Captain Planet Foundation Helps Youth Tackle Environmental Challenges

Want to protect the environment? One promising strategy is educating upcoming generations about environmental issues. Kids are not only more likely to be ecologically attuned consumers and voters when they grow up, but can be persistent advocates for conservation when they're still little. Just ask any parent who's been nagged by their children about recycling or saving energy and water. 

In the past, we've looked at a number of funders that work on environmental educational opportunities for youth, and here's another: Captain Planet Foundation (CPF). 

Co-created by CNN founder Ted Turner, Captain Planet and the Planeteers was a 1990-1993 cartoon series portraying five superheroes out to save the Earth. A sequel series ran until 1996. In a recent interview with Bloomberg.com, Turner said, “The world needs him now more than ever.”

Inspired by the vision of the series, Turner founded the Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) in 1991. It's still going strong today, now chaired by his daughter Laura Turner Seydel. The Atlanta-based foundation funds hands-on, local environmental improvement projects for youth.

Recently, for example, it awarded a grant of $2,500 to Lewis and Clark Community College, of Godfrey, Illinois to enhance its Stream Discovery Program. That may not sound like a lot of money, but funds like that can go far at a small school.

In addition to offering small and special grants, the foundation is backing the installation of hundreds of learning gardens at public schools in Georgia and California to teach students about natural systems and the origins of foods. The program has a comprehensive multidisciplinary lesson plan so students get exposed to math, history and heath while engaging in an outdoor activity.

CPF also supports afterschool “Planeteer Clubs,” not to provide students with rings that convey superpowers, but to engage them in conservation activities. The foundation says that it has funded 1,915 projects, and 1,183,055 kids while impacting more than 10 million.

Lewis and Clark Community College is a two-year, post-secondary school with three campuses, community education and training centers and a river research center. Founded in 1970, it began with 450 students and now teaches more than 20,000 credit and non-credit students each year.

Stream Discovery is a program of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center that offers students a chance to monitor the water quality in their communities by assessing the health of local streams through observing, measuring pH and temperature, and surveying populations of macro-invertebrates. The data are then uploaded to National Geographic’s online FieldScope online database for mapping and graphing. Cool stuff, right? 

“We very much appreciate the Captain Planet Foundation funding our Stream Discovery program this year,” said Lewis and Clark Stream Discovery Coordinator Matt Young. “These funds will allow us to purchase additional stream monitoring supplies and continue to expand this program to schools throughout the state.”

 “This is one of the few projects from across the country that we chose to fund,” said Leesa Carter, executive director of the Captain Planet Foundation. “It is our hope that our combined efforts will educate, empower, involve and invest today’s youth to cultivate a better tomorrow.”

The Captain Planet foundation is currently soliciting applications for its EcoTech grants program, which will award 16 $2,500 grants to schools or non-profits to engage children in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to tackle local environmental issues. Apply here. The grant deadline in April 30, 2015.