2020 Fennie Community Fund
Legal-name: Coalition for Clean Air
Address: 660 S. Figueroa St, Suite 1140
City: Los Angeles
Officer-firstname: Dr. Joe
Officer-title: President and CEO
Mission: The Coalition for Clean Air is dedicated to protecting public health, improving air quality and preventing climate change.
ContactTitle: Development Director
Grant-purpose: With your support, we will build off our work with LBUSD Schools (Cabrillo HS, Jordan HS, Rodgers MS and Hughes MS) to provide an online STEM curriculum for teachers in the district eager to help their students understand air quality in meaningful ways.
What-is-project: The Coalition for Clean Air’s CLEAR-In-Schools (Community Learning Enhances Air Resources) program educates, uplifts, and engages youth in areas where residents suffer disproportionately from air pollution and provides much-needed resources for teachers to engage in interdisciplinary STEM program around air quality.
For the past 2 years teachers and students from Cabrillo and Jordan High Schools and Hughes and Rogers Middle Schools in Long Beach have participated in the program, which uses accessible, low-cost air monitoring technology linked to cell phones to teach students how to analyze local air quality. Based on data from these devices, students form hypotheses that they then run by scientists, who in turn provide feedback on their theories. The program culminates with students presenting their findings to policymakers (i.e. Long Beach City Council, CA Assembly, Port of Long Beach, AQMD Governing Board). In this way, the program provides real-world learning experiences while teaching students how to take steps to protect personal and community health.
Lessening our exposure to air pollution creates health benefits that last a lifetime. This is particularly important in air pollution “hot spots” like Northwest Long Beach. The program also fills a gap for teachers who want to instruct their students in air quality. CLEAR-In-Schools meets Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, resulting in an age-appropriate, interdisciplinary and at home approach to encourage project-based learning, a deep understanding of applied science, and enabling students to practice science as professional scientists do.
We recognize the educational world has changed under COVID-19 quarantine orders and are seeking the Long Beach Community Foundation’s support to help us develop and implement a virtual curriculum for Long Beach Schools. The program will build on our CLEAR-In-Schools curriculum, but will be focused on grades 5-6 and make use of our existing network of air monitors, which measures particulate matter (pm) at the neighborhood scale and is easily accessible online and on mobile. We will work closely with LBUSD teachers to develop the curriculum and implement the program (stipends included in the budget).
Through this curriculum, students will learn about the 6 main criteria pollutants identified by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, develop spatial awareness skills using online mapping to examine their own communities, turn observation into science and use data from existing air quality monitoring stations to test their hypotheses. CCA staff will work with LBUSD teachers to help organize an online forum for students to share their presentations with key stakeholders.
We recognize that COVID-19 has changed the nature of the way experiential learning programs like ours are run. But we welcome the opportunity to create a program centered around a much-requested 5th-6th grade curriculum and reach even more students through virtual lea
How-will-you-succeed: The number one outcome will be a fully integrated online curriculum based program for 5th and 6th grade classrooms that will use an online platform flexible enough to be used in the classroom, as well as at home, in the event of “Safer-at-Home” conditions or homeschooling.
Specific outcomes we seek to achieve include:
• A new curriculum for 5th and 6th grade classrooms completed
• Train at least two teachers in the new curriculum
• 100% of the teachers and student participants will understand how to read and interpret air quality data near them
• Run this new program in at least one classroom
• At least five policy-makers, along with other key stakeholders will attend the presentations
The new curriculum will:
• Establish a greater understanding of air pollution and its health effects among youth
• Provide information about what air quality monitoring means
• Use the most current information to explain the link between poor air quality and health, including how air pollution has been found to worsen Covid-19 outcomes
• Use the scientific method to enable students to use applied science to study the air quality in their own communities, and the impact this air quality has on their own health
• Incorporate the use of the purple air network for real time air quality monitoring information
• Convert acquired research data into information and action and work with stakeholders to share results, allowing students to transform their findings into positive change
• Aim to change student behavior based on what they learned about air pollution and take action to reduce their exposure to air pollution
• Outreach to and information sharing with the larger school community
Since we first ran CLEAR-In-Schools in 2016 in San Pedro, we are proud to say that we have been able to expand it to many different locations throughout Southern California thanks to a variety of types of funds that include corporate and foundation grants, Supplemental Environmental Program Awards, private donations and government grants. However, we don’t take anything for granted and are shifting from an in-person program that has a high cost-per-pupil model to a virtual program where we anticipate to reach an even larger number of teachers and students through a low cost-p er-pupil model.
Who-are-you: CLEAR is aptly led by Education Programs Manager (and Long Beach resident) Dr. Jenny Lentz. Prior to CCA Jenny worked at the Aquarium of the Pacific where she used GIS and community science to develop interactive ways to connect people of all ages to the ecology of the surrounding world, to create environmentally aware and engaged communities. She was also one of the lead authors of the 2015 report commissioned by Mayor Garcia advising him on how to make Long Beach the model of a climate resilient city.
Founded in 1971, the Coalition for Clean Air has historically achieved our mission through policy advocacy. From creating the idea for California’s original Smog Check program in 1981 to ensuring the first national ban on the toxic dry cleaning chemical “perc” to helping pass legislation to put 1 million electric vehicles on California’s roads by 2025, CCA has paved the way for socially and environmentally responsible air policy nationally and worldwide.
Beginning in 2015, however, we noticed more and more research reports emerge on the impact consumers have on air pollution, climate, and public health and the lack of corresponding awareness of air pollution. Both compelled to respond to and encouraged by changes in technologies that made air quality monitoring much more accessible, we started taking incremental steps to add education (collectively called CLEAR or “Community Learning Enhances Air Resources”) to our portfolio of strategies to help achieve our mission. In communities disproportionately burdened by air pollution, our new education programs have provided a way to show in a very real sense how air quality impacts individual health and gives them a new tool to do something about it. To date, CLEAR has educated more than 2,000 students and we’ve help deploy almost 200 monitors to help communities see air pollution in a new way.
Long Beach, of course, has special relevance to our work. Students in the district – particular at schools like Cabrillo High School – live and study immediately downwind of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the entry points for more than half of the goods shipped into the United States and the largest source of air pollution in California. Not surprisingly, studies such as “Global Goods Movement and the Local Burden of Childhood Asthma in Southern California (2009)” demonstrate that children living in the ports area have an elevated risk of respiratory illnesses. For example, asthma rates in the area are 25 percent higher than the national average.
Partners on the project include the Long Beach Unified School District, Boeing, and Sonoma Technologies. Boeing has been a funder for several years and looks to play an increasingly important role of having scientists and volunteers on staff interact with teachers and students. Sonoma Technologies was the originator of our original curriculum and a close co-collaborator on our educational work.