By Alie McDougall
Every day across the nation, high school students like myself wake up at the crack of dawn, then rush off to class where we find ourselves for the next 7 hours. Analyzing the texts of Shakespeare and Orwell, calculating complex equations, and reading off passages in a foreign language make up a mere fraction of the activities we do for the 9 months of classes we take each year. Yet, for many of us, there is one essential lesson that we have yet to receive from the current education system – climate & environmental education.
“According to the National Academy, only 15% of elementary school teachers teach about climate change in school. Students grow up unaware of the importance of sustainable living and the science behind/repercussions of their choices. Once elementary schoolers develop unsustainable habits, it becomes very difficult to break and relearn them when they grow older. That’s why we need to make systemic change and foster green mindsets from a young age.” – Surbhi, an Executive Director of the Tomorrow Project
The Tomorrow Project was built around a shared vision to instill sustainable habits in the next generation – the leaders of tomorrow – through unique classroom experiences rarely offered in traditional curricula. These experiences aim to teach young students the effects of climate change and utilize interactive workshops and peer-to-peer interaction to provide these students with the tools to combat such looming effects.
It all began in 2019 when the four founding members attended a highschool seminar about citizenship and social action. After identifying the climate crisis as a shared passion and topic of interest, the four worked nonstop for months to see their vision come to life. Turning Seattle’s popular Whole Foods Market into their designated office space, they pieced together what would soon become the Tomorrow Project.
As of May 2020, the organization has successfully launched on a national level and is now comprised of more than 75+ highschool volunteers and 7 new chapters spanning from coast-to-coast. Despite having to postpone all in-person workshops due to Covid-19, these volunteers remain hard at work, designing new online curricula, launching marketing campaigns, and holding virtual conferences with influential leaders from various educational and environmental groups.
“Climate Change is an issue that impacts everyone, and if we do not collectively take action now, the devastation will be irreversible. However, the problem often feels unapproachable because of its scale, and in turn, passionate people opt instead to do little to nothing. Our project emphasizes small, simple actions that are easy to implement in people’s everyday lives – which can be extremely powerful when done collectively.” – Max Feldman, Executive Director of the Tomorrow Project