Community News

Winner Spotlight: Climate Change is Elementary


Dave Finnigan and his team gained recognition in the Youth Action on Climate Change contest with their entry, Climate Change is Elementary: Huge Green Fundraiser for Schools. As the Judge’s Choice Winner, the team presented their idea at the Crowds and Climate conference. The entry proposes a system where green industry vendors offer discounts to parents and rebates to PTAs through a Green Action Card; by bringing more access to sustainable products in students’ homes and pairing that with sustainability education at school, the idea is that a cultural shift toward sustainable living is created.

   2014 Judge’s Choice Winner 

Here’s more from Dave:


 I had hit a wall.  In 2007, I developed Climate Change is Elementary and by Spring 2014 I had presented this one-day program in elementary schools in 8 states, had visited over 40 schools and trained 25 people to present the program.  Our one day in the school is packed with active learning experiences first for the teachers who we meet before school for 30 minutes, and then for the children, who come to us in the gym one entire grade level at a time for back-to-back “edutainment” sessions, and for an all-school assembly at the end of the day.  We use music, movement, games and colorful slides to make our points.  The hallmark of the program is “Green Action Night” where a majority of the parents and children in the school come that same evening from 7 to 8 PM work as families on their Green Action Checklists of all the things they promise to do to reduce their energy and water use, and to help us all transition to a clean and green future.  PTAs pay for this program just as they pay for other excellent outside assemblies.   But the biggest problem was obvious after so many schools – How can we help families to take action on their Green Action Checklists?  It was that need that inspired us to design a program that ties the families who say they want particular energy and water saving products and services to the vendors who can provide them.  The GreenActionCard™ is designed to meet that need by providing rebates to the school for purchases of “green” products by families.  It is like “Boxtops4Education” without the need to cut and bring in boxtops.

The Team

The people who are the core of this program have been working on it since Summer 2013, when we began to focus on Montgomery and Laurel Counties in Maryland as our potential pilot area.  They saw the program succeed up to a point and felt the disappointment when we got commitment from families that did not necessarily lead to action.  Once the idea was expressed in the Climate CoLab competition format we began to get comments from interested colleagues who either sent me separate e-mails or entered their comments on the form in the proposal.  Responding to those comments made me flesh out the proposal more and more every day.  We ended up with 68 comments and dozens of revisions.  Since the contest closed that process has continued and unrestricted by format or word count we have gone much further along with our plans and have developed relationships with numerous colleagues all around the US and in other countries as well.

Best Thing

The best thing to come out of the Climate CoLab for us has been the extensive network of supporters we have engendered through the first round of voting when we got 135 backers and the final round when we approached 200.  These people are mostly professionals in this field, and they were thrilled when we won our contest and have been effusive in their praise.  Most valuable perhaps is the recognition from individuals and organizations which can potentially help us to get tech help or get funding to take this idea to completion over the next few years.

Overall Goal

“The GreenActionCard™ is a Loyalty Card for the Planet, so that as our families green their homes, we will green our schools.”

Check out the winning proposal here!

See other Spotlights of Climate CoLab winners, Fellows and Advisors here: