Roots of Success is a contextualized academic and job readiness curriculum. It consists of 10 modules: (1) Fundamentals of Environmental Literacy, (2) Water, (3) Waste, (4) Transportation, (5) Energy, (6) Building, (7) Health, Food, and Agriculture, (8) Civic Engagement and Leadership, (9) Application and Practice, (10) Financial Literacy and Social Entrepreneurship. After offering the Fundamental module, programs can teach as many or as few additional modules as they choose.
There are four main components in each module. The environmental literacy component provides participants with the environmental knowledge, vocabulary, and skill sets they need to be competitive in the green labor market. The academic skills component strengthens vocabulary, reading, writing, math, critical thinking, decision-making, problem solving, communication, public speaking, computer, and test taking abilities and skills. The job readiness/career pathways component provides detailed information about employment and social enterprise opportunities in multiple sectors of the green economy, increases interview, resume-building, financial literacy, entrepreneurial skills, and prepares people for successful job interviews. The leadership component prepares and inspires people for civic engagement.
The strength and impact of Roots of Success comes from how it delivers information. While most environmentally focused curricula rely on traditional approaches such as lectures and assignments, Roots of Success uses innovative teaching approaches to engage individuals who have limited academic and work skills. Our pedagogical approach makes learning relevant, emphasizes student success, recognizes prior learning, and connects education to employment. To reach a wide spectrum of learners, we teach to the three main learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Our multi-media, activity based curriculum integrates classroom discussion and workbook exercises with videos, visuals, group activities, oral presentations, and independent work. Each module ends with reflection questions, multiple choice exams that make it easy for teachers to evaluate student progress, recommendations for how students can put what they learn into action, and detailed information about employment opportunities in multiple sectors of the economy.
The 10 modules are described below:
The Fundamentals of Environmental Literacy (Introduction) Module helps participants understand natural systems, biological systems, and social systems; the connection between human activity and the environment; and the science behind climate change. It introduces students to environmental issues, problems, and solutions from the multi-disciplinary perspectives of environmental science, math, technology, public health, social science, land use planning, policy analysis, environmental justice, and civics. It helps students understand the economy, natural and built environments, extraction and use of natural resources, global warming, climate change, bioaccumulation, synergistic effect, how decision makers evaluate environmental issues, cost-benefit analysis, how environmental decisions effect communities differently, and how people advocate to improve environmental conditions in their community. A job readiness focused on understanding career ladders and pathways.
The Water Module focuses on basic concepts and issues relevant to water extraction, management and use, the characteristics of water, how water is used in different settings, the importance of water for humans and other species, the water cycle, water use in agriculture, modern water management approaches, the inequitable distribution of fresh water, ground water extraction, wastewater management, and water contamination. The module focuses on approaches to conserve water and reduce contamination, including affordable water saving devices, grey water and rainwater catchment systems, native and edible landscaping, ecological wastewater treatment systems, programs and incentives offered by local governments or utilities. In this module, a job readiness exercise asks participants to identify their professional strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan for improving professional weaknesses. A job readiness exercises focused on identifying professional strengths and weaknesses. The module ends with a focus on jobs, career pathways, and business opportunities in the water sector.
The Waste Module introduces students to a range of issues related to waste management and resource recovery. Students learn about the waste stream, and how it has changed over time, bury and burn strategies, problems that stem from the ways we dispose of products and materials at the end of their identified lifecycles, alternative waste management approaches, resource recovery, appropriate technologies, and the 4 Rs. A job readiness exercise focuses on job searching skills and strategies, including identifying and responding to job listings. The module ends with a focus on jobs, career pathways, and business opportunities in the waste recovery sector.
The Transportation Module helps students understand land use planning, the development of transportation systems and infrastructure, various transportation modes, and modern transit systems. The module introduces students to the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources, and considers the dominant role of fossil fuels in modern transportation systems and vehicle use. The module also helps students understand the problems caused by the current transportation system, including urban sprawl, greenhouse gas emissions, and air contamination. It also focuses on policies and strategies to promote transit-oriented development, alternative fuels, and transportation justice. A job readiness exercise focuses on resume writing. The module ends with a focus on jobs, career pathways and business opportunities in the sustainable transportation sector.
The Energy Module helps students understand the principles of electricity, the role of energy in the world and in our lives, and the economic, political, environmental, and social factors that influence energy decisions. The module introduces students to the characteristics of energy and electricity, basic concepts and issues relevant to energy systems, the role of fossil fuels and nuclear energy in modern electricity systems, greenhouse gasses and their impacts, and problems associated with the burning of fossil fuels. The module focuses on policy approaches that promote clean energy and climate justice, practices and appropriate technologies that help people reduce energy use, and renewable energy sources. Students are empowered to make informed energy use decisions based on their understanding of the impacts of energy use, climate change, and environmental justice. A job readiness exercise focuses on writing a cover letter to an employer. The module ends with a focus on jobs, career pathways and business opportunities in the clean energy sector.
The Building Module introduces students to basic concepts and issues relevant to building, land use planning, and green building. The focus is on natural and built environments, building design and construction, building materials, building systems, embodied energy, indoor air quality, energy and water consumption in buildings, environmental and public health impacts of conventional building practices, green building, green building principles, improving building efficiency, resource conservation in the construction, operation, and deconstruction of buildings. A job readiness exercise focuses on preparing for a job interview and mock interviews. The module ends with a focus on jobs, career pathways and business opportunities in the green building sector. This module supports people in taking the BPI exam.
The Health, Food & Agriculture Module focuses on human health, food systems, and agricultural production. The focus is on health, nutrition, local and global food systems, agricultural practices, industrial agriculture, global food systems, factory farming, GMO crops, processed and fast food, food deserts, how to increase health and food justice, local food systems, urban agriculture, backyard and community gardening, and health education. Participants envision a local food system and think about how local businesses can improve health and food access in their communities. A job readiness exercise encourages students to think about a career pathway they would like to pursue. The module ends with a focus on jobs, career pathways and business opportunities in the sustainable food, agriculture, and public health sectors.
The Community Organizing & Leadership Module introduces students to civic engagement, advocacy, community organizing, and leadership approaches, strategies, and skills. The module helps people understand the skills, roles and responsibilities of an effective advocate and community organizer. Participants are challenged to imagine themselves as advocates and community organizers, identify root causes of community problems, build community-based organizations, craft mission statements, identify goals, establish values, strategize campaigns, engage in direct action, and reflect on their work. The module introduces students to jobs and career pathways in advocacy and civic engagement.
The Financial Literacy & Social Entrepreneurship Module develops personal financial literacy, introduces participants to business practices and skills, green business principles, and how they can respond to local environmental problems through entrepreneurial initiatives. Students gain an understanding of their personal finances, tools they need to analyze income and expenses, create a budget, set financial goals, deal with debt, establish savings, and effectively manage their finances. Empowered by their knowledge of responsible financial management, they learn to conceptualize green business ideas into organizational missions, develop business plans, the basics of operating a small green business, effective communication skills, business models, basic accounting, financial reports, target markets, hiring staff, and recruiting advisors.
The Application & Practice (Conclusion) Module provides students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom to real world situations. Students are challenged to envision a sustainable, healthy, and just local community.
There are 7 customized versions of Roots of Success:
- Roots of Success
- Roots of Success en Español
- Roots of Success for High Schools & Youth Programs
- Roots of Success for Prisons, Jails & Juvenile Justice Facilities
- Roots of Success for Social Entrepreneurs in the Green Economy
- Roots of Success for the UK
- Roots of Success for Veterans
To teach Roots of Success, instructors go through a one-day “Train-the-Instructor” training that supports them to teach the curriculum. The Instructor’s Manual is easy to use and makes teaching the course simple and straightforward.
Certified instructors have the opportunity to participate in the Roots of Success “Community of Practice,” which includes a national network of certified Roots instructors and online resources to facilitate peer-to-peer communication and sharing of best practices, materials and ideas.