A year-long program for youth, adults, and schools

Offered in partnership with UP for Learning

Empower youth to make real change in their schools and communities with Cultivating Pathways to Sustainability.

Over the course of a year, youth-adult teams develop and implement community action projects to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which focus on pathways to building a socially, economically, and ecologically just society.


What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals offer a blueprint for building a socially, economically, and ecologically just society, adopted by the UN in 2015. The goals address global challenges including poverty, inequality, climate change, and peace and justice.

Cultivating Pathways pairs the goals of Vermont’s personalized learning initiative, Act 77, with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Georgia, Vermont Middle School's Cultivating Pathways Project: A Day of Service

Recognized by United Nations University as an Innovative Project in Education for Sustainable Development
Kopila Valley School campus seen from a second story view. The campus is sprawling and set amongst rolling green hills.
Kopila Valley School

School Transformation Story

At the Kopila Valley School in Surkhet, Nepal, middle schoolers focused on the Sustainable Development Goals of advancing climate action and life on land. They developed a campaign to educate the community about the harmful impacts of burning plastic and created cloth bag alternatives to distribute locally.

What to Expect

Form a team of students and educators and join in Youth Participatory Action Research, with resources and support from UP for Learning and Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools. You’ll explore the Sustainable Development Goals; connect with and assess your place; and plan and implement a project to advance the global goals.


  • Kick-off retreat: October 4, 2023
  • Youth-led gatherings (Virtual): November 1, 2023; January 3, 2024; March 6, 2024; and May 1, 2024
  • Closing retreat: May 1, 2024
  • Coaching meetings: To be determined by teams and coaches

Choose your support level. Click on the support level to expand details and pricing.


Level 1: Attend two learning retreats, virtual or regional
  • Foundations of youth-adult partnership
  • Rooting in the SDGs
  • Youth Participatory Action Research project
  • Sustainability
  • Sharing across groups and celebration

Price: $100/team

Level 2: Level 1, plus four youth-led virtual support sessions during school year
  • Connect with other CPS groups
  • Talk with youth facilitators who have done CPS in the past
  • YPAR project support
  • Shared resources and strategies

Price: $2,500/team

Level 3: Levels 1 & 2, plus personalized team coaching for 1 hr./month
  • Virtual or in-person coaching with your team
  • Build shared leadership, power, and responsibility
  • Support for agenda setting, vision, and project management
  • Support with grants
  • School transformation

Price: $7,500

Add adult professional learning

Add professional learning with Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools for $500 per educator.

Cultivating Pathways to Sustainability started as a collaboration among Shelburne Farms, Vermont educators Kate Toland and Lindsey Halman, the Rubenstein School of the University of Vermont, the Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network, and Vermont Learning for the Future. Now, Cultivating Pathways has grown to include other community partners, hundreds of youth, and their teachers.

CPS was recognized by United Nations University as an exemplary project in education for sustainable development (2018). Read about this and other projects in, RCE Contributions to a More Sustainable World: Celebrating Five Years of Innovative Projects on Education for Sustainable Development (2015–2019). (Cultivating Pathways starts on p. 12.)