The Program

DOL Apprenticeship & Pre-Apprenticeship

In 2021 Roots of Success was certified by the US Department of Labor as a Registered Apprenticeship Program. We are now the first federally recognized “Environmental Literacy Instructor” Apprenticeship in the United States! The Apprenticeship program is available to all existing and new Roots of Success instructors who teach the full course.


We also offer a Pre-Apprenticeship program to all existing and new Roots of Success students who take all 10 modules of the Roots of Success course.

Key Features

  • 10 module course; each module takes 6 hours to teach
  • No prior teaching experience needed to teach the course
  • One day Train-the instructor training and certification
  • Students are automatically enrolled in the Pre-Apprenticeship
  • Student Workbooks contain all materials students need to take the course
  • Prepares students for over 100+ environmental jobs and career pathways
  • Graduates receive industry relevant certifications
  • Students can receive 3-6 units of college credit
  • Ongoing technical support
  • Sliding scale pricing that meets the needs of diverse programs


The Roots of Success Environmental Literacy and Job training Program strengthens academic and professional skills, increases environmental literacy, increases financial literacy and social entrepreneurship, prepares participants for 100+ jobs in environmental sectors and to improve environmental conditions in their communities and build resilience to climate change.
Programs use Roots of Success because our teaching approach and materials immediately engage and inspire individuals who have struggled in school and have barriers to employment and are directly relevant to people who come from low-income communities.

How it works

Get trained and certified to teach the course



Order student workbooks for your program


Register for the Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship, if applicable



Start teaching Roots of Success


Provide graduates with certificates



Click here to read a description of each of the ten modules


1. Fundamentals

The Fundamentals of Environmental Literacy (Introduction) Module helps students think about the interconnectedness between natural systems, biological systems and social systems and the connection between human activity and the environment. The focus is 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 effect 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, ground water extraction, wastewater management, and water contamination. Activities allow students to analyze different approaches to conserve water and reduce contamination, including: water saving technologies, grey water and rainwater catchment systems, native and edible landscaping, ecological wastewater treatment systems, programs and incentives 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.


T10. 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.


Download the ROS Presentation

Instructor Training

Roots of Success is taught by instructors who are trained and certified to teach the course in a one day online or in person Train-the-Instructor training. Instructors do not need prior teaching experience to teach the course, and leave the training with all the teaching materials and multimedia content needed to teach the course, receive ongoing technical assistance, and join a national Community-of-Practice composed of certified instructors. Our comprehensive Train-the-Instructor training introduces instructors to our unique pedagogy and teaching materials, and provides them with opportunities to practice teaching Roots of Success, guidance on engaging students and managing classroom dynamics, and help developing a plan to integrate the curriculum into their programs.

Flexible, Adaptable, and Easy for Programs to Implement

The Roots of Success program is adaptable and versatile. It can be taught over the course of several weeks or months. It can be used as a stand-alone curriculum or it can be integrated into an academic or training program. Each module can be completed in five hours total time. Teaching all 10 modules takes approximately 50 hours. To offer Roots of Success, programs have one or more staff or participants in their program trained to teach the curriculum. Before, during and after the training, our staff work directly with program directors and instructors to develop an implementation plan that fits their program’s needs. For examples of how Roots of Success is taught in different settings such as high schools & youth programs, job training & reentry programs, or prisons & jails, see above. There is also a version that can be taken online.  

Teaching Method (Our Pedagogy)

The strength and impact of Roots of Success comes from how we structure the course. Inspired by a popular education model, our teaching method immediately engages students by encouraging them to build on their existing knowledge and experiences, learn from one another, and connect what they are learning in the classroom to real-world issues and employment opportunities. 

The material is not simply presented to students as if they are open vessels ready to bank information, but as people who learn better when they engage with content that is relevant to their lives and participate in meaningful conversations. 

Students are consistently presented with opportunities to develop innovative and entrepreneurial responses to community problems and needs. Instructors facilitate discussions and engage students using interactive, dynamic student-centered teaching methods. Videos and visuals are used to increase understanding of key concepts and ideas and provide students with examples of how people from frontline communities are developing innovative responses to environmental and social injustices and to community problems and needs. 

Intensive student engagement, dynamic multimedia, and group activities stimulate students’ intellectual curiosity and ignite their interest in the subject matter because the discussions focus directly on the students’ experiences and are relevant to their everyday lives and concerns. Students are encouraged to learn from one another, apply what they are learning to real world problems and opportunities and utilize how what they are learning in the classroom to improve their lives and communities.

The program is engaging, adaptable, affordable, easy to teach, and works well for students with different learning styles (kinesthetic, visual, audial) and from diverse backgrounds. Participants are given the opportunity to examine society’s most pressing environmental problems, identify innovative solutions, and put their ideas into practice as they respond to community needs in innovative and entrepreneurial ways. Graduates are prepared for jobs and career pathways in the water, waste, transportation, energy, building, food, agriculture, open space, and community organizing sectors.

The curriculum works well for all students but was specifically designed for youth and adults who are struggling in school or have barriers to employment. 

The curriculum gets students excited about learning and keeps them coming back to class. Built around intensive student engagement, integrated multimedia, and group activities, the curriculum stimulates students’ intellectual curiosity and ignites interest in science, math, environmental issues, public health, and civic engagement. Roots of Success students come away prepared for career pathways in multiple sectors of the economy and with increased professional skills.

The pedagogical approach and curriculum design used in Roots of Success were created by Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at San Francisco State University. The structure and content for the curriculum were adapted directly from her textbook, “Alternative Urban Futures: Planning for Sustainable Development in Cities Throughout the World” (2004).

What Students Learn


Environmental Literacy

Focus on pressing environmental issues, problems and solutions, environmental justice, innovative and entrepreneurial responses to environmental challenges, and key terms and vocabulary needed to work in environmental fields.

Academic Skills

Emphasis on reading, writing, communication, scientific inquiry, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving, computer literacy skills, test taking, academic confidence.

Work Readiness and Career Pathways

Prepares students for 125+ environmental jobs and career pathways, focuses on professional skills, job searches, resume and cover letter writing,mock interviews, preparation for successful interviews with employers.

Leadership Development

Focuses on developing skills to identify problems, participate in discussions about environmental issues, and take action to achieve solutions.

Financial Literacy

Focuses on skills and knowledge individuals need to make informed and effective short and long-term financial decisions.

Social Entrepreneurship

Focuses on developing a plan for a small green business.

Inside the Classroom

The strength and impact of Roots of Success comes from how it delivers information – it is not simply given to students as if they are open vessels ready to bank information, but as people who learn better when they engage with the material, see and hear content that is relevant to their lives and sparks conversation and are encouraged to learn from one another.

Rebecca Lurie

Training Center Director, Consortium for Worker Education, NYC

Schedule a training

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.

Order Student Workbooks

Click to order Roots of Success Student Workbooks, Green Jobs & Career Pathways Guidebooks, or other materials.

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by clicking the button below.

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

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.