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, Earth Day is the biggest environmental tent in the world, an annual event that appeals to almost all ideologies. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who I recently heard speak in Washington, believes that ideologies are the most formidable barriers to peace, prosperity, and sustainability. Earth Day Network, the largest environmental recruiting organization in the world, understands that probably more than most because we spend the lion’s share of our time bridging different perspectives, ideas, and prejudices. This time of year, in the weeks before Earth Day, it is not hard to believe that we are moving along the pathway towards peace and prosperity. It is easy to believe that if you sit in Earth Day Network’s offices, where we witness the astonishing number of commitments that students, teachers, faith-based groups, people from all walks of life, businesses, and governments agree to take in support of a better world. It is both rewarding and frustrating in that we have more than 1 billion people supporting Earth Day but still cannot find a way to unite people around climate change. Yet we see progress and our mission to grow the movement and to build the capacity of community groups is moving the world in a better direction. Your support allows us to do that. Despite the outpouring of positive sentiment this time of year, 2014 promises to be another challenging year for all of us in the fields of environmental protection, clean energy, and endangered species. We are gearing up for battles in Congress and playing an active role in some of the great work (and occasional battles) that are taking place in our states, cities, and communities. Globally, political unrest is making it more difficult to stay active in the Middle East, Russia, and China--places where we have developed strong partnerships with mayors and NGOs. EDN is also developing some big ideas into big campaigns. We are now planning our 45th and 50th anniversaries and ask you to work with us to create a vision of where we want the world to be in 2020. We are working to educate millions of people in India about the health risks they face if they turn to coal while working with technology companies and the government to provide energy to the 400 million people who have none. We are finding support for our idea that the energy saved from private dollar investment in K-12 schools should go back to K-12 schools in the form of new teachers and science equipment. We believe that universal environmental education in K-12 schools should be instituted no later than 2020, Earth Day’s 50th anniversary.
We are developing innovative pilot programs to save the Asian elephant. In addition to our new campaigns, I have written a short summary of some of our major efforts. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. Campaign for Communities Over a decade ago, EDN created Campaign for Communities (C4C), an effort to bring new constituents into the environmental and sustainability movement, particularly African American, Hispanic, and other minorities, including college and non-college youth. We were certainly in the vanguard, likely the first environmental organization to create such a diverse coalition around national environmental issues. Initially we focused on creating partnerships with minority and youth organizations around the environment and voter education, registration, and turnout projects. Since 2003, EDN and our partners in C4C, including the NAACP, Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, and other organizations, have educated, registered, and turned out more than 1 million new voters, broadening the environmental movement and creating well-documented and growing constituencies for environmental protection, who have become among the most reliable environmental voters in this country. We are now working in key states for the 2014 elections -- federal and state, and local. Recently, we provided a large part of the on-the-ground education and turnout efforts around the passage of Proposition 39 in California, focusing our work on Latino and non-college youth. We now work with dozens of minority and youth focused partners on a year round basis on a broad range of environment and green economy issues, from large Earth Day education and community development projects to public policy and legislative issues. Over time, our C4C partnerships and programs have expanded to include faith-based organizations, mayors, state and local elected officials, many other non-environmental organizations and a select group of corporations. Under the banner of Campaign for Communities, EDN and our partners, the NAACP Voter Fund, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), and the American Forum, are planning a three-year Climate Voters Project to educate and develop committed long-term climate voters in 10 to 20 communities. Our goal is to create a permanent and active climate voter constituency of 300,000 people in key areas; voters who expect local, state, and national elected officials to advance and vote for climate-solving legislation and policy, and who will themselves become leaders on these issues at the local, state, and national level. Please see this link for a recent article. C4C will focus on communities that have significant numbers of Latinos, African Americans, center to center-right women and college youth both in politically active areas, including communities that have key local, state or national elections coming up over the three years, as well as communities that are also experiencing or have experienced climate change related events or dirty energy related issues.
Green Cities As we gear up for 2015, our 45th anniversary, EDN has kicked off a two-year “Green Cities” Campaign to accelerate the transition to a sustainably built environment; reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy efficiency and raising awareness and knowledge about how cities and systems must adapt, evolve and innovate. With your help, our campaign is providing that knowledge and inspiration and a roadmap to:
Increase public awareness and build consumer demand for energy efficiency and renewables in our homes, businesses and communities through education. Generate concrete commitments for innovative and replicable initiatives from key stakeholders such as industry and government around renewables, energy efficiency, and climate solutions. Support 20 small US and global cities in their development of sustainability plans while increasing constituency awareness and support. Green Schools Campaign In 2002, EDN created the first comprehensive green schools campaign in the United States. Our goal is to create a new generation of healthy, empowered, civically minded, inspired students; and to engage the greater school community to take on local, state, federal and global challenges. EDN and the William J. Clinton Foundation, along with the U.S. Green Building Council committed to greening all U.S. schools within a generation. We are focused on diverse, low-income urban centers with the potential for large-scale student, teacher and community engagement. We have worked successfully to improve federal, state, and local funding for a variety of green school laws and regulations -- from bond initiatives to soda tax issues to national support for school gardens. Community-by-community, we have created demonstration projects to showcase energy efficiency, green building technology and the positive impacts of environmental education. With the passage of Proposition 39, California has launched a potential model for helping green America’s schools. The initiative, which passed in November 2012 with help from EDN in securing grassroots support from the Latino community, will generate roughly $2.5 billion over the next five years to be invested in energy efficiency upgrades in public K-12 schools and community colleges. However, state legislators in allocating the money failed to include funding for curricula and other educational programming or outreach to take advantage of this “teachable moment.” As a result, most capital investments—normally made during the summers when students, parents, and teachers are away, and occurring behind walls/ceilings—will pass unnoticed.
EDN is taking the lead in addressing these needs by developing a one-year pilot program to educate, inspire and empower California K-12 schools students, parents, and administrators to green their schools and to become advocates for energy efficiency and renewable energy. If successfully implemented, California’s Proposition 39 has the potential to serve as a national model for how similar programs can maximize green job creation, generate long-term savings though upgrades, create healthier environments inside of public and private buildings, and harness the power of an invested, engaged community. In addition to significant health and environmental benefits, energy wise schools can provide savings of up to $100,000 per year which can be used to support teacher salaries, computers and textbooks. Your support has been vital to our success in building the environmental movement at home and abroad, greening America’s schools and mobilizing critically-needed new voters to support innovative solutions to climate change and other pressing environmental problems. Thanks for helping us make a greater impact this Earth Day and through our year round programs. Please consider donating for our 2014 work at www.earthday.org/donate. We are available to answer any of your questions. Thanks again! All the best,
Kathleen Rogers President
Denis Hayes Board Chairman
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