NAAEE Policy Initiatives

DC Skyline via Shutterstock
DC Skyline via Shutterstock

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Policy Initiatives

Significant advances in environmental education can be achieved through new and revised policies at the state and federal level. NAAEE works with affiliates and other partners to monitor opportunities to shape EE policy, develop strategies for advancing key initiatives, and build capacity within the EE community for advocacy.

Join the Advocacy Group on eePRO for more details on all of NAAEE’s policy initiatives and contribute to the conversation. 

Specific Initiatives

State-level Policies

NAAEE works with its affiliates to shape and advocate for policies at the state level that will expand or improve EE. State policies include legislation related to environmental literacy plan development or implementation, dedicated funding for EE and outdoor education, healthy schools legislation, and other innovative vehicles. For more information on what’s happening in your state, find your affiliate!  

Early Childhood

NAAEE’s Natural Start Alliance is a coalition of educators, parents, organizations, and others who want to help young children connect with nature and care for the environment. The Natural Start Alliance advocates for improvements to state requirements for early childhood education centers, including increased minimum guidelines for outdoor playtime and space per child. Learn more about outdoor learning environments and early childhood education and the work of the Natural Start Alliance

The No Child Left Inside Act

Since 2008, NAAEE has played a leadership role in developing and implementing an advocacy strategy to advance the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI). The intent of the NCLI Act is to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly, No Child Left Behind) to provide grant funding to states for implementation of a statewide plan for environmental literacy. The NCLI Act has inspired the development of dozens of environmental literacy plans. In December 2015, thanks in large part to the strong foundation of support for the NCLI Act built by the EE community over many years, the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now, the Every Student Succeeds Act) was passed with key language in support of environmental education included read more below)! NAAEE is working with the offices of Congressional EE champions Senator Jack Reed (RI) and Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-3) to reconsider the NCLI Act in light of the new education bill. Stay tuned for more on NCLI in the months ahead!

EE in the Every Student Succeeds Act

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—the comprehensive federal legislation governing preK-12 education in the United States. The new bill includes, for the first time, language making environmental education and environmental literacy programs explicitly eligible for federal funds. 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 $1.6B “well-rounded education” grants program
  • Environmental literacy programs are eligible for funding as part of the $1B 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 will continue to analyze the full bill and develop communications to inform affiliates, EE providers, and state and local education agencies how the law may benefit their environmental literacy work. Read a fact sheet on ESSA, review the ESSA Timeline, and read a breakdown of the differences between ESSA and the No Child Left Behind Act. Find additional ESSA resources and updates




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