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Articles by Anya Kamenetz

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Jesika Gonzalez will tell you that she wasn’t the biggest fan of Porterville, California, while she was growing up. 

“When I was younger, I was very, like, angsty,” the 18-year-old said as she flicked her purple hair over her shoulder. “Whatever, this town’s small, nothing to do.”

Porterville is a predominantly Hispanic working-class town in the Central Valley of California, where environmental hazards include some of the worst air quality in the state; the past year’s torrential rains that inundated hundreds of acres of farmland; and a heat wave that pushed temperatures past 110 degrees Fahrenheit this July. 

But Porterville has this going for it: Its school district pioneered a partnership with Climate Action Pathways for Schools, or CAPS, a nonprofit that aims to help high school students become more environmentally aware while simultaneously lowering their school’s carbon footprint and earning wages.

CAPS is part of a growing trend. Like similar programs in Missouri, ... Read more

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