• Climate Justice at PPS

  • Climate Justice in Portland Public Schools

    In March 2022, the Portland Public School Board, after years of direct student and community action and leadership on climate justice, unanimously approved the Climate Crisis Response, Climate Justice and Sustainable Practices Policy ("CCRP"). The policy sets far reaching and ambitious targets around energy use, waste reduction, curriculum development, green schoolyards, student health, and climate justice and resiliency. 

    The PPS CCRP explicitly begins with our commitment to climate justice: 

    "Climate change disproportionately impacts the vulnerable members of our community. Implementation of this policy will prioritize serving people with disabilities, communities of color, and other vulnerable populations...The District shall prioritize investments that achieve the greatest emissions reduction, while integrating climate action into our curriculum and developing a culture of environmental stewardship and climate justice throughout our organization." 

    In bringing climate and environmental justice into the forefront of PPS' vision, the CCRP also aligns our climate work with the goals described in the PPS Graduate Portrait, which calls on our students to become "global change agents (who) are responsible stewards of the environment and knowledgeable about climate justice issues."

    Student, teacher, and community engagement work is critical to establishing a culture of climate justice. The PPS Climate Justice team is actively working on creative, community centered designs that will build a culture of climate justice and environmental stewardship, as well as teacher and student support systems, throughout PPS. This work gets done by collaborating and empowering the PPS community to be agents of change with a voice and pathways to action. We aim to have robust centers of dialogue so that everyone at PPS can actively be engaged in this work, together.   

  • 2nd Annual PPS Spring Climate Summit

    PPS Spring Climate Summit, Seeds for Change, At the Redd on Salmon St, May 22nd 2024. Sponsored by PGE and Jacobsen Salt Co. Kat Davis, PPS Advisor for Climate Justice, speaking at the 2nd annual PPS Spring Climate Summit

    The PPS Spring Climate Summit is a day-long field trip for high school students that explores climate change and justice, local environmental issues and initiatives. The event’s goal was to connect student leaders from across the district around the power of climate action through the theme of the event: Seeds of Change. This year's summit was co-planned by the PPS Climate Justice Youth Advisory. 

    Summit Highlights

              •  Keynote from Oregon Representative Khanh Pham
              • Intro to the Green New Deal For Schools
              • Intro to the PPS Climate Crisis Response Policy
              • Address from the Portland Clean Energy Fund
              • Tabling with 20+ environmental advocacy and community organizations
              • A Project Management Workshop
              • Climate Resiliency Skill building with PPS Parent, podcaster and author, Elizabeth Doerr
              • Radical Imagination and Language of Possibility with Kat Davis
              • Student project posters
              • Climate Cafe
              • Attendees from most of the PPS high schools

    We're on Week 10 of a 20 week project! As this team continues to engage with the community, we'll post our progress HERE! Come back for updates, soon. 

    Click here for the full project description and email climatejustice@pps.net with any questions or to add your input to the process. 

    Project Overview

    During the 2023-2024 school year, the PPS Climate Justice and Energy & Sustainability departments, in collaboration with a design team made up of students, community members, educators, and staff are designing a plan that will outline pathways and supports for students to take action on climate justice in Portland Public Schools.

    To create this plan, the group is collaborating with PPS’ Innovation Studio, an in-house problem solving accelerator. The Innovation Studio’s Innovation Equity Design Process sits at the intersection of design thinking, racial equity and social justice. It provides practical tools for the design while also challenging designers to create thoughtful entry points for other community stakeholders to shape the final project outcome. This is a departure from the traditional field of design.

    What Problem are we Trying to Solve?

    Climate change feels hopeless, intangible and impossible for students. Students are calling for more connection to leadership opportunities, PPS decision-making, and connection to spaces of community, joy, and climate action. There are barriers and obstacles to students being engaged in meaningful ways with PPS climate work, especially students who are historically least supported.

    The question we are asking through this process is: How can PPS create and support a wide variety of meaningful pathways to climate action for our entire student body, especially students most affected by climate change?


    • 2024-2025 Join the PPS Climate Justice Youth Advisory (CJYA)!

      Interested in student leadership around climate action? 

      CJYA members are thought partners in defining the Climate Justice department’s goals for climate action, student leadership, and community engagement.
    • Keep an eye out for more information coming this summer about how to join the advisory next school year ('24-'25)!
    • If you have any questions, please email climatejustice@pps.net.

  • PPS Climate Justice Mission

    A core part of the climate work we do at PPS is centered around racial equity and social justice. Understanding climate justice -- the idea that climate change has differing social, economic, public health, and other adverse impacts on underprivileged populations -- helps guide our actions in a way that distributes environmental benefits equitably, focusing first on the populations that have been harmed most by climate change.  

    PPS Climate Justice mission:  
    Support the teaching and learning of climate change and climate justice in all classrooms in Portland Public Schools. Collaborate to develop transdisciplinary curriculum and professional learning that empowers educators and youth to become transformative racial equity leaders and global stewards and ambassadors. Collaborate with district and community partners to empower youth to lead the district and the world in becoming more sustainable.

    Whether you've been a climate activist your whole life, or you're new to the journey, there are many ways to get involved as a climate justice leader in our schools. Talk to your classmates, your teachers, and us! If you want help figuring out how to gather and put to use your resources, we would love to help you figure that out. Email us at climatejustice@pps.net.  



Degrees and Certifications:

Climate Justice Inside PPS Schools

The CCRP calls for PPS to, "with guidance from frontline students and communities...develop curricular learning opportunities, so PPS graduates know the causes and consequences of climate change, understand climate justice, and have opportunities to practice climate solutions."

Numerous pathways for students to learn about climate justice have already been created and more are on the way, including: 

  • Multiple PPS high schools have a climate justice elective course.
  • Many schools have a climate justice or environmental justice club.
  • PPS supports student activism through excused absences for community climate actions. 
  • About us

    Kat Davis, Climate Justice Advisor, kadavis@pps.net  

    Kat Davis is the Advisor for Climate Justice at Portland Public Schools where she oversees the district-wide implementation of the Climate Crisis Response, Climate Justice and Sustainable Practices Policy. Before coming to PPS, Kat was the Director of Sustainability at Boise State University for five years, and has experience in the public sector with a background in designing systems of solutions in nonprofits and local governance. Kat centers student voice in her work and is eager to engage with the Portland community in moving PPS forward in our commitment to climate justice together.  

    Hannah Skutt
    AmeriCorps Climate Justice Project Coordinator
    Rosie Goity
    AmeriCorps Climate Justice Project Coordinator
    Jesse Nienow-Macke
    AmeriCorps Climate Justice Project Coordinator


    The core function of the PPS Climate Justice Advisor's office is to...

    • Within the Office of Teaching and Learning, support the development of K-12 science and social studies curriculum that engages students in learning about climate change and climate justice
    • Collaborate with the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement to support the development of youth leadership and engagement opportunities
    • Collaborate with the Office of Sustainability to support the development of curriculum that empowers youth to analyze data and create solutions to sustainability and climate justice issues in their community






Degrees and Certifications:

Climate Justice Resources for Teachers

Portland Public Schools, in collaboration with CLEAR Environmental, created this growing and dynamic resource space for educators, administrators, and community to share and learn about climate justice teaching in our schools. These pages contain teaching resources, community resources for students and families, and much more.

Check out the page here to find the resources that fit your needs!