Students for Sustainability

One Roof Foundation launches new ‘externship’ program to immerse students in pursuit of sustainable planet and health equity in communities facing environmental harms — by Bob Condor

Just as the Kraken took a big step forward with two rounds of Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey this spring, the Seattle franchise continues making moves to become a championship organization for the community and region and ­- why stop there? – the planet.

To that aspirational end, One Roof Foundation announced Monday the birth of a new initiative to educate and engage high school students about sustainability and environmental justice, both the issues facing the Earth and career paths and callings. The first annual High School Sustainability Externship program launched Monday and runs through July 28 in an immersive 10-day experience for selected students.

One Roof Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena, pursues its work in three distinct pillars to make a difference in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Sustainability (front and center at the arena) and environmental justice (an issue for which the Kraken is committed to elevate and promote solutions) represent one of those pillars.

To that end, One Roof defines “environmental justice” this way: “Every person should have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, clean and safe places to gather and play…but they don’t, and certain neighborhoods and communities face significantly greater environmental risk factors like air, noise, and water pollution.”

Three outstanding high school seniors from communities highly impacted by environmental harm will join the Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena, ORF and a multitude of collaborating organizations in the program. The students will explore sustainability, green jobs, the Climate Pledge, along with specific environmental justice issues that impact their communities. Knowledge is power in all instances and particularly relevant to defining and acting on environmental justice.

“This program immerses future leaders from impacted neighborhoods in a cross sector, cross industry curriculum covering climate change, sustainability issues, and innovative approaches to healing our planet,” said Mari Horita, senior vice president, community engagement and social Impact for the Seattle Kraken and the executive director of One Roof Foundation. “At the same time, these students will learn how to support and empower communities most burdened by environmental harms – in other words how to advance environmental justice.”

The first cohort of students will be encouraged to discover mentors in the fields of sustainability and environmental justice among participating leaders in those spaces. The collaborating organizations list includes involvement of subject-matter experts from Amazon, the Climate Pledge, City of Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment, Duwamish River Community Coalition (DRCC), King County Parks & Recreation, Port of Seattle, Seattle 2030 District, Sea Potential, Unico Properties and the University of Washington EarthLab. These teens will gain hands-on experience across the tech, pro sports, non-profit, public, academic, logistics and development/real estate sectors, plus build a list of diverse coalition of leaders and contact across those industries.

The list of experiences for the students is as enviable as it is impressive:

  • Sustainability tour of Climate Pledge Arena with B Treat
  • Bullitt Center tour with Unico Properties and Seattle 2030 District
  • Kayak tour with Duwamish River Community Coalition, an early environmental justice grantee
  • Seattle Storm game to see how Climate Pledge Arena puts sustainability into action
  • Habitat restoration at Skyway Park with King County Parks and Recreation
  • Visit to the University of Washington EarthLab to learn about environmental justice research and education
  • Learning about the maritime industry with Sea Potential

“Our hope is to give the students exposure to a variety of career pathways and jobs available to them, all with ties to sustainability and environmental justice,” said Naomi Woolfenden, diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist at the Seattle Kraken. “They will also get a unique chance to chat with potential mentors and contacts in several sectors and hear about the varied paths they’ve taken to get where they are.”