EE Advocacy Current Priorities

2022 EE Advocacy Priorities

Addressing complex and urgent environmental problems requires an informed and engaged citizenry. Federal environmental education (EE) programs through the EPA and NOAA have been crucial in funding local education initiatives that help students and the general public participate in community decisions about environmental issues.

For fiscal year 2023, we are seeking an overdue funding increase for these essential programs.

Additionally, we’re working to build bipartisan support for a new climate change education program. Education is a critical tool when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. We are also exploring opportunities to strengthen support for and improve access to environmental and outdoor education for preK-12 students.

FY 2023 Federal Appropriations
NOAA Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program

The NOAA B-WET program promotes locally relevant, experiential learning for K-12 students. The competitive, peer-reviewed funding promotes “meaningful watershed educational experiences” in six regions: California, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, Hawai'i, New England, and the Pacific Northwest. Since 2002, NOAA has invested over $50 million to support more than 600 B-WET projects. Funding has been stagnant over the past few years, while the need for this type of education has grown dramatically. 

  • NAAEE Position:  We endorse increased funding to the FY 2010 level of $12 million
  • Key decision-makers: Members of House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on commerce and related agencies
  • Our Ask: We urge Members of Congress to sign a letter to Appropriators in support of this funding
NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant (ELG) Program

This important program provides the public with science-based environmental education related to increasing community resilience and efficacy in solving local problems.  Funding for the ELG program has been level for a number of years, while demand for the funding has grown. 

  • NAAEE Position: We endorse increased funding back to the FY 2010 level of $8 million
  • Key decision-makers: Members of House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on commerce and related agencies
  • Our Ask: We urge Members of Congress to sign a letter to Appropriators in support of this funding

Download our fact sheet on NOAA B-WET and ELG funding to share with Congressional offices.

National Environmental Education Act/EPA Office of Environmental Education

This 30-year-old federal program directs essential grants to EE across the country. It funds innovative programming, facilitates key professional development, enables scholars and practitioners to conduct basic research, and provides vital basic services for the field. The program is central to the work of EE, including a local grant program key for communities all around the US. www.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grants(link is external)

  • NAAEE Position: This very successful program should be funded at $10 million for fiscal year 2023, a modest increase from FY 2016 appropriation of $9.6 million, which was then cut to $8.7 million for the past few years
  • Key decision-makers:  Members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittee on interior, environment, and related agencies
  • Our Ask: We urge Members of Congress to sign a letter to Appropriators in support of this funding

Download our fact sheet on funding the National Environmental Education Act to share with Congressional offices.

Climate Change Education Act

The Climate Change Education Act will create a Climate Change Education program at NOAA designed to strengthen community capacity to address local climate issues. The program will fund education about resilience strategies to counter the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, droughts, and other extreme weather events. The program would also support teacher training in STEM and other fields to incorporate climate change science into K-12 curricula. The Congressional bills (S. 966, H.R. 2310), were reintroduced in 2020 and are identical to one another.

  • NAAEE Position: Climate education should be an essential component of any comprehensive legislative effort to address climate change
  • Our Ask: We urge Members of Congress to cosponsor the Climate Change Education Act and to include related language in any climate change measures proposed this year

Download our Climate Change Education Act fact sheet to share with Congressional offices.

Other Federal Programs
No Child Left Inside Act of 2022: Coming Soon

Champions for EE in the Senate and House are expected to introduced an updated version of the No Child Left Inside Act in the spring of 2022. A previous iteration of the bill was instrumental in securing language making environmental education programs explicitly eligible for certain federal education grants (see "EE in the Every Student Succeeds Act, below). The new version of NCLI will build on that important first step by providing grants for implementation of state-wide environmental literacy plans and establishing a national pilot program for outdoor school models.

  • NAAEE Position: When introduced, we will urge legislators to become cosponsors of the legislation and support strengthening EE in federal preK-12 education policy. 
  • SIGN UP to receive timely updates and action alerts about the No Child Left Inside Act.
EE in the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is the comprehensive federal legislation that governs preK-12 education in the United States. Thanks to advocacy efforts on the part of NAAEE, Affiliates, and dozens of partners over many years, the bill includes language making environmental education and environmental literacy programs explicitly eligible for federal education funds for the very first time. The key language is found in two formula grant programs described in Title IV of the bill:

  • Environmental education is called out as eligible for funding under a “well-rounded education” grants program
  • Environmental literacy programs are eligible for funding as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
  • The prioritization of STEM activities including “hands-on learning” and “field-based or service learning” to enhance understanding of STEM subjects may provide additional opportunities for environmental science education programs.
     
  • NAAEE Position: We will look for opportunities to strengthen support for K-12 EE in the Every Student Succeeds Act and encourage school districts to use Title IV funding to support the integration of EE into formal and out of school time learning.