Alliance for Climate Education: A Million Students and the Power of Awesome

by Pic Walker

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our lifetime.

At the Alliance for Climate Education, we use the power of awesome—awesome storytelling, awesome visuals, awesome presenters, awesome carbon-cutting projects—to inspire youth to take action on climate change while building habits for a lifetime and creating the will to change. Doom and gloom scenarios don’t inspire everyone, especially the younger generation.  Accordingly, ACE strives to inject fun and excitement around everything we do, to make beating climate change, gulp, awesome.

This week, we’re celebrating reaching 1,000,000 high school students nationwide with our award-winning assembly on climate science and solutions. It’s an awesome accompishment for an organization that has been around less than 3 years.  Best of all, our assembly works—it contributes to a 58% improvement in climate science understanding, according to 2010 survey with Chicago Public Schools, and 97% of teachers rate the ACE experience better than other high school assembly programs.

Take a look at our short assembly trailer to see how the power of awesome has helped ACE become the national leader in climate science education.

Moreover, the power of awesome has helped us hit some impressive milestones:

  • 150,000 DOTs, or pledges from students to Do One Thing to reduce their personal carbon footprint.
  • 35,000 students working on carbon-cutting projects in their schools. Hundreds of rave reviews from teachers, parents, administrators and students.
  • 1,200 climate leaders trained to better implement projects at their schools. Let’s drill down on those awesome leaders.

ACE leaders Daniela Lapidous and Shreya Indukuri discuss their smart meter project with Secretary Chu and Secretary Vilsack.

Don’t believe that high school students can make a difference today? Tell that to Shreya Indukuri and Daniela Lapidous, two students from San Jose, California, who saw the ACE Assembly, started a green club, applied for a grant and installed smart meters at school. After turning off energy anomalies, like air conditioning on in the gym over the weekend they saved their school $23,000, and went on to form an organization to help other schools do the same. They’ve spoken about their project at the White House, the Clinton Global Initiative and Powershift, to name a few prominent venues, and are poised to launch careers dedicated to stopping climate change.

Now, that’s awesome.

By reaching millions of students nationwide, ACE is filling an essential place in an aging environmental movement of grooming thousands of awesome leaders like Daniela and Shreya today.

Through that Power of Awesome we are seeding the generational shift we need to turn the tide on climate change and build the will to act.

— Pic Walker is the executive director of the Alliance for Climate Education

5 Responses to Alliance for Climate Education: A Million Students and the Power of Awesome

  1. catman306 says:

    Here’s a thought experiment: When the lookout on the Titanic reported “Iceberg dead ahead!” was he engaging in doom and gloom reporting? Of course not!

    Neither are climate scientists, ocean biologists and ecologists.

    Look out! Something bad is coming! “Doom and gloom” need to be removed from our vocabulary. We are just looking out and reporting some unsettling events that are certain to happen, but on an uncertain time scale.

  2. Anna Haynes says:

    The most important thing ACE could do would be to clue the kids in to what really makes a difference. The change we need to see in the world is govt action to stop dirty energy subsidies, not personal-footprint, personal-concern-reduction actions.

    Send these kids to leadership class. (what was the URL for this youth-leadership effort?)

  3. Anna Haynes says:

    …or rather, it’s great that the kids are taking personal “footprint” action, but it’s important they also learn that talking to others is even more important. To quote Greg Craven –

    You do:
    everything you can to
    increase public demand for
    significant and immediate policy action to
    combat global climate change.

  4. Matt Stewart says:

    Anna – I’m the head of marketing with ACE – thanks for your comments.

    We do have a robust leadership training program, with more than 1400 students trained to become climate leaders – you can learn more at

    Truth is, most students are NOT going to become leaders right away. We help them advance from passive student to thoughtful personal actor to engaged Action Team member to leader. The one act may be the last step for many, but it’s the first step for a lot of leaders – and sure beats no step at all.