Skip to Content

Jonathan Klein

Emerson Collective Fellowship

Helping America's public schools rise to the challenges of climate change.

Headshot of Jonathan Klein

Jonathan Klein started his career as a fifth-grade teacher in Compton, California. For two decades, he worked to close opportunity gaps for students in U.S. public schools, as a district leader, a nonprofit director, and a co-founder of social ventures like GO Public SchoolsRevolution Foods, and the Oakland Public Education Fund

Everything changed in 2019, when Klein’s daughter asked him to chaperone a youth climate strike in San Francisco. “I was radicalized that day,” he remembers, “walking among thousands of young people of all backgrounds—hearing their urgent, ambitious calls to action.” The experience inspired him to co-found UndauntedK12, a nonprofit that helps public schools—which emit 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year—lower their carbon emissions. UndauntedK12 shows leaders the impact and savings of greening new infrastructure and investing in updates like all-electric school buses, HVAC systems, on-site renewables, and energy storage. It tracks how a rapidly-changing climate undermines the health, safety, and learning of students—especially, the most vulnerable students.

As an Emerson Collective Fellow, Klein will expand UndauntedK12’s efforts to develop resources that support district leaders, policymakers, and advocates in creating healthy, sustainable, climate-resilient schools. Building on its experiences in three states so far, UndauntedK12 plans to launch a campaign to build awareness and drive action about opportunities for America’s public schools to equitably decarbonize and build resilient school environments. Working across geographies—especially with states and districts in places most vulnerable to climate disruption—UndauntedK12 will offer digital resources, webinars, technical support, and convenings. In particular, it will help schools access federal funds made available by the Inflation Reduction Act.