Resilient Schools

Where education, communities and ecosystems thrive.

resilient school

OAEC’s Resilient Schools Program supports public school districts serving vulnerable populations in designing long-term ecological, economic and bio-cultural resilience into their classroom curriculum, campus environment, and surrounding community. We focus on school-based Resilient Community Design because we believe in the power of public educational institutions – incubators of the next generation of community leaders and systems designers – to serve as hubs for ecological literacy, inter-generational engagement, and cross-sectoral collaboration of interdependent stakeholders co-designing their own thriving community.

What is a Resilient School?

Imagine your local public school as a model of sustainability: efficient renewable energy sources, hydrologically literate water management, school garden and local farm meals cooked from scratch in the cafeteria, zero-waste systems, and low carbon emission transportation. You can achieve these goals through community organizing — gather the stakeholders of your community to engage in democratic decision-making, collaborative funding, and participatory systems design that meets the academic, economic and climate needs of a community that is pursuing health and well-being now and for the generations to come. Learn more on our blog >



Resilient Schools Training

This training for teams of district employees, local government agency officials, business owners, community-based organizations and neighborhood leaders re-imagines educational institutions as resiliency hubs for the wider community.

Build your team to learn about the fundamentals of designing a sustainable school – from facilities to curriculum – and the community organizing skills necessary to facilitate the process.

2015 Course Dates

  • June 13 – 20

School Garden Teacher Training

Our flagship training empowers educators to weave ecological literacy into their living learnscapes. The training is for teams of teachers, garden coordinators, administrators and core parent volunteers from a specific school or district.

Whether you are imagining your school garden design or years into the process, you will gain hands-on experience and curricular inspiration for a vibrant living learnscape.

2015 Course Dates

  • June 29 – July 3

What is ecological literacy?


As we navigate a just transition through climate disruption, OAEC’s Resilient Schools Program supports whole communities to cultivate a reverential relationship with place – whether you find yourself in an urban context, suburban sprawl, a rural community or anywhere in between.

As we are all interconnected to place and natural systems, the intentional exploration of our relationships to our home leads to an increased capacity for supporting local people, places and systems. By cultivating ecoliteracy – the understanding of our relationship to place – across sectors, regions and generations, we foster community resilience: the capacity to thrive in response to changing conditions over time.

Program Mission

resilient schoolsOur mission is to empower school communities to better address their own needs – as well as the needs of their wider community – by facilitating a collaborative design process to connect the often fragmented layers of academic standards, administrative mandates, financial constraints, facilities design and the sociocultural experience of the people who comprise a school community.

We build the capacity of school communities to facilitate themselves through a process yielding empowered, engaged and ecologically literate members fiercely dedicated to ecological justice and community resilience through four core projects.

Four core projects of the Resilient Schools Program:

  1. Resilient Schools Demonstration Project: OAEC’s long-term relationship with local Sonoma County K-12 public school districts supporting vulnerable populations to develop and implement their own Resilience Action Plans.
  2. Resilient Schools Training: a week-long residential course for teams to be trained in the Resilient Schools model.
  3. Online Toolkit: an open-source online suite of resources to support schools worldwide to facilitate their way through the Resilient Schools model.
  4. School Garden Teacher Training: OAEC’s flagship residential course supporting school teams to weave ecological literacy into their living learnscapes.

Program Impact

For 20 years, OAEC has supported school districts to establish the foundation for school-based Resilient Community Design through ecological literacy in school gardens.

We have trained and supported over 250 schools and nearly 1000 educators – reaching 75,000 students annually – throughout the nation to establish ecological literacy programs featuring living learnscapes.


Learn about our trainings:


Read our seed-saving publication for educators:

resilient schools