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Education by Nature

In the mid 2000’s, a cohort of four, forward-thinking SF Bay Area EE providers recognized that the traditional nonprofit model of providing single field trips and one-time classroom programs to as many teachers’ classrooms as possible simply did not achieve the kind of educational and stewardship results that could be achieved if EE providers worked collaboratively. The idea for a ground-breaking, innovative project was born, one that has been implemented, expanded and enhanced over the years.

The project is known locally in the SF Bay area as Science by Nature, and nationally as Education by Nature.

Science by Nature, San Francisco Bay Area

The Environmental Volunteers administers Science by Nature, supported by the EEFC and documented on film produced by Our Public School, and funded by the Frieda C. Fox Foundation. The “all hands on deck approach” to education is a passion of Our Public School’s founder, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, and its Executive Director, Judy Hall. In 2015-2016, nearly a decade later, twenty-four (24) environmental educational providers in Santa Clara and San Mateo continue to work collaboratively within a shared service delivery model.

Coordinated field trips and natural science education programs from different providers, so that each provider leverages the programs of other providers and maximizes impact;
Long-term, deeper relationships with schools so that students receive reinforcing educational experiences year after year;
Proven academic results in science testing and learning, documented in a 3-year external evaluation, supported by the EEFC.

How have EEFC funders supported California’s public schools through Education by Nature?

EEFC member foundations introduced and funded the model in the Mountain View Whisman School District, aiming to provide more equitable distribution of services to every school and each child in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade in the district. The result has been demonstrated proven impact on student achievement via a 3-year external evaluation funded by EEFC member foundations, S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation (current member), and the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation (former member).

EEFC members also created a Transportation Fund, administered through the Science by Nature collaborative, that has provided funding for field trips and experiential education opportunities to over 11,000 children, with significant cost savings benefiting schools and nonprofits alike.

Former EEFC member, The Frieda C. Fox Foundation, funded ongoing development of software and implementations around the country, including initial funding for a new cloud-based platform and a multi-permission system enabling the California Department of Education to provide teachers with a portal to hundreds of programs and thousands of events across the state.

This scaleable, replicable delivery model that benefits teachers, schools, students, EE providers and STEM pathways has operated in various configurations complete with public access directory, searchable database, communications system, administrator permissions and registration capability, since 2008.


Pacific American Foundation

Science By Connections