and visualize their data to communicate their findings with their teachers and peers.  In June, we will all come together at the Student Symposium on June 8th to hear about their pollution prevention plans, and learn what comes next. 

    Already acting for a better world...

    We caught up with Anna Mello’s fifth grade science class at the Chapin School this week to see what their neighborhood data collection looked like, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that their work is already instigating action.  The classes split up into teams, with each student assigned a particular role.  Some were taking photos of biotic and abiotic factors that effect air pollution - both positively and negatively. 

    The beautiful spring day with its colorful blooms contrasted starkly with the noise and stench of the nearby highway. While some students tracked the particulate matter, others captured the data in their tablet and android devices. 

    Meanwhile other students focused on identifying idling vehicles - key contributors to air pollution - and this is where student knowledge, on the spot, effected change. In New York City, it is illegal to idle for more than 3 minutes. The city has set up a platform to report perpetrators, and the students were keen to make this law known to the drivers of the numerous idling vehicles they identified.  Respectfully, they tapped on the windows and informed the drivers of the three minute limit, as well as the negative impact their actions were having on children’s health. When faced with cheerful, earnest students, most drivers agreed to turn off their engines.  For those that did not, the students snapped photos of the vehicle license plates, timed the minutes that passed idling, and submitted the complaint via the City’s online form. Ms. Mello reports that their enthusiasm has continued beyond classroom hours. 

    We are looking forward to hearing from Chapin students about what they think we should be doing to improve air quality when we see them next at our June Symposium! 


    Now in its second year, the CELF Citizen Science: Connecting Classroom to Community program has exciting new support from the National Geographic Society.  Through a National Geographic Explorer grant and a Geo-Inquiry Process partnership, the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation -- CELF -- , has expanded the semester long program that engages students (grades 5-8) as environmental health researchers to collect, analyze and compare air quality data. Using this data, students identify sources of air pollution, connect them to human behavior and develop prevention and remediation plans for their communities.

    The National Geographic Explorer grant recognizes our program as one that introduces “innovative instructional strategies” that “help educators teach people about the world and how it works, empowering them to make it a better place.” Our program places particular emphasis on translating research into action through key partnerships with Mount Sinai, the New York City Department of Health, CUNY Law School’s Center for Urban Environmental Reform and the New York Hall of Science, right in line with Explorer goals. The National Geographic Explorer grant will allow us to expand the program to more schools beyond the New York City area.  Check out our program page or get in touch if you want to learn more: [email protected]

    Through National Geographic funding, we are also incorporating the Geo-Inquiry process of instruction into our professional learning sessions as it fits perfectly with our program goals.  The Geo-Inquiry process emphasizes interconnectedness and interdependence by framing an approach to learning within a five step process: Ask, Collect, Visualize, Create, Act. This is exactly what our citizen scientists do when analyzing air quality in their neighborhoods.  

    They ASK questions about causes and consequences of air pollution in their community.

    They COLLECT real-world data using AirBeam technology, document sources of air pollution in their communities through photos and surveys, and incorporate other methods of data collection including soil analysis. The data helps them answer the questions with which they began.

    They VISUALIZE their data by uploading their findings to the crowdsourced map as well as analyze and explain their data using charts, maps and graphs. 

    They CREATE presentations and pollution remediation and prevention plans to share with educators, peers and policymakers at the concluding Symposium. In the process, they think about the most important elements of their story, and what might be the best tools to tell their story.

    And they ACT by taking steps to implement their plans, they inspire others to act, or in at least one case, they incorporate action throughout the process.

    We are excited to partner with National Geographic to introduce this methodology to classroom teachers to facilitate real-world learning with their students. 

  • CELF Salon: Environmental Literacy for Our Children's Heads, Hearts & Hands

    "CELF is needed now more than ever." -- Dr. Maida Galvez

    On January 24, 2019, CELF celebrated 15 years of providing environmental literacy and sustainability programs for K-12 schools with a speaker salon held at The Astor House in New York City. The event highlighted CELF’s mission to ensure education for sustainability as an integral part of curricula and culture necessary to prepare current and future students to be active and responsible citizens of a sustainable world.

    Keynote speaker, Dr. Maida Galvez, pediatrician and Director for Region 2 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at Mount Sinai NYS Children’s Environmental Health Center, shared highlights of Mount Sinai's collaborative work with CELF promoting healthy environments for children. 

    Clarissa Lynn, an educator at Central Park East II School (CPEII) in East Harlem and CELF Citizen Science participant, shared how her students were able to connect how the sources of pollution levels their community  result in asthma and high absentee rates at their school. But the most resounding take away of the evening, came from Clarissa's students, who when asked why Education for Sustainability is so necessary in today's society, answered with "Because the adults don’t care, so the children copy them. But now we are aware, and WE need to be the leaders and show the adults why they need to care!”

    CELF thanks everyone who came out to support us and learn more about our organization and Education for Sustainability.  We would also like to thank Dr. Maida Galvez, Luz Guel and Clarissa Lynn for their enlightening presentations and the CELF Board and Committee Members who made the evening possible.  THANK YOU!


  • CELF Stories from the Field

    Creative, dedicated teachers are CELF's inspiration. When we work with schools to integrate environmental literacy across the curriculum, we see some amazing outcomes. We'd love to hear from YOU how CELF programs have been integrated into your classrooms and the change you’ve seen in your students as a result.

    "CELF Stories from the Field" is an invitation to share your CELF stories. We’d love to hear about how CELF has impacted your classroom and/or school. Have your students started clubs? Are they involved in school or community sustainability projects? How has your own practice changed as a result of place/project-based instruction? Share how Education for Sustainability has made an impact, a quote to include in an email newsletter or a longer story that we can share on our newsletter/blog. We want to hear it all and share with our growing community of EfS educators!

    Read the inaugural edition of CELF Stories from the Field,  "How Do We Tell the Children? Efficacy, Engagement and Resilience", authored by Maggie Favretti.   

  • CELF's Citizen Science in NY School Communities program is awarded a 2019 Community Grant by NYSP2I

    Click here to read the NYSP2I 2019 Community Grant press release.

  • Restart YourCELF: Back to School 2018

     Click here to read "Restart YourCELF: Back to School 2018", CELF's latest newsletter!

  • Creating a Legacy of Sustainability for Putnam Valley Schools

  • CELF Awareness Spring/Summer 2018 Program Update

    2018 CELF Program Update Spring 2018.pdf

  • Westchester Walk for World Water #2018Walk4H2O

    A collaboration between CELF's Student Ambassadors and Pace University, the Walk will raise awareness of the global water crisis and raise funds to provide LifeStraw® Community filters to schools in need. 

    Join us as we simulate the trek that many women and girls around the world make each day to collect water. With just a little bit of time and energy, you can provide more people around the world access to safe drinking water and make a difference! 

    Raised $3,175 which provided 9 Community Life Straws to be donated! 

    Read about the event here.

  • CELF Citizen Science Student Symposium with Mount Sinai PESHU and CUNY Law - April 28, 2018.

     NYC middle school students and teachers shared AirBeam data and pollution prevention plans developed as a result of their findings. Each participating school presented their Air Quality Citizen Science projects as connected to environmental health impacts and local NYC communities. See video message from grantor, NYSP2I.  

    Director, NYSP2I Chuck Ruffing Congratulates CELF, Project Partners, Teachers & Students

  • Teaching Sustainability Podcast with Katie Ginsberg & Alan Cass

  • Westchester-Based Nonprofit Earns Two Environmental Awards in One Week

  • NYS P2I Grant Winner Announcement

  • Ten Scholarships Available for Danbury Teachers to Attend CELF Summer Institute for Sustainability Education

  • 10 Scholarships for Danbury Teachers

  • July 2016: COEC Partners Collaborate for Teacher Training on Citizen Science & Social Justice

  • Danbury Teachers to Attend CELF Summer Institute

  • 2016 Summer Institute for Danbury, CT

  • 2016 Citizen Science & Social Justice in Your Community Press Release

  • 2016 Summer Institute Press Release

  • Expressing our Gratitude:

    Patti Bressman

    Patti Bressman Interview

  • Where are they now?

    Founding Member SAM Sara Hwong

    Sara Hwong Interview

  • Spotlight on SAMs:

    Interview with SAMs president, Karina Frank
    Karina Franke Interview

  • Educator Spotlight:

    Interview with PS 110 Principal Anna Cano Amato, participant at CELF’s Summer Institute in Greenpoint
    Cano Amato Interview



  • Warwick district gets $91K grant from EPA, Oct. 2015

  • Katie Ginsberg blog post: How Can Your Community Benefit From Schools Educating For Sustainability?

    CSR Wire,Sept. 2015

  • CELF Clinton Global Initiative Commitment Project:

    "Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation Announces Commitment to Action for Clinton Global Initiative", PRWed, October 12, 2012

  • CELF Professional Development:

     "NYC Public Schools to Integrate Sustainability Themes into Lesson Plans", PRWeb, June 29, 2012

  • CELF Student Ambassadors at Green Festival 2012:

    "Green Festival Inspires 25,000 in NYC", April 24, 2012

  • CELF Eco-Footprint Program:

    "Waste Not, Want Not, Pleasantville Sixth-Graders Learn"
    The Examiner, December 2011

  • NYLCV Honors CELF:

    "NYLCV Honors CELF for its Leadership and Committment To Sustainability Education in Westchester County" Green Living Guy, May 2011

  • CELF Boston Summer Institute in partnership with Boston Latin School:

    "2010 CELF Summer Institute: Education for Sustainability" YouTube, November 2010

  • CELF Eco-footprint at Manhattan Country School, November 2010:

    "Manhattan Country School students learn about their eco-footprint" MCS YouTube, November 2010

  • "Greening a K-12 School System"

    Steve Frantz, American Association of School Administrators, August 2010, Number 7, Vol. 67

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