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 startup funding and operations support to establish a bipartisan advisory board and organize an annual summit on environmental education.
“We are grateful for the generous gift from Stacey Nicholas to support the creation a new 21st century curriculum 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 Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Projects are a collaborative effort of educators, faculty and researchers in the University of California and California State University systems, as well as environmental advocates, policymakers and nonprofits focused on integrating environmental and climate literacy across California’s pre-K through 12 public school system. The comprehensive effort is 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 through12 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.”
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.