Frequently Asked Questions

What is Roots of Success?

Roots of Success is an empowering environmental education and job training program that prepares youth and adults from underserved communities for employment in 125+ jobs and career pathways in the water, waste, transportation, energy, building, health, food & agriculture sectors, and to be leaders and social entrepreneurs who can improve conditions in their communities.

Who uses Roots of Success?

Roots of Success is used by job training programs, high schools, youth programs, Conservation Corps, YouthBuilds, prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, reentry programs, community colleges, universities, public libraries, government agencies, programs for chronically homeless populations, environmental justice organizations, community-based organizations, and more.


Do graduates receive a Certificate?

Yes. All graduates receive a Roots of Success Certificate which indicates which modules they have completed.

What level are the materials written for?

Roots of Success can be used with participants of any literacy level or background. It is designed for visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners; learners from all racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds; learners of all academic levels; and learners with a wide range of prior experiences and knowledge.

On the Test for Adult Basic Education (TABE) test, our average student has 4th grade math and 7th grade reading skills; but our unique pedagogical approach allows each learner to absorb the information and process it through their individual lens. Students who have weak academic skills can easily and successfully go through the curriculum and quickly increase their knowledge and strengthen a wide range of academic skill sets. Students who are stronger academically also benefit greatly from the curriculum, deepening their knowledge and strengthening existing academic skills. The value of this approach is that instructors are able to teach to a diverse community of learners, each of whom has an enjoyable and meaningful learning experience.

Do you have additional resources for students and graduates?

We produce a “Green Jobs and Career Pathways Guidebook” that profiles over 125 green jobs and career ladders in the water, waste, transportation, energy, building, and food fields. To place an order for the Guidebook, click HERE.

How do I become an instructor?

Instructors are trained and certified to teach Roots of Success. We offer both on-line and in-person trainings at an affordable, one-time cost. We can train as few as one instructor and as many as 15-18 instructors at a time. Click here to learn more about the “Train-the-Instructor” trainings and schedule and instructor training.


Who created the Roots of Success curriculum?
Roots of Success was created by Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes, Professor Urban Studies and Planning at SFSU and an internationally recognized expert on sustainable development, green jobs, and workforce training. The curriculum is produced and distributed by the Environmental Literacy Project.
What is environmental literacy?
Environmentally literate people have sufficient knowledge, skills and understanding of environmental topics and concerns to analyze and make informed decisions about environmental problems and solutions. Being environmentally literate empowers individuals to promote solutions that improve quality of life for individuals, families and communities. Increasing environmental literacy is essential to ensure that people who come from communities that are heavily impacted by environmental problems and injustices are able participate in an environmental movement that is diverse and attentive to the needs, perspectives, and voices of those most impacted by environmental problems and injustices.
How does Roots of Success develop environmental literacy?
Roots of Success prepares participants to understand environmental problems and solutions from the multi-disciplinary perspectives of environmental science, public health, technology, land use planning, policy analysis, economic development, and social and environmental justice. It uses multimedia materials and hands-on, interactive, activity-based teaching methods to keep participants continually engaged and excited about learning.
How does Roots of Success integrate environmental literacy with academic literacy and professional skills?

Roots of Success works well with people of all educational levels, but it is designed to ensure that participants with limited academic and labor market skills can benefit from the curriculum and learning experience. It uniquely integrates environmental literacy with academic literacy and job readiness skills for audiences with limited academic proficiency by using innovative, multi-disciplinary curriculum design and delivery systems that actively engage students in the learning process.

Why do we focus on the Green Economy?
The green economy is one of the fastest growing economic sectors, growing four times faster than all other industries combined. Green jobs provide workers with higher wages, better benefits, and opportunities for advancement. Most importantly, many green jobs are accessible to workers without a college degree; Roots of Success capitalizes on this opportunity.
Why is a module on “Community Organizing and Leadership” included in the curriculum?
The module on “Community Organizing & Leadership” is designed to empower individuals from disenfranchised communities to identify problems, participate in discussions about environmental issues, and take action to achieve solutions. This module focuses on the role of a community organizer, the tactics and strategies employed by community organizers, and provides examples of effective and inspirational community organizing efforts to promote equitable green development and green jobs.
Why does Roots of Success include a “Financial Literacy and Social Entrepreneurship” module?
Financial literacy is essential to individuals and families achieving and maintaining economic security. Building on a foundation of financial literacy, Roots of Success reinforces the idea of social entrepreneurship as a dual path towards income mobility and environmental justice.
Who endorses Roots of Success?

“Roots of Success is the missing ingredient in the green jobs movement: an accessible curriculum that helps people gain needed skills while empowering them to improve environmental and public health conditions in their communities.”

-Van Jones, Green For All and Rebuild the Dream 

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Programs that endorse Roots of Successs

“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, Professor of Education, New York University

See the list of Programs using Roots of Success.