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Sustainability Ambassadors is a professional development program for student leaders, teacher leaders, and community leaders committed to rapidly advancing a sustainable future by aligning classroom rigor with community relevance for real world impact.

Three Goals

MISSION: Rapidly Advancing a Sustainable Future

  1. Empower YOUTH to catalyze community sustainability 

  2. Empower TEACHERS to integrate rigor with relevance for real-world impact 

  3. Empower COMMUNITY to drive collective impact

Who we serve

Principles of Educating for Sustainability (EfS)

Progra Descriptions

Systems Thinking:  EfS empowers students to make decisions that balance the need to preserve healthy ecosystems with the need to promote vibrant economies with the need to ensure equitable social systems for all generations to come.


Rigor Meets Relevance:  When students learn in context of local relevance, they are more motivated to achieve academic excellence.


Community Well-Being:  EfS increases connections between students and their communities promoting new patterns of lifelong learning, healthy lifestyles, and social cohesion. 


Collective Impact:  Stakeholders, including academic, government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, build collective impact for thriving, healthy, and regenerative communities. 


Adapted from National Action Plan 

Four Needs We address

Sustainability Ambassadors continuously curates real-world curriculum resources and convenes classroom/community expert roundtables to support problem-based learning in service to a more sustainable future.


Climate Change will significantly alter life in our bioregion with more droughts, more floods, more forest fires. Diminishing snowpack stresses water supply in late summer. Ocean acidification is causing a decline in our shellfish industry, the biggest in the world. Stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution entering Puget Sound. Toxins are bioaccumulating in the marine food web. Both salmon and the Orca that depend on them are threatened with extinction in our lifetime. The Duwamish Waterway, once the fertile estuary that supported a robust indigenous community, is a Superfund Site. Living with these systemically deteriorating conditions is a big deal. Improving them is essential. It is also a fascinating “living textbook” for learning about history, ecology, geography, economics, civics, policy, environmental justice and  cultural relevance. This is the stuff of problem-based learning. Well-informed students with a strong sense of stewardship for the land, water and air resources that support their daily life, can play a key role in educating peers, parents, planners and policymakers.



In March 2013, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and Just Health Action published a Cumulative Health Impacts Analysis for the Duwamish Valley, which found that local residents bear a disproportionate burden of environmental risks with pronounced health inequities relative to other areas of Seattle. According to King County’s Equity and Social Justice 2013 Report, nearly half (47%) of residents under the age of 18 in the county, are people of color and statistics show that “where you live, how much you make, and the color of your skin are major predictors of your life experience and your chances of living well and thriving.” A majority of this vulnerable population lives in the Green/Duwamish Watershed, the south King County school districts we serve. According to the 2010 census, neighborhoods along the lower Duwamish River and upriver through South Seattle, Tukwila, Renton, Kent, and Auburn are among the most linguistically, racially, and culturally diverse zip codes in the state.

Sustainability Ambassadors connects equity, economy and ecology in a triple bottom line approach to sustainable systems problem solving. We coach student leaders, teacher leaders and community leaders using this intersectional framework. Through our Equity Advocacy Intern Program we are investing in young students of color to learn about and help lead this movement. 

Sustainability Ambassadors is joining with frontline organizations in shaping, scaling and institutionalizing green jobs youth pathways including our own staff development. We are building learning partnerships with thought leaders, policy makers, program managers, teacher and student leaders, to identify systemic challenges and build systemic solutions.


Within the next five years nearly 30,000 jobs in Washington State will go unfilled due to a lack of qualified STEM candidates and fewer than 5% of STEM postsecondary degrees awarded in Washington are earned by students of color, robbing many young people of an opportunity to participate in fields where our economy is growing (Washington STEM). Economic growth, especially in Washington State, is increasingly driven by the principles of sustainability which means we not only need to prepare students for STEM proficiency but for sustainable systems thinking so that all students have a clear understanding of the relationship between economic vitality, equitable access, and ecosystem integrity. King County and other public agencies are facing a staff shortage, with an estimated retirement of more than 50% of the current workforce this decade. There is a real need to create a government workforce that looks like the community it serves. Local governments committed to these goals are experimenting with internship and summer youth employment models, but right now we have more of a sprinkler than a pipeline. Organizations in the environmental field like ours, need to restructure ourselves not only around these needs, but to hire, support and grow young professionals of color to help lead the restructuring.

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