New Environmental Education Non-Profit, Sustainable Learning, to Launch this Summer

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Summer program for high school students combines adventure travel to South America with sustainability education.

Sustainable Summer Logo Image
We want to make summers all about sustainability for high school students.

Sustainable Learning, a new non-profit organization specializing in experience-based environmental education programs for teenagers, announced today the launch of its first program set for the summer of 2013. Called “Sustainable Summer,” the program will provide teens from across the US with an immersion experience that combines outdoor adventure, leadership development, and environmental education in the South American country Ecuador.

Only 12% of Americans can pass a basic quiz on awareness of energy topics and “about 80% are heavily influenced by incorrect or outdated environmental myths,” according to the National Environmental Education Foundation. Yet only a small number of states have taken proactive steps to adopt curriculum and teacher standards related to sustainability education, despite the fact that climate change and other environmental issues are among the most critical public policy issues the US will face over the coming decades.

Sustainable Learning, which counts several executives from the summer program industry on its board, represents an ambitious response to the dearth of sustainability-focused options in the summer enrichment learning market.

“If you’re a high school student and you want to travel to the developing world to do community service for a couple of weeks in the summer, you’ve got hundreds of options at a range of price points,” says Sustainable Learning Co-Founder and President Jeff Sharpe. “But none of these organizations is teaching ecology -- or the social, political, and economic dimensions of sustainability -- in a structured way. Our goal is to prepare teenagers to be future environmental leaders in their communities and around the world through intensive, but fun environmental education summer programs in some truly exciting destinations.”

Sustainable Learning is initially offering 2-week to 5-week summer programs under the name Sustainable Summer starting in June 2013. The programs, which will take place this summer in Ecuador, are open to small groups of students between the ages of 15 and 18. Each program focuses on a specific sustainability theme. For example, a food and agriculture program combines classroom-based instruction on concepts like the global food system with practical instruction in organic farming techniques.

Applications to Sustainable Summer are currently being accepted online at Tuition for programs starts at $1995 and scholarships are available. An early enrollment tuition credit is available until Feb 15th.

The organization has plans to expand summer program offerings internationally and in cities including New York and Washington. A “gap-year” program called Sustainable Semester is also planned for fall 2014 for high school graduates that are taking time off before college.

“Most Americans don’t know from where their energy, water, or food comes; yet our global society is on a path to a future where all of these resources will be in short supply,” adds Sharpe. “We need the next generation to become more ‘eco-literate’ to solve these critical issues. We want to make summers all about sustainability for high school students.”

Sustainable Learning Inc. is a non-profit incorporated in the state of New York for the purpose of facilitating experience-based environmental education programs for teenagers.

Jeff Sharpe is a three-time education industry entrepreneur and the co-founder of Sustainable Learning.

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Anne Fenton
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