Founded in 2010, The CLEO Institute is the only nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Florida exclusively dedicated to climate education and advocacy. The devastating hurricanes, increased flooding, and rising temperatures regularly witnessed in Florida underscore the importance of CLEO’s work. Building community resilience and adaptive capacity require an informed, engaged, & prepared public.
CLEO works with governmental, business, academic, and community leaders to advocate for long-term, inclusive solutions. From their CLEO Speakers Network that trains people to become climate speakers in their community to their Empowering Resilient Women program that connects the dots for women in underserved communities how to be better prepared for extreme weather events, to working with high schools to bring climate, justice and civic engagement into the curriculum, CLEO’s top-down, bottom-up approach is helping Florida, the most vulnerable state to climate impacts, become more resilient.
CLEO’s mission is to educate and empower communities to demand climate action, ensuring a safe, just, and healthy environment for all. As of 2021, they have reached over 3 million people and have hosted and participated in more than 1400 trainings.
CLEO’s most vulnerable, yet powerful, audience is the K-12 student population. Because Florida is so heavily impacted by the climate crisis, educating students early on is integral to long-term resilience. With a better understanding, students can advocate for mitigation and adaptation at local, state, and federal levels.
Partnering with Miami-Dade Public School System’s STEAM Program, CLEO launched its CLEO Climate Resilient Schools program in 2018. They are now rolling out the program across several cities in Florida, and their teacher workshop is open internationally to all educators. This 4-pronged program is designed to make climate-ready the next generation of leaders. The 4 prongs include:
- Helping teachers teach climate across the curriculum through CLEO Teachers Workshops, aided by more robust lesson plans. In addition, they publish a quarterly newsletter that offers teachers additional resources, materials, and ideas to use in their classrooms.
- Provide climate presentations to schools.
- Certify students to do peer-to-peer climate lectures through CLEO’s Climate Leadership Information Program (CLIP).
- Expose students to industry experts through CLEO’s Climate Action Lab Summer Camp.
Another great way they are engaging with youth is through their GenCLEO network, a state-wide program that offers high school and university students monthly opportunities for leadership and growth inside the climate movement. From media and communication trainings to civic leadership and activism, every student has a unique history and contributes special skills and talents to the group.
GenCLEO has been successful in getting local municipalities across Florida to declare a climate emergency.
Coined after youth climate activist Greta Thunberg´s famous speech, “House on Fire” is a youth-led podcast about the climate crisis based in Florida, powered by CLEO. With 11 episodes already produced, the podcast tackles topics like Climate Disinformation with Nobel-prize winning climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann, and the role of youth activism with Sunrise Movement ED Varshini Prakash. In each episode, CLEO hosts team up with guests, including experts in the field of science, advocacy, and journalism to educate their listeners and empower them to become activated in the climate crisis movement.
The “Melting Florida Campaign” is another exciting project the CLEO Institute employed in 2020 to illustrate climate change, specifically global warming. CLEO partnered with the VoLo Foundation to enhance people’s understanding of heat’s effects. Working with Zubi Advertising and artist Bob Partington they created the Florida Climate Crisis campaign, which featured three melting sculpture exhibits in Miami, Tampa, and Orlando to highlight the need for bold climate action. The works of art were created to melt in the heat to reveal the toll human-caused climate change is taking on Florida’s people and wildlife. The goal of this “artivism” campaign was to educate people about rising temperatures and the impacts Florida faces if action is not taken to protect the environment.
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Written by Kerri McLean
Senior Director of Programs
Air Pollution, Flooding, Heat, Hurricanes/Tropical Storms, Water Contamination
Community Farm/Gardens, Nature-Based Solutions, Renewable Energy
501c3 Tax Deductible