What is Ripple Effect?

Ripple Effect is a nonprofit environmental education organization that fosters water literacy through professional training and standards-aligned curricula, so teachers can incorporate real-world, climate-related water issues into everyday science instruction.

  • Our goal is to spark and sustain a national movement toward equity-based adaptation education.
  • Our next generation of “water literate leaders” will be the future hydrologists, engineers, climate scientists, ecologists, urban planners, designers, architects, educators, or public policy experts.
  • All Ripple Effect curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards and is designed to replace regular, everyday science instruction.
  • Rooted in the pressing issues impacting real communities and places, Ripple Effect is a conduit for communities to impact what is taught in schools.
  • Ripple Effect partners with teachers to develop and test all curriculum and teaching tools. We collect data, provide coaching, and assess student mastery before, during, and after each unit is complete.

We develop standards-aligned science curricula about real communities impacted by climate-related water challenges, then provide in-depth teacher training programs that prepare teachers to teach this curriculum with fidelity.

Read our Strategic Plan.

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What is water literacy?

Water literacy is the systematic collection and sharing of knowledge, skills, and ethical grounding that all individuals and communities need to successfully adapt to changing hydrologic conditions. It encompasses the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of human connections to water, water infrastructure, and aquatic ecosystems.

Water Literacy…

  • consists of the knowledge, skills, and ethical grounding necessary to successfully adapt to changing hydrologic conditions.
  • encompasses the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of human connections to water.
    draws from science, the humanities, social science, and community expertise to define and address water issues.
  • occurs in formal and informal contexts across the human developmental lifespan.
  • values both traditional ecological knowledge and Western modern science.
  • is rooted in a socioecological context in which human beings and nature are inextricably intertwined.
  • is inherently local, reflecting the ecologies, social histories, and economies of specific geographic regions.


Students living in our most climate-vulnerable coastal regions will receive regular, high-quality science instruction about water issues from prepared, passionate, and knowledgeable teachers in every grade, K-12.

This will result in a critical mass of students who are water literate by the time they graduate, widening the pipeline of minority and low-income students into fields such as science, policy, and engineering, where they can champion innovative and equitable climate change solutions. This will enhance community engagement with and support for these solutions, leading to improved health and sustainability outcomes for coastal communities.


We aim to dramatically impact water literacy outcomes for a critical mass of teachers and students in coastal communities:

  • Increased investment in water literacy; improved connection between scientific research and K-12; greater demand for in-school water literacy education as part of everyday science instruction.
  • Increased teacher content knowledge; improved instruction on real-world water and climate issues.
  • Increased student knowledge of social and scientific dimensions of complex, ethically tricky climate-related water challenges; greater awareness of real-world practices needed to tackle these challenges.