History

In 2001, several environmental education (EE) leaders convened a meeting of 30 national EE organizations and programs to discuss what opportunities to advance EE might be presented by the new Administration. Informally labeling itself the Environmental Education Coalition, this group continued to meet semiannually for several years to discuss issues of common concern, in particular the disparity between public support for EE and a correspondingly abysmal share of federal funding for EE. Out of these meetings came, among other things, a growing awareness by all participants of the need for the field to become more politically active and to engage its broad constituency in unified action.

To explore how this community building and political work might begin, one of the initial EE Coalition organizers, James L. Elder, asked four foundations (Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Turner Foundation, and Rockefeller Philanthropic Services) to convene a "Funders Summit on Environmental Literacy" in the fall of 2004. Over 20 foundation representatives participated in this day-long discussion of EE's political potential and how it might be realized. Consequently, a half dozen of those participants agreed to provide the initial support for a three year national campaign.

As a result of these two sets of meetings, over one hundred leaders in both environmental education and environmental philanthropy have enthusiastically and unanimously concluded that a Campaign for Environmental Literacy is both viable and vital to transforming our children's future. This campaign intends to build on pioneering groundwork laid by such organizations as the North American Association for Environmental Education, the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, and the National Council on Science and the Environment.