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Our Mission

To inspire and empower kids and the broader school community to care for the environment.

The Grades of Green Approach

Students celebrate the banning plastic straws
Grades of Green students successfully pushed for a plastic straw ban alongside elected officials.

Grades of Green provides students with the support and resources they need to discover their passion and turn it into environmental action. We differentiate our approach by offering personalized mentorship and hands-­on environmental leadership training through project­‐based learning, including required civic engagement projects that actively work on environmental issues to create impact, today.

Working with schools across the globe, we are also able to pair students with other students from different countries, states and communities to learn, work and create solutions together. These future eco-­leaders not only expand their awareness of environmental issues and solutions but also learn to better understand different cultures and increase their ability to adapt to diverse situations through collaborative research and problem-solving.

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Grades of Green’s History

Grades of Green was started in 2009 by four Southern California moms – Lisa Coppedge, Shaya Kirkpatrick, Suzanne Kretschmer, and Kim Martin – who saw that their children and their peers were frustrated by the lack of resources to act on the pollution and waste issues that were increasingly affecting their community. They realized that the Earth’s environmental problems would be left to the next generation to solve and wanted to equip today’s youth with the skills and tools to deal with this environmental inheritance now. They began by developing student led programs for their elementary school that would create a more sustainable campus and instill environmentally friendly habits in the students. As the volunteer organization grew and other local schools showed interest in replicating its programs, the founders created a website to provide free resources and sought outside funding to share their school programs, and in 2010, the non-profit Grades of Green was founded.


From the beginning the mission at Grades of Green has been to inspire and empower youth to care for the environment and make environmental protection second nature in young minds. This has been accomplished through student led programs that meet students where they are at and empower them to take concrete action today that will result in environmental improvements in their community for years to come. Through project-based learning and leadership programs, Grades of Green students are reducing waste, protecting resources and advocating for change both at the school and community level. 


As a non-profit, Grades of Green introduced two successful programs, the Grades of Green Youth Corps Leadership Program and the Trash Free Lunch Challenge. The Youth Corps brought together a committed group of select students actively caring for the environment by creating and implementing a year-long Green Project in their school. Youth Corps students received regular guidance and leadership training from Grades of Green staff members, as well as from other fellow Youth Corps students. The Trash Free Lunch Challenge was a competition held by Grades of Green that provided participating Los Angeles area schools with education and a personalized waste reduction plan and then challenged them to see which campus could reduce its lunchtime waste the most over the course of the school year. As the programs grew in popularity and effectiveness, Grades of Green began looking for ways to scale their impact and include students from all over the world. In 2018, Grades of Green combined best practices from both of their successful programs to create the Rise Water, Waste and Climate Campaigns. The Rise Campaigns are virtual programs that provide student teams across the globe with the mentorship and leadership training needed to take concrete steps in their communities to address and solve the environmental issues that are most pressing to them and turn their goals into action.

To date Grades of Green has inspired over 600,000 students in 47 states and 27 countries to care for the environment.

Hear About our Students’ Successes!

Get involved!

Interested in getting involved in Grades of Green? We’d love to connect! Please send us an email at with a little bit of information about you and how you’d like to help!