County Supports Free Climate Education Program for Middle School Students


SAN JOSE – Acterra, a Palo Alto-based non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people together to create local solutions for a healthy planet, has received support from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for their “You(th) Be the Change” education program offered free to middle school students in the North County.  

Championed by County Supervisor Joe Simitian, the County grant enables Acterra to expand its You(th) Be the Change education program that teaches students about the effects of climate change and potential solutions. The curriculum consists of six interactive lessons covering topics that include sea level rise, agricultural systems and food choice, and more. You(th) Be the Change has already been taught in-person in four Santa Clara County schools, and over 100 additional students have completed the program.

“I’m pleased our County can help bring these resources to a wider audience. When most of us were in middle school, we didn’t have to think about climate change the way young people do today. For those who want to do something about it, Acterra’s free program for middle school students creates an opportunity for better understanding and inspires kids to take action,” said Simitian.

Students learn not only the science of climate change, but also how they can engage in sustainable solutions themselves within their local and regional community. You(th) Be the Change helps youth think critically about their own environmental impacts. Upon graduation from the program, participants receive a guidebook with tips to stay engaged with climate change issues beyond the duration of the You(th) Be the Change program. Students are encouraged to advocate to their local representatives for climate action and get involved in, or create their own, local climate action groups.

Simitian said that, “With this latest effort I feel I’ve come full circle. During my time in the State Senate, I was consistently pushing for renewable energy; eventually we were successful. My legislation mandated that 20% of California’s energy be renewable by 2010, and 33% by 2020. We got there, but man, it was tough. Acterra deserves praise and support in educating the next generation on the urgency of these issues.”

County grant funding will allow Acterra to train educators on the curriculum, provide supplies, and scale-up to serve new schools. Due to the challenges of remote learning, many school administrators and educators struggled to introduce programs beyond the bare minimum over the past few years. You(th) Be the Change offers a ready-made curriculum teachers can use to augment standard climate-based education. 

"We are honored to have Supervisor Simitian’s support and the County’s help in building the climate awareness and readiness of Santa Clara County youth. With the Board’s support, more youth will learn about climate impacts and start engaging with solutions in their schools and communities through the You(th) Be the Change program,” said Lauren Weston, Executive Director of Acterra. “Youth are forever empowered when they experience firsthand the changes that they make."

To learn more about Acterra and the program, visit


Press Releases


Children & Families
Environment & Land Use

©2022 County of Santa Clara. All rights reserved.