Students Championing Efforts to Make Their Communities More Sustainable 

Clean Energy Sources

As communities across Southern California work collaboratively to address the worsening impacts of climate change, the upcoming generation of green champions have already begun to lead impactful initiatives that are making a sizeable difference.  

Since 2006, Santa Monica High School’s environmental student club Team Marine has been working closely with city and community leaders to advance sustainability solutions that make their community green.  

So, in 2019 when the City of Santa Monica passed its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which aimed to reduce 80% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Team Marine went into action. The students began to focus on convincing local large power users to find ways to increase the amount of renewable energy they utilized each day, ultimately leading to a partnership with CPA’s Green Leader program, which is dedicated to promoting local customers on CPA’s 100% Green Power energy option. 

“Having worked with thousands of young people over decades as a teacher and environmental and peace activist, seeing how imaginative and poised they can be when solving problems, it’s invigorating to collaborate with exemplary young climate leaders who see how important and momentous Clean Power Alliance is as a climate solution,” said CPA Community Advisory Committee member Cris Gutierrez, who is a former co-chair and now a Climate Action Santa Monica advisor.  

One of Team Marine’s key successes was advocating to the Santa Monica—Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) to opt back to 100% Green Power, CPA’s 100% renewable energy option, in October 2023. This change took more than six months and required Team Marine to work closely with local leaders and the sustainability manager of SMMUSD. The success of this effort was celebrated earlier this month at a “Plugging In” event at the high school.  

“Knowing that my education is being powered by clean energy has taken a monumental weight off my shoulders,” said Maya Williams, a senior at Santa Monica High and co-chair of Team Marine. Williams presented the original petition to the SMMUSD Board of Education calling for the district to transition back to renewable sources.  

“I am very appreciative to the Board of Education for listening to the students, staff, and community members that so passionately advocated for this switch,” said Williams. “I know that this transition only marks the beginning of our school district’s bold climate action plan.” 

This move to renewable resources by SMMUSD will help the district improve energy costs savings and power management.  

The transition mirrors a similar effort by students at Culver City High School in 2022, who tirelessly worked with local leaders to increase the school district’s renewable energy use by returning to 100% Green Power from CPA.  

Like SMMUSD, Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) opted out of receiving 100% renewable energy in 2019, before students advocated for a Culver City Unified School District Green New Deal that focused on improving local sustainability. Students’ advocacy efforts included leading events, creating a proposal and giving speeches, and collaborating with the district superintendent, local environmental sustainability committee, principals, staff, teachers, parents and volunteers. 

Not only were the student’s energy efforts successful in returning the district to 100% Green Power, but they also took it one step further and worked with West L.A. College to create an environmental sciences program where students can earn college credit while still in high school.  

Santa Monica City Councilmember Gleam Davis, who also serves as a CPA board director, sees the value in such collaborations and applauded “the strong advocacy from the SMMUSD students who lobbied the school board to adopt 100% green energy across the district.” 

“I am grateful for the district’s commitment to addressing climate change,” said Davis. “I hope other school districts will follow their example.” 

To recognize SMMUSD for their environmental leadership, CPA announced the district as a Green Leader in April. CPA Green Leaders are businesses or public sector entities in industries spanning from agriculture, transportation, hospitality, food and beverage and more that are helping shape a green economy by choosing 100% renewable energy.  

To learn more about CPA’s Green Leader program, visit