Part of the ECS Family


Environmental Charter Middle School Receives Funding from The Riordan Foundation

Environmental Charter Schools is proud to receive funding from The Riordan Foundation to support the integration of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into the interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum at Environmental Charter Middle Schools by building teacher capacity.

Through the Instructional Innovation Grant Initiative, Environmental Charter Middle School-Gardena will enhance its ongoing work to integrate STEM (with an emphasis on science) into classroom learning and build teachers’ capacity to teach NGSS. At Environmental Charter Middle School-Inglewood, the awarded initial Instructional Innovation grant will support the professional development of teachers, guide the integration of NGSS into curricular units and develop interim assessments to gauge student understanding.

Environmental Charter Schools focuses on college preparation and environmental and community engagement through interdisciplinary instruction, small learning communities and community partnerships. These best practices inform every element of the ECS experience. The Instructional Innovation Grant is a program that provides up to 50-75% of the funding for one year of a project related to improving instruction. Funding through this program is available for consultants, professional development, technology, or almost any other item relating to instructional innovation.

“We are proud to continue our relationship with The Riordan Foundation’s grantee network,” says Founder & Executive Director Alison Diaz. “This funding support will enable us to further prepare our teachers in NGSS which is ideally suited to our project-based, interdisciplinary instruction and assessment. This allows students to interact with content and skills in a deep and meaningful way, leading to greater motivation and effort, and thus, greater student achievement.”

About the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education and developed by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the new NGSS were created in a collaborative state-led process. The standards arrange content in a coherent manner across grades and provide all students access to challenging science experiences. Each NGSS standard has three components: disciplinary core ideas, scientific/engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts, all of which integrate math and writing and require special attention to language learning needs. The interdisciplinary integration of rigorous content and application reflects how science is practiced in the real world. These standards will reinvigorate science teaching and introduce our diverse student body to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) practices and principles.

You can learn more about The Riordan Foundation at We encourage you to follow @RiordanFDN on Twitter or like TRF’s page on Facebook

Environmental Charter Schools Statement on the Repeal of DACA

Dear ECS Students, Families and Community,

We at Environmental Charter Schools understand the concern and fear felt by our families and communities regarding the Trump administration’s recent decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Environmental Charter Schools is deeply disappointed in this action, which places hundreds of thousands of immigrant students benefiting from our public education system in jeopardy. Many DACA recipients are attending, have graduated from, or are employed in California charter schools like ours.

Environmental Charter Schools reaffirms our commitment to providing all school-aged students access to an excellent education and the opportunities that education provides without regard to their immigration status or the immigration status of their parents. We believe that public education is a fundamental right that all young people are entitled to in our state and in our country, and any discontinuation of the DACA program puts at risk that fundamental right.

We are providing information to our students, families and individuals who are seeking immediate support. The following resources may be helpful to families facing immigration issues and anyone seeking additional information. If you are unable to access these sites, please come to our school offices and ask for assistance with these websites.

How To Protect You and Your Family as DACA Ends

United We Dream has launched a new site focused on DACA at We Are Here To Stay Link:

What Do I Need to Know About the End of DACA (ILRC Community Advisor)

Undocumented Students and Families: The Facts, a guidance sheet to give you answers to key legal questions related to undocumented students (ACSA)

If DACA ends here is what recipients should know about their rights

National Immigration Law Center

The Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles

What to Know and Next Steps after September 5, 2017


1. Your DACA and work authorization will remain valid until their expiration date. If you currently have DACA, it will remain in effect until the expiration date listed on your work permit (employment authorization document) and your DACA approval notice. If your work permit is lost or stolen before it expires, you will be able to get a replacement. In California, your employer does not have the right to ask you to produce proof of work authorization before the expiration date on your work permit that you provided when you last submitted proof of work authorization.

2. No new DACA applications will be accepted. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will only accept first-time DACA applications if they were filed on or before September 5, 2017. All initial DACA applications that are submitted after September 5, 2017 will be rejected.

3. DACA approvals and work permits that expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 must be accepted for renewal by October 5, 2017. If you have a grant of DACA and a work permit that will expire between now and March 5, 2018, you must apply for a two-year renewal of your DACA by October 5, 2017. Unfortunately, people whose DACA expired before September 5, 2017, and did not submit a renewal application, will no longer be eligible for renewal. If you are eligible to renew under the above guidelines, you should do so immediately. Renewal applications must be accepted by USCIS, not just postmarked, by October 5, 2017 to ensure that your application is processed.

4. Advance Parole to travel abroad is no longer available for DACA recipients. As of September 5, 2017, DACA recipients will no longer be eligible to travel abroad through Advance Parole. Any pending applications for advance parole will not be processed and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will refund any associated fees.

5. Your Social Security Number is still valid. The Social Security Number (SSN) that you received through your DACA is valid for life, even once your work permit and grant of DACA expire. You can and should continue to use the SSN that you got under DACA as your SSN even after your work permit expires. You can use your SSN for education, banking, housing and other purposes. Your SSN contains a condition on it that requires a valid work permit to use if for employment purposes.

6. If possible, renew driver’s licenses and other identification cards while your DACA is valid. Eligibility and requirements for a driver’s license depend on the state in which you live. If you have not already done so, you can still apply for a driver’s license or state identification card if your DACA is valid and your DACA makes you eligible for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card in your state.

7. Know your rights and learn about your other immigration options. Talk to an immigration services provider to learn whether you might be eligible for another immigration benefit, and to know your rights in case you are ever stopped or questioned by ICE.
You can find a national directory to immigration nonprofits here:
You can find a Know Your Rights guide for immigrants here:

Environmental Charter Schools remains committed to protecting the educational rights of our students and honoring our community with mutual respect, dignity, trust and fairness, regardless of immigration status, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, disability or sexual orientation. We continue to offer equity and access to an excellent education to ALL students.

In solidarity,
Alison Diaz
Founder & Executive Director
Environmental Charter Schools

DACA is a program established by President Barack Obama in 2012 that grants a form of temporary protection from deportation known as “deferred action” to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16, have resided here since 2007 and meet other requirements. The Trump administration’s announcement leaves Congress with a six-month window to possibly save the policy.

Bright Beginnings for ECMS-Gardena’s Solar Panels!

Photo: These solar panels will create an energy offset of 91% at our Gardena campus

The new solar panels atop Environmental Charter Middle School – Gardena mark two firsts for both Environmental Charter Schools and ReGreen Corp. The Gardena campus is the ECS family’s second location for solar installation and it is the first charter school installation for ReGreen.

ReGreen, based in El Segundo, CA, specializes in lighting, solar and intelligent building controls. They have provided commercial lighting and solar design, installations, assessments and analysis for companies such as: Whole Foods, Double Tree Hotels and Santa Monica College, and for large scale commercial, multi-family residential, and low-income housing projects. ReGreen is the leading provider for local school districts’ lighting and control systems.

For ECS and ReGreen, this project is the beginning of a systematic, holistic approach to sustainability. This fall, solar system, lighting and controls projects are kicking off at ECMS-Inglewood and will be completed at ECMS-Gardena. ECHS Lawndale is currently exploring upgrading their lighting and controls. The aggregation of projects at all locations will make a significant impact in cost-savings, energy-efficiency and our carbon emissions – and make a powerful and demonstrative statement in line with our organizational commitment to environmental stewardship. The environmental thread that runs through ECS’s curriculum is enhanced and demonstrated in our commitment to healthy and green campuses.

Currently, the solar panels in Gardena are awaiting finishing touches and will be operational in a few weeks. Luke Creamer, Project Manager at ReGreen, explains, “the utility cost savings of these new solar panels will be approximately $10,204.00 a year and will create an energy offset of 91%. This system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 199 metric tons of CO2 each year which is equivalent to taking 11 gas vehicles off the road, powering 21 homes and planting more than 5,153 trees!

Photo: Our new solar panels collect the energy and good vibes as ECS staff celebrate the beginning of more energy efficiency upgrades at each of our school sites

On our path to energy efficiency and sustainable buildings, ECS is proud of our recent Inglewood campus expansion. The new classroom buildings are LEED Certified and the expansion features 10 new classrooms and 35,000 square feet of outdoor learning space. The expansion will enable ECMS-I to serve 360 students in the 2018-2019 school year.

“The solar and lighting projects are a great step toward self-reliance and stewardship. These projects will also provide ECS students and staff an additional avenue to understand our impact on the environment.”
– Alayna Santos, ECS Facilities and Sustainability Manager.

Check out photo updates of our ECMS-Inglewood classroom expansion and consider donating to our campus greening efforts. Plus, learn more about how ReGreen is partnering with businesses and organizations in Southern California communities to implement energy solutions.

ECS and ReGreen share a commitment to environmental stewardship and to contributing to the South Bay and South LA communities. Check out photo updates of our ECMS-Inglewod classroom expansion and consider donating to our campus greening efforts. Plus, learn more about how ReGreen is partnering with businesses and organizations in Southern California communities to implement energy solutions.

First Day Butterflies Turn into Lasting Bonds During ECS Summer Bridge

Photo: 6th graders at ECMS-I have fun while learning the importance of supporting each other during a Games & Movement class.

First Day Butterflies Be Gone

Take a second to recall how you felt on your first day of Middle or High School. Awkward, excited, a little nervous? The transition from elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school, can be downright daunting for a lot of students. At ECS, however, students have an opportunity during Summer Bridge to get those first-day butterflies out as meet their peers and get a sneak peek at what their time at ECS will look like weeks before they have to face their first day.

At ECS, our new 6th and 9th graders have just completed two weeks of Summer Bridge, an active and immersive experience during which “veteran students,” aka mentors, guide them through a variety of activities that introduce them to their classmates, teachers and new campus in an effort to help them start their new school year powerfully.

Photo: ECHS Mentors at Summer Bridge at ECMS-G getting their “tribes” together.

Community at the Center of It All

Through activities ranging from icebreakers to field trips, students are introduced our best practice of small learning communities in the form of tribes, which emphasizes team building, communication, and trust. Students meet the peers that will soon become their advisory, a group with whom they will meet with regularly for support for the remainder of their time at ECS.

Bridges Stretch Beyond Our School Walls

In addition to getting exposure to the open and accepting culture of ECS, students learn quickly that our campus extends far beyond our school walls as they embark upon field trips that expose them to culture, history and the environment. 9th graders participated in a scavenger hunt on LMU’s campus, in an effort to expose and excite them to the possibilities that exist after their life at ECS. They also attended the “No Justice, No Peace: 1992” exhibit at the California African American Museum where they examined an old police cruiser and recalled, through first-hand documentation, the LA Uprising and the socio-political climate of the city we call our home.

Photo: 6th graders at ECMS-G partnered with Heal the Bay to clean up Dockweiler Beach.

Students at ECMS-Inglewood toured the USC campus and visited the California Science Center. Exploring the possibilities of higher education, students learned about college life while also learning how everything in our world is connected through ecosystems. At ECMS-Gardena, in partnership with Heal the Bay, students visited Dockweiler Beach to better understand ocean pollution and its impact on the health of the beach through a waste clean-up and survey. The field trips during Summer Bridge are just a taste of the urban and outdoor adventures that await them at ECS.

Summer Bridge is vital to the ECS culture in supporting the transition for all incoming 6th and 9th graders. It takes the anxiety and pressures out of feeling alone at a new school.

A Big Thank You

ECS’ Summer Bridge offering is an extensive and collaborative effort that we are very proud to provide for our students. A big thank you to all staff, students and partners who take the additional three weeks of their summer to make Summer Bridge an extraordinary experience. “It makes it all worth it,” says Wintor McNeel, one of our counselors and an organizer of Summer Bridge, “when you overhear a student telling their mentor they wish they could spend another week in Summer Bridge.”

See All Photos

ECMS-Gardena Grads are Empowered and Ready for Action

The Class of 2017 from ECMS-Gardena is, in a word, empowered. These bright, young minds seated proudly in the Hawthorne Memorial Center among family, friends and their teachers and staff seemed more than ready for high school. The culmination ceremony focused on the middle schoolers’ accomplishments.


School counselor, Daniella Torrecilla, congratulated the almost-freshmen on all that they were able to achieve at ECMS-Gardena. But she was right in saying that “it’s only the beginning.” These students have accomplished much in middle school including maintaining impressive GPAs, speaking at various community events, and experiencing field and camping trips – a first for many. As high-achieving as these students are, they are modest and kind as student speakers thank their teachers for changing their lives in the best way. Salutatorian Mely Sosa gave a touching speech about the impact that Environmental Charter Schools had on her and her classmates. She said, “I will always keep a space in my heart open for this place,” and she thanked her teachers saying “they truly make a difference.” The students at ECMS-Gardena are successful in their own right but are grateful for the support they received from their dedicated teachers and families.


Their achievement is embodied in valedictorian Jennefer Vivar who struggled with her weight at the beginning of her middle school experience, but through the support of her teachers at ECMS-Gardena and her own resolve and hard work, she achieved a healthy weight and maintained good lifestyle habits. Now she will continue on to high school a healthy, confident young woman. Vivar, like the rest of her class, is empowered and she knows it as she declared, “I can achieve anything and I will.”


These students are considerate, compassionate and have an understanding outside of themselves. They feel grateful and share this gratitude with those who have supported them in achieving their goals so far. As inspirational speaker Angeline Granados reminded her fellow students, “You should never give up, because the reason why we’re celebrating today is that we did it.”

Congratulations to the ECMS-Gardena Class of 2017! Good luck to all of you in high school and beyond! We hope that you will continue to achieve and strive for excellence in all that you do.

More Photos on Facebook

Interdisciplinary Learning Comes to Life at ECMS


At Environmental Charter Middle Schools, the culminating integration of each quarters' learning is an interdisciplinary assessment called an “interdisciplinary benchmark.” This assessment challenges students to combine the material they have learned across subjects in a way that stretches their thinking and empowers their academic growth.

This year, interdisciplinary benchmarks at both ECMS-Inglewood and ECMS-Gardena were rigorous and exciting. Each grade level took on a different project. Students became historians, philosophers, mathematicians and artisans to complete their projects.

Seventh graders created a ‘perfect’ society - a utopia. They built societies with utopian political, social and cultural systems... and of course, in a utopia, communities are environmentally sustainable.

[PHOTO]: Seventh graders created utopias with ideal political, social and cultural systems… and of course, in a utopia, communities are environmentally sustainable.

To complete the seventh grade "utopia" project, students used their math skills to solve equations determining the amount of water and electricity needed for their sustainable energy systems. They also built 3D models of their communities and constructed websites to display their utopias in a museum exhibition. Lastly, they used their writing skills to share information with their community about their utopia.

This creatively designed, highly-integrated learning experience is just one example of our benchmarks, which are the result of the hard work and planning of all of our ECMS teachers. IBMs allow students to grow academically while also making connections between their subject matter and real-world issues.

With these types of learning experiences, an ECMS education prepares students for high school, college and career experiences that are as rich, sophisticated and varied as the IBM projects themselves

2015 In Review

Click each highlight to read more.

Our seniors had a 96% acceptance rate into college, including our Valedictorian, Vinh Tran, who headed to Harvard! Read the full story here.

Gardena becomes one of 193 middle schools across the state to be awarded State Superintendent of Education’s Gold Ribbon award for excellent academic programs. Read the full story here.

A big thanks to Lowe's and The Nature Conservancy who helped make this possible. Read the story here.

Four ECHS students traveled to Washington, D.C. for "Hike the Hill." Students gave presentations to legislators to advocate for environmental initiatvies within urban communities and to share their experiences on The Pacific Crest Trail. To read more, click here.

Green Ambassadors Interns took their community engagement efforts to the next level! Interns partnered with Energy Upgrade California to educate consumers, served as sustainability consultants to Dogeared Jewelry and worked with Otis College to promote waste reduction at ECS campuses. To read the full recap, click here.

The Green Ambassadors Institute (GAI) linked more than eighty educators and community leaders to learn and share best practices in environmental education. Read the recap here. Read about our other outstanding GAI event, A Watershed Moment, here.

Our student Crystal Sanchez won NFTE's 2015 National Youth Entreprenuership Challenge and a $25,000 prize for her Guardian Locket innovation, meant to help protect young woman against sexual assault. Read more here.

At Environmental Charter Schools, learning extends beyond the school hours through our dynamic after-school programming. This year, students at all of our school sites have had an even more robust selection of offerings to choose from after they finish their school day. Check out the after school highlights here.

ECS educators traveled to New Haven, CT to participate in a Teaching Our Cities Learning Exchange that allowed them to connect, share and exchange ideas about how urban environmental educators can embrace our cities as learning tools. Watch the video here.

ECS faculty and administrators created an innovative Teacher Development and Evaluation system to ensure the effective implementation of our Best Practices across all sites. Learn more here.

Our After School Programs grew significantly in 2015

[Photo]  Green Ambassadors teacher, Ms. Tashanda, at ECMS-Inglewood Winter Fest with students from the Green Ambassadors Cooking Club

This year at Environmental Charter Schools, after school programs have grown on all three of our campuses. Check out a few of the exciting after-school highlights!

Environmental Charter Middle School – Gardena

  • In the Spring, students collaborated within the areas of art, drama and dance to launch their production of West Side Story with a live band. This upcoming year, students plan to organize a production of The Lion King: A Musical.


[Photo] West Side Story Art Work

  • Students are getting healthy with a variety of after-school sports and activities! The ECMS-Gardena soccer team kicked off their season and is slated to challenge Watts, Peary, Inglewood and New Academy this upcoming year. Our 6th grade girls are “racking up” fitness points with our partners at the RAMP Tennis program at StubHub Center in Carson.










A photo posted by Enviro Charter Schools (@enviroschools) on










  • Our students relax their minds and stretch their muscles in Zumba, Yoga, swimming and Pilates thanks to our awesome partnership with the Gardena-Carson YMCA. Our students continue to bolster their academic skills through after school Math and Lit Lab classes that support students’ academic and intellectual growth.

[Photo] ECMS-Gardena students playing basketball at the Gardena-Carson YMCA

Environmental Charter Middle School – Inglewood

  • An exciting after-school partnership with Woodcraft Rangers began this year and has already delivered a groundbreaking 14% increase in attendance, which is a huge leap in engagement!
  • Several new and exciting sports opportunities are now being offered including soccer, basketball, and volleyball
  • The new Cooking Club has joined forces with the Green Ambassadors club to incorporate the delicious fruits and vegetables harvested from the gardens into their recipes! In the club, students focus on learning how to cook healthy foods.
  • Inglewood now offers free dinner for all students participating in the after-school program!












Our Harvest at ECMS-Inglewood. After a great season of planting in the fall, we begin to reap what we sowed. #greenthumb #growyourown #harvest #Autumn #greens #Inglewood #Hawthorne #SouthLA @ecsgreenambassadors

A photo posted by Enviro Charter Schools (@enviroschools) on











[Photo]  Picture of the Inglewood Winter Fest Cooking Club Display

"Our goal this year is to create a Youth Advisory Board that gives students a voice in after-school programming – the more ownership and investment the students have, the more their buy-in and participation increases.”

– Danielle Kelsick, ECMS-Inglewood Assistant Principal

Environmental Charter High School

  • The new Living Under 500 after-school club explores the burgeoning micro-living movement and designs their own imaginings of a ‘Tiny Home’.
  • Students are stoked about the new drumline and self-defense clubs, which extend their learning beyond the classroom and expand students’ opportunities to try new things.










School is back highlight #3: Drumline at ECHS is baaaack! #ECSbacktoschool

A photo posted by Enviro Charter Schools (@enviroschools) on




















Xavier and Sam rockin' out in our after school music program! #drums #music #rock #outdoorClassroom

A photo posted by Enviro Charter Schools (@enviroschools) on












To see more of the after-school experience at ECS, watch our video below:


After School – We Succeed from Environmental Charter Schools on Vimeo.


ECMS-Gardena Welcomes New Leadership

We are excited to announce our new leadership team at ECMS-Gardena. Mr. Robert Gloria stepped up as Principal after having served for several years as Assistant Principal at the school. Ms. Tasneem Muhammad joins ECMS-G as the new Assistant Principal. This dynamic duo brings years of experience and resources to our team. We are excited to watch the Gardena team grow under their leadership.

Robert is passionate about collaborative learning, experiential learning and authentic assessment. He is especially interested in social justice issues, and specialized in the field while he was pursuing his Master’s degree in Anthropology. Outside of work, Robert enjoys gardening, hiking, cycling and playing basketball.

Tasneem is passionate about educating urban youth. She enjoys making a difference in the lives of students who have similar backgrounds to her own. Tasneem is a product of a South Los Angeles upbringing and wants to help students in her community become productive citizens who make a difference in the world. Outside of work, she likes to go to the movies and spend time with her family.

For more information, read their full bios:

Robert’s Bio Tasneem’s Bio

Celebrating One World, Many Cultures at ECMS-Gardena

In the spirit of celebrating diversity, ECMS-Gardena welcomed more than 200 guests and community members to its 2nd Annual One World, Many Cultures Multicultural Day on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Students shared what they have learned about countries from all around the world through food, games, art and crafts. The fun-filled day included special performances of music by the ECMS-G student band along with singing, dance and spoken-word performances by ECS students.


“It was wonderful to bring together our students, families and the entire Gardena community. We look forward to this each year!”
– Ms. Lacey Harris, School Counselor

A special thanks to Stephen Leach and Nestlé USA, WendySue and Tobey’s, the ECMS-G Parent Council, parents, teachers and the After-School Programs staff for their generous support of the event.


In the spirit of celebrating community diversity, ECMS-G students shared what they have learned about countries from all…

Posted by Environmental Charter Schools on Monday, June 8, 2015