Austin benefits from the next generation of sustainability leadership


Austin Texas office of sustainabilityAustin benefits from the next generation of sustainability leadership

EcoRise Youth Innovations and the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability will host the third annual Student Innovation Showcase at Austin City Hall on Tuesday, May 30 from 5:30-7:30pm. Middle and high school students from local public, private, and charter schools will be on hand to demonstrate the sustainability projects they have created to address challenges on their campuses and the community as a whole.

“It’s phenomenal to see students coming together to change their community,” says EcoRise Deputy Director Jon Stott. “This is a great opportunity for students to present their campus projects back to an authentic audience.”

Many of the projects featured at the Showcase were identified through student-led campus Eco-Audits of energy, water, transportation, food, waste, public spaces, and air quality measures using scoring criteria and educational materials developed by EcoRise. This year’s projects, which were designed to address identified shortcomings, include creative composting and recycling programs, building outdoor classrooms, installing smart thermostats, bee keeping projects, and the development of a carpooling app.

Funding to implement this year’s 30 Eco-Audit projects was provided through the Bright Green Future Grants program of the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability. “It is exciting to see the enthusiasm, creativity, and deep commitment to going green in our community’s children,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens. “We have good reason to hope for our bright, green future.”

Teachers also recognize the benefit of sustainability education and hands-on learning.

“This showcase empowers students and allows them to feel like their work and voice matter,” says Kate Hoffner, teacher and Green Team leader at Hill Elementary School. “These students are our future leaders in sustainability and honoring their ambitious ideas provides them with a sense of purpose.”

Hoffner will be honored at this year’s event with the EcoRise Teacher of the Year Award.


About Bright Green Future Grants
Sponsored by the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, Austin Resource Recovery and the Watershed Protection, Public Works, and Transportation Departments, Bright Green Future Grants is a competitive program that provides funding for school-based sustainability projects. Launched in 2012, the grants program was designed to recognize and support innovative projects that will inspire students to become lifelong environmental stewards. To date, 185 projects at local K-12 schools have been funded with Bright Green Future Grants. For more information, visit: www.austintexas.gov/brightgreenfuture.

About the Office of Sustainability
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability was established in September 2010, when Lucia Athens, a leader in sustainability and green building, was hired as the Chief Sustainability Officer. The Office works to ensure a thriving, equitable, and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin. The Office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a healthy and just local food system, resource efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, and a resilient and adaptive city. For more information, visit: www.austintexas.gov/sustainability.

About EcoRise Youth Innovations:
The mission of EcoRise is to inspire a new generation of leaders to design a sustainable future for all. EcoRise’s school-based program empowers youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching environmental literacy, social innovation and hands-on design skills. Through the organization’s Eco-Audit program, students conduct an environment audit of their school campus and create projects to address shortcomings. Improvement projects identified through the Eco-Audit process are eligible for Bright Green Future Grant funding through the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability. EcoRise served nearly 150 schools in Texas this year and over 500 schools domestically and internationally, impacting an estimated 50,000 students. For more information, visit: www.ecorise.org.

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