By Staci Stevens, DIrector of Development and Special Projects, CAVU
The Climate Innovation Challenge (CIC), created by the nonprofit organization CAVU, educates students about climate change through a solutions-oriented lens. The Climate Innovation Challenge is a free international STEAM program for grades 3-12. The program consists of 6 lessons and a contest designed to cultivate student leaders to think innovatively and communicate effectively about adapting to our changing climate. Here’s CAVU’s video inviting you to join the challenge. Students and schools: sign up to create climate solutions! You can bring education, hope and resilience to students around the world! Teachers, schools and individual students are invited to register for free now through January 26, 2024.
CIC significantly expanded its reach this last year, in part because of our partnership with ESRAG. Several of the CIC videos that won awards in May came from schools recruited by ESRAG member Mercy Wambui, who serves as CAVU’s African Education Liaison and as Environment Chair for Rotary District 9212.
One achievement we are most proud of happened this past summer. CAVU, in partnership with Mercy Wambui, sponsored eight learners and five educators to attend the Africa Climate Summit 2023 at the First Lady Learners’ Pavilion in Nairobi,
Kenya. Students had an opportunity to lead an engaging session and showcase their youth-created solutions to local climate change issues. The First Lady assured learners of her commitment to involve them in climate change action through government initiatives. This is just one of many inspiring stories of how CIC is elevating youth voices and fostering leadership in students around the world.
We encourage students to “think globally and adapt locally,” when addressing climate change. CAVU does so by fostering youth-led, solutions-driven thinking and implementation in students’ communities. At the culmination of the Challenge, we showcase outstanding student videos and award scholarships and cash prizes for top entries.
In less than four years, CIC has grown from a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based program to serving students across the U.S and in Africa. In our first year, 2019/20, CAVU reached 135 students in New Mexico. During the 2022/23 school year CAVU reached more than 10,000 students around the world. With ESRAG’s help we engaged 25 new classrooms from Africa and India.
As we move into year five of the Climate Innovation Challenge, we are excited to be partnering with ESRAG to continue to expand the international reach of our education program. We are focusing on engaging youth most vulnerable to climate change impacts, including students from Indigenous communities, communities experiencing the worst impacts of climate change, and communities populated by people burdened by economic disparities.
CIC was born out of the understanding that the climate crisis is the defining challenge for today’s youth, impacting their environment, health, culture, and future job prospects. We believe youth are key stakeholders in helping to solve this global problem.