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About Us

Forest Lake

Our Story

Teaching Environmental Stewardship

Power2Sustain is a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to teach K-12th grade students concepts about environmental stewardship and sustainability and empower them to take action to preserve and sustain their natural world.

The project began in New York City in 2008 after a small group of public school teachers and administrators began experiencing an alarming reduction in science instruction. Both teaching time and funding for science were being heavily reduced (and in some instances eliminated entirely) and specific concepts in areas of environmental literacy were sometimes lacking completely.

Working together,  the group of teachers and school principals distilled key concepts in K-12th grade science education using content standards from several states. The group then framed these concepts through environmental literacy lessons and activities that integrate into Science, Math and English Language Arts instruction and created a  curriculum.

The result was a unique and comprehensive curriculum that is  Common Core standards-based integrated with other subjects, hands-on and empowering to students and their families. The project involves a unit of study and multiple learning experiences,  rather than a single activity, allowing for more complete internalization of the concepts and for deeper critical thinking and problem-solving experiences.

Available to All Schools

In the US and Abroad

The project has since expanded to California and reached approximately 4500 students in over 41 schools.

The Power2Sustain Project is available free-of-charge to all public, charter and independent schools in the US and abroad. For more information and to sign-up, please visit The Project page.


Bagito reusable shopping bags were created by Power2Sustain to help provide funding for its programs. Bagitos are full-sized, micro-stuffable shopping bags designed to hang on a key ring. A meaningful percentage of the proceeds from the sales of Bagitos go to the Power2Sustain project.


Bagito is a socially conscious business, that has made the decision to donate not 1% but 100% of profits to helping students learn about the natural world and ways that they can sustain it. Bagito believes that after covering costs and expenses, paying employees decent wages and benefits and supporting our local community, the bottom line must be giving back to the world at large.


Mitch Barlas

Mitch is a former bilingual elementary school teacher, school principal and district administrator.  He taught in California and led schools in New York City and in Northern California. Mitch describes himself as a life-long "low-key" fan of preserving our environment, who recently has become passionate about the subject. Knowing the power of education to build knowledge, skills and critical thinking, as well as to foster creativity and passion, Mitch began Power2Sustain as a way to provide environmental learning to K-12th grade students and teachers in the most efficient and successful ways possible. Mitch also has a passion for instructional technology. He believes in fusing the old (real books, hands-on math problems) with the new (tablet-based collaborative learning, online interactive problem-solving...) and is always looking for ways to incorporate technology into environmental literacy. Mitch is an avid fan of the great outdoors and considers himself blessed to currently live in the close-to-paradise town of Santa Cruz, CA.

The Team

Special thanks to:

Daniel Steinberg, Lead Organizer

Cindy Ho

Chris Miles

Angela Phan

Taylor McLoughlin

UCSC Student Consulting Group, 2012-13

Kristen Park

Max Massengill

Andrew Carlson

Cameron Hamilton 

Science Advisory Team

​Jennifer Saltzman, Ph.D. Director of Outreach Education, Stanford University - Earth Sciences

Kimberly Brewitt Ph.D. student, UCSC​

Peter Brewitt Ph.D. student, UCSC

Lacey Raak, Environmental Studies Coordinator UCSC,

Kristin Sullivan, Professor of Environmental Studies, DeAnza College

Daniel Steinberg, Consultant

Suzzane Hebert, Youth Programs Manager, Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Chelsea Prindle, Educator Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary Discovery Center

To learn about our board of directors, please click  HERE .

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