Irvine, Calif., June 13, 2022 — A $3 million gift from longtime University of California, Irvine supporter Stacey Nicholas will advance the School of Education’s ambitious projects for improving environmental and climate change literacy in California’s classrooms.
The funding will create a new $2 million endowment fund for the Stacey Nicholas Endowed Chair in Environmental Education to support the teaching, research and service activities of the chair holder. (A recruitment is planned.)
The other $1 million from the gift will provide seed funding to establish a network of University of California and California State University campuses dedicated to climate change education and action efforts by relaunching the Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Projects (ECCLPs).
The ECCLPs initiative will be the first in the nation to connect all public universities through a systemic and concerted approach to meet the large scale and urgency of the climate crisis. With UCI serving as a hub, the network’s efforts will focus on prekindergarten through 12th grade (PK-12) teaching and learning of environmental and climate change literacy and justice, and research in relevant fields that will inform education and action. It will also focus on outreach and engagement with regional community partners working on these issues to generate culturally relevant and responsive solutions with students as the drivers.
“We are grateful for the generous gift from Stacey Nicholas to support improved teacher professional development, research and community outreach to transform our educational efforts to curb climate change and mitigate its devastating community impacts,” said Frances Contreras, dean of the School of Education.
The ECCLPs are a collaborative effort of educators, faculty and researchers in the UC and CSU systems – as well as environmental advocates, policymakers and nonprofits, such as key community partner Ten Strands, focused on integrating environmental and climate literacy across California’s PK-12 public school system. School of Education and Sociology Professor Richard Arum will serve as faculty director of the comprehensive effort focused on exciting a new generation about science in relation to the beauty of nature.
UC and CSU campuses are engaged in and collaborating on significant efforts to combat climate change. Both systems have made commitments to be climate neutral by 2030 and are leading the way by developing solutions that will mitigate environmental disruptions and alter the trajectory of the climate crisis.
“Together, UC and CSU campuses are the greatest producers of California’s pre-K through 12 teachers, conferring more than 7,000 teacher credentials every year, as well as offering ongoing professional development to thousands of existing teachers,” said Contreras. “They have a crucial role to play in building capacity of California’s education system to teach about the environment and climate.”
A recognition of the gift will take place at an ECCLPs (re)launch event on Sept. 15, 2022, at The Cove at UCI. Learn more about the event at the ECCLPs website.
About Stacey Nicholas: Philanthropist Stacey Nicholas is an advocate for interdisciplinary research, arts outreach and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education. In addition to her involvement with the School of Education, she is a UCI Foundation Trustee and member of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering Leadership Council and Diversity Advisory Board.
Nicholas also funds the three-way partnership between the School of Education, Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano and Marco Forster Middle School, which serves first-generation students with intensive academic enrichment in preparation for higher education. She also created an endowment at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering to support diversity, equity and inclusion, naming the office the Stacey Nicholas Office of Access and Inclusion.
The UCI School of Education is focused on advancing educational sciences and contributing to improved educational opportunities and outcomes for individuals across the entire lifespan. A diverse, dynamic and collaborative institution, the School of Education’s research, community partnerships and programming are dedicated to producing innovative scholarship, addressing the needs of local schools, and inspiring future generations of educators. U.S. News & World Report has rated the School of Education 10th among graduate schools of education in the nation and No. 4 among public schools of education.
About UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The School of Education plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/school-of-education/
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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