Environmental Education & Job Training Program

 An empowering environmental literacy and job training program that prepares youth and adults who have been failed by the education system to access jobs and career pathways in environmental fields and improve environmental and social conditions in their communities.


 Centered around a federally registered DOL Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship, Roots of Success is offered in high schools, youth programs, job training programs, reentry programs, prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, and other workforce and education settings throughout the United States.


 Since 2009, over 26,000 youth and adults have gone through the program; over 12,000 took the course while incarcerated.

Help us increase our impact by donating today!

Patrick Brown Green For All, Oakland CA

Engages people who have been left out of environmental policy and planning conversations in an exciting and respectful way

Tony Simmons Southeastern Correctional Facility, Lancaster OH

Empowers incarcerated individuals and provides them with the knowledge and skills needed to reduce recidivism 

Jamie Brewster Asian Neighborhood Design, San Francisco CA

Gives people reentering the workforce the confidence they need to achieve their goals


Robert Tarido Co-op Technical High School, New York NY

Helps teachers prepare youth for internships, employment, and post secondary education  


10 Module Course

A 10 module, multimedia, activity-based curriculum facilitated by an instructor in a classroom setting or online. Read more


Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program and Pre-Apprenticeship Program. Read more

Instructor Training

Roots of Success instructors are trained, licensed, and certified to teach the course in a one-day online or in-person training.

Prepares people for employment and to improve conditions in their communities

The green economy is strong enough to lift people out of poverty, but only if the people who need jobs the most receive training and support for good green jobs.


  • Environmental literacy

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem solving

  • Decision-making

  • Collaboration

  • Advocacy/Civic engagement

  • Career development

  • Financial literacy

  • Social entrepreneurship

  • Leadership development

  • Information literacy

  • Public speaking

Ten Modules

Click module name for description

1. Fundamentals

The Fundamentals of Environmental Literacy (Introduction) Module helps students think about the interconnectedness between natural systems, biological systems and social systems. It focuses on: the economy, natural and built environments, extraction and use of natural resources, global warming, climate change, bioaccumulation, synergistic effects, how decision makers evaluate environmental issues, cost-benefit analysis, how environmental decisions affect communities differently, climate justice, and how people advocate to improve environmental conditions in their community. Students go through a series of activities that allow them to analyze 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. The job readiness exercise focuses on understanding career pathways and ladders.

2. WaterThe Water Module introduces students to 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, groundwater extraction, wastewater management, and water contamination. Activities allow students to analyze approaches to conserving water and reducing contamination, including: water saving technologies, greywater and rainwater catchment systems, native and edible landscaping, ecological wastewater treatment systems, and incentive programs offered by local governments or utilities. The job readiness exercise enables students to identify their professional strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan for improving professional weaknesses. In addition, students identify career pathways and entrepreneurial opportunities in the water sector.

3. WasteThe 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 way institutions and individuals 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. In addition, students identify career pathways and entrepreneurial opportunities in the waste recovery sector.

4. TransportationThe Transportation Module helps students understand land use planning, the development of transportation systems and infrastructure, diverse transportation modes and transit systems. The module focuses on renewable and nonrenewable resources, the role of fossil fuels in modern transportation systems and vehicles, problems stemming from urban sprawl, greenhouse gas emissions, and air contamination, policies that promote transit-oriented development, alternative fuels, and transportation justice. A job readiness exercise focuses on resume writing. In addition, students identify career pathways and entrepreneurial opportunities in the sustainable transportation sector.

5. EnergyThe Energy Module helps students understand diverse energy sources, 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. Students are introduced 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 approaches and technologies that help people reduce energy use, renewable energy sources and policies that promote clean energy and climate justice. The job readiness exercise helps students write a cover letter to an employer. In addition, students identify career pathways and entrepreneurial opportunities in the clean energy sector.

6. BuildingThe Building Module introduces students to basic land use planning, building, and green building concepts. The focus is on 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 principles and practices, improving building efficiency, and resource conservation in the construction, operation, and deconstruction of buildings. The job readiness exercise focuses on preparing for a job interview and mock interviews. In addition, students identify career pathways and entrepreneurial opportunities in the building sector. The module supports students studying for the BPI (Building Performance Institute) exam.

7. Health, Food, and AgricultureThe Health, Food & Agriculture Module focuses on human health, food systems, and agricultural production. Students learn about 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. A final activity has students envision their local food system and think about how new businesses and initiatives could improve health and food access in their communities. The job readiness exercise has identify career pathways and entrepreneurial opportunities in the sustainable food, agriculture, and public health sectors and think about career pathways they may like to pursue.

8. Community OrganizingThe Community Organizing & Leadership Module introduces students to civic engagement, advocacy, community organizing, and leadership approaches, strategies, and skill sets. The module helps students understand the roles and responsibilities of an effective advocate and organizer. Students identify the root causes of problems, build a community-based organization, craft a mission statement, identify organizational goals and values, strategize campaigns, and simulate door-to-door campaigns. The job exercise has students think about career pathways in advocacy and civic engagement.

10. Financial Literacyhe Financial Literacy & Social Entrepreneurship Module focuses on personal financial literacy and on basic business practices, skills sets, and green business principles. Students think about how they can address problems in their communities through entrepreneurial initiatives. In the first part of the module, students’ focus on their personal finances and learn how to analyze income and expenses, create a budget, set financial goals, deal with debt and predatory lenders, establish savings, and effectively manage their finances. In the second part of the module, students develop green business ideas and business plans, and focus on how to operate a small green business, effective communication skills, business models, basic accounting, target markets, hiring staff, financial reporting, and recruiting advisors.

9. ConclusionThe Application & Practice (Conclusion) Module provides students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in the course to real world situations. In the final exercise students envision and design a sustainable, healthy, and just community block.

Roots of Success is particularly well suited for young people who have not been well served by the schools. It is a tool that can help address career and college readiness for young people with low levels of literacy. The curriculum works because it is engaging, adaptable, easy to teach, works well for students with different learning styles, promotes collaboration, problem solving and student leadership.
Pedro Noguera

Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA

Roots of Success is helping us educate offenders about the importance of conserving resources in our facility. In the last year, we’ve reduced our trash bill from $95,000 to $5,000. It is also helping us to prepare offenders for reintegration and employment.

Chief of Industries

Ohio Penal Industries, Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction

Roots of Success is the missing ingredient in the green collar jobs landscape: an accessible curriculum that helps people break the cycle of poverty by providing needed job and academic skills while empowering them to improve environmental and public health conditions in their communities.

Van Jones

Founder, Green For All, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Rebuild the Dream

Earning college credit helps students move towards college. For students who do not see themselves in college, Roots offers a multitude of growing career pathways that do not require a college degree.
Andra Kimball

Science Department Chair, Mission High School, San Francisco, CA

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Roots of Success Receives CAI New and Innovative Grants

We are happy to announce that Roots of Success has been awarded two California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) New and Innovative grants! CAI is a grant opportunity offered by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to support the creation of new...

National Apprenticeship Week Webinar “Preparing Youth and Adults from Frontline Communities for Good Green Jobs – The Roots of Success Environmental Literacy Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship”

Please join us Monday, November 7 at 12pm PST for a webinar entitled "Preparing Youth and Adults from Frontline Communities for Good Green Jobs – The Roots of Success Environmental Literacy Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship". This webinar will share best practices...

Photo Gallery: Congratulations to the newest cohort of graduates at the St Patrick Center!

The St Patrick Center has graduated their second cohort of Roots of Success graduates! The Workforce Development Team Mission at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis, Missouri, focuses on reconnecting clients to their...

St Patrick Center begins its second Roots of Success cohort

This week the St Patrick Center in St Louis, Missouri kicked off its second cohort of Roots of Success students. The following was written by instructor Basia Skudrzyk: There are challenges with the way solutions have been put into practice in the environmental...

Partner Spotlight: St. Patrick Center

The Workforce Development Team Mission at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis, Missouri, focuses on reconnecting clients to their communities by providing opportunities for training, education and employment; establishing a foundation for human growth and dignity. St....

New instructors certified at New Mexico Department of Corrections

In February 2022 we had the great pleasure to train 5 new Roots of Success instructors, Ashley Bass, Programs Manager at Springer Correctional Facility was trained along with Savannah Holm, Sandra Pierson, Hope Bass, and Leticia Nicolet, who are currently incarcerated...

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After going through the donation portal, you will receive a letter confirming that your donation is tax-deductible.

Contact Us

Interested in scheduling a training, reviewing a sample the curriculum, or simply learning more about how Roots of Success could make an impact on your classroom, reach out to us via email below.